U.S. Senior Open

Bernhard Langer didn't like his chances in U.S. Senior Open, and now he's contending for record-setting victory


Bernhard Langer hits a shot during the second round of the U.S. Senior Open.

Patrick McDermott

In the runup to the U.S. Senior Open at Sentry World in Wisconsin, 65-year-old Bernhard Langer didn’t particularly fancy his chances, noting the distance he gives up to younger players on a layout that he said favors the bombers.

“They're going to hit driver, 9-iron [into the greens]. I'm hitting driver, 3-iron, which makes it hard to compete when you do that 72 times,” he said of a layout that can be maxed out to 7,200 yards. “I know I have to play at my highest level to have any hope to win, but I know I'm capable of doing that.”

Through 36 holes, Langer is playing at a high level. Just like he is capable of doing. Just like he has been doing for 17 seasons in golf’s senior division.

With a three-under-par 68 Friday—the best score of the early wave by two strokes and one of only five sub-par rounds among early starters—the German wonder moved to the top of the leaderboard at the 43rd U.S. Senior Open in Stevens Point, Wis. His three-under 139 total was good for the clubhouse lead as he seeks to surpass Hale Irwin for the most wins in PGA Tour Champions history. They share the top spot with 45 victories.

Langer, who won the 2010 U.S. Senior Open for one of his 11 senior majors, hit 12 fairways and 13 greens in regulation during a round that featured six birdies against three bogeys on the 7,177-yard course framed by penal rough.

Through two rounds Langer ranks 127th in driving distance. But he is first in fairways hit, missing only three of 28 through 36 holes. He has added 25 greens in regulation, ranked among the top five.

“It was a beautiful day to play golf,” said Langer, who lamented that his round could have been even lower. “Believe it or not, I had two three-putts, and I hit a sand wedge from the fairway into the hazard, so it could have been quite a bit better. But I’m not complaining. It’s fun to be playing well and being near the lead.”

Langer, who turns 66 in August, secured his 45th senior victory in February at the Chubb Classic. He fields questions continually about setting the record, but he leaves it to others to think about it.

“I feel very honored and blessed to have tied Hale Irwin. Obviously one of my goals is to go beyond that number,” he said. “But I don’t think about it on a daily basis. I’ve been incredibly blessed and successful the last 15 years, and, hopefully, it will last a few more years.”

Or at least two more rounds.