STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) — Bernhard Langer won the U.S. Senior Open on Sunday at SentryWorld to break the PGA Tour Champions’ career victory record.
Pushing his record as the oldest winner on the 50-and-over tour to 65 years, 10 months, 5 days, the German star broke a tie with Hale Irwin for the victory mark with No. 46.
“I have my mother that’s going to be 100 on August 4th, so I think I have good genes,” Langer said. “Hopefully, I’ll be around a few more years.”
Seven strokes ahead on the back nine, Langer bogeyed the final three holes for 1-under 70 and a two-stroke victory over home-state favorite Steve Stricker on the tree-lined course with thick rough.
“Never thought it would happen at a U.S. Senior Open, but I’m very thrilled that the record of 46 wins happened this week,” Langer said. “It’s certainly one of the greatest tournaments we ever compete in, and to beat this field, where everybody was here, especially Stricker and (Jerry) Kelly on their home grounds, is a very special feeling.”
Langer finished at 7-under 277, with only eight players breaking par for the week. He shattered the tournament age record set by Allen Doyle in 2006 at Prairie Dunes at 57 years, 11 months, 14 days.
“There are a lot more aches and pains than 10 years ago,” Langer said. “I still enjoy the game. If I play like I did this week, I’m going to keep playing. There have been the odd week when I thought, `What were you doing out here? Go home and play with the grandkids.’”
The two-time Masters champion has a record 13 victories since turning 60 and holds the top five spots on the oldest- winners list. He has multiple victories in 11 straight seasons and 14 overall.
Also the 2010 U.S. Senior Open winner at Sahalee outside Seattle, Langer extended his record for senior major victories to 12. He won the Chubb Classic in Florida in February to tie Irwin.
Stricker — from Madison, 100 miles to the south — birdied three of the last five holes for a 69.
“It gives all of us hope, I guess, that are out here still playing that we can continue to play as good as he’s played for such a long time,” Stricker said about Langer. “It’s really impressive. I knew he wasn’t going to back off today.”
Stricker won the first two senior majors of the year and took his hometown Madison event three weeks ago for his fourth Champions victory of the season.
“It seemed like I had a poor nine holes in there every day, and that just ended up costing me the tournament,” Stricker said.
Kelly, also from Madison, was third at 4 under after a 71.
“I was way too amped up,” Kelly said. "I was trying to be settled and calm, but I was talking more than I have all week. I was moving a little bit faster than I have all week."
Two shots ahead of Kelly entering the round, Langer birdied the first two holes for the second straight day.
Langer added a birdie on No. 5, then rounded from a bogey on No. 6 with birdie on No. 7. He opened the back nine with a birdie on the 10th, parred the next five and closed with the three straight bogeys.
“It was not easy,” said Langer, who earned a spot next year in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. “My age probably showed up toward the end.”
Brett Quigley (66) and Rob Labritz (69) tied for fourth at 2 under. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (71), Steven Alker (65) and Dicky Pride (69) were 1 under.
“The rough was difficult and, as many fairways as I missed, I think I did OK,” Goosen said. “I was like a cow out there just eating cabbage the whole time.”
Langer, paired with Goosen the first two rounds, sacrificed distance for accuracy to stay out of the rough.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I did so well. I didn’t hit it in the rough very often,” Langer said. “Took many 3-woods off the tees at times, but then I had to hit 3-wood into the green or a very long club. But I’d rather do that than hit driver and wedge it out from the rough.”