Incredibly, Bernhard Langer is one back in pursuit of 47th PGA Tour Champions title at 2024 Principal Charity Classic

So much for Bernhard Langer easing back into PGA Tour Champions life.

After tearing his left Achilles tendon while playing pickleball on Feb. 1, Langer returned to action just three months later at the Insperity Invitational in Houston in early May.

Now, less than a month from beating those odds, the 66-year-old is at it again, this time challenging for a title at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.

In just his fourth start since his return, Langer used a smart finish on the renovated Wakonda Golf Club to finish the day with a 63 and sits at 13 under after the first two rounds of the event. It’s the 15th time he has shot his age or better on the Champions Tour. He’s one stroke back of Ernie Els and Rod Pampling and tied with Stephen Ames for third. David Duval, Vijay Singh and Kevin Sutherland are two off the pace and in the hunt.

Wakonda recently underwent a restoration at the hands of golf architect Tyler Rae and his associate, Jim Ryan Jr. The course opened in 1922 with a design by William Langford, who started laying out courses during the golden era of golf design. Langford typically worked with partner Theodore J. Moreau through the early 1940s before continuing on his own later.

And while the changes have modernized the course, it’s also made it more difficult for players like Langer.

“The way they renovated it, it’s even more of a bomber’s paradise. Or it wasn’t before,” Langer said. “Before it was the type of course where a Jerry Kelly or somebody that drove it really straight, Joe Durant, those type of players. Balls coming out of the rough is not easy here, but now they’ve — like I’m looking here at No. 10 and No. 8, the biggest fairway in the world, and 18, the long guys can drive the green. Someone like me, I drove it as good as I could just to get it over the bunker, things like that. They can reach all the par 5s, I struggle to reach some of them.

“So length is always important, but yeah, this used to be about precision and it’s a little bit less about it but still important.”

Either way, Langer is right in the thick of things heading into the final round, and a victory would give him 47 on the PGA Tour Champions. Due to injuries and other reasons, Langer hasn’t won since the 2023 U.S. Senior Open, when he edged Steve Stricker by two strokes at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

“I still hit some poor shots, especially when I’m in awkward stances,” he said. “The feet are high or low or sidehill, downhill, my balance isn’t there because the foot that was operated on just doesn’t have the support or the flexibility to stabilize my swing and my weight during the swing. Therefore, I hit it thin, I hit it fat, whatever. Anything can happen now.

“I tried a driver yesterday off an uphill lie and I just about topped it almost. I’m not there, but I’m grateful I can use a cart to get me around.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek