Ernie Els wins, Bernhard Langer ties for third at 2024 Principal Charity Classic on PGA Tour Champions

DES MOINES, Iowa — The fourth time is the charm.

It took four appearances at the Principal Charity Classic for Ernie Els to get his first win there, with the South Africa native simultaneously earning his first PGA Tour Champions win this season.

“It’s very special,” Els said. “I haven’t won for a while, and I’ve had quite a few chances. But it gets tougher when you don’t get it over the line.”

Els finished at 21-under 195, winning by two strokes.

The 54-year-old had two birdies on the front nine Sunday and three more on the back. He picked up an eagle on lucky number 13, which gave Els the padding needed for the win, even with making par on the final three holes.

“I was lucky enough to make birdie on 11,” Els said. “I didn’t need a very good approach, made a good putt. And then 12, but 13 was big to make eagle late on the back nine, that was key. Got me into a three-shot lead, and (I) kept with it.”

The win at the Wakonda Club marked the first PGA Tour Champions win of the season for Els, who entered the Principal Charity Classic ranked 16th in the Schwab Cup Standings through eight events.

He claimed the winner’s purse of $300,000, which brings his total winnings the $785,017 this season. Els has now finished in the top 10 three times this season, including third-place ties in the Regions Tradition and Chubb Classic and a tie for sixth at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

Els finished two shots ahead of Stephen Ames, the tournament’s defending champion, but it was a close race throughout. Four players were tied for first after finishing the front nine: Ames, Rod Pampling, Ernie Els and Bernhard Langer.

Then, the front group started to split apart.

Ames picked up two birdies to start the back nine, then made par on 12 and 13, and saved par on 14. Els made par on 10, then picked up back-to-back birdies and an eagle on the next three holes to take a two-shot lead. Langer also hit par to start the back nine, then made three birdies in a row before a bogey on 14.

Els’ eagle on lucky number 13 that proved to be the winning shot in Sunday’s competition.

But holistically, he played his best tournament of the year, leading after the first two rounds and hanging on through the final day in Des Moines.

“I had a good game plan,” Els responded when asked about his three-day lead. “I stuck with it all three days. I’ve put the work in and you feel a bit more confident that every aspect of the game is there.

“Then you can just go out there and compete. It was a hell of a week. Everybody played well and just that one hole maybe got it for me. Number 13.”

Els – who thanked the greens staff for the “true championship course” and the weather for cooperating – plans to return to Des Moines.

“We as players love playing here. As long as I can, I’ll come back, especially if I keep winning.”

Ageless wonder Langer, who tore his Achilles tendon while playing pickleball on just four months ago, shot a 63 on Saturday, the 15th time the 66-year-old has shot his age or better on PGA Tour Champions. On Sunday, he shot 68 and tied for third alongside Duval and Pampling.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek