Bernhard Langer beats his age yet again, takes lead at TimberTech Championship

BOCA RATON, Fla. — After posting a 2-under-par 70 in Friday’s opening round, Bernhard Langer said it would take “two very good rounds” Saturday and Sunday for him to have a shot at winning the TimberTech Championship.

He exceeded his expectations Saturday, firing a 9-under 63 at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club to take a one-shot lead over Paul Goydos heading into Sunday’s finale.

“I knew it would take a very good round, but this was a special round,” said Langer, 65, who began the day with three consecutive birdies and added two more birdies and a bogey to go out in 4-under 32 to beat his age by two shots. He also had five birdies on the back nine to come home in 31 for a two-round total of 11-under 133. “Nine under in windy conditions on this course is not easy.”

Langer is the only two-time winner of the tournament, with victories in 2010 and 2019, and he’s also had three seconds and two thirds. Saturday’s 63 was his lowest round in the tournament, which had previously been played at the Old Course at Broken Sound.

“Today actually wasn’t necessarily my best ball-striking day,” Langer said, “but I made a bunch of putts and shot 9 under, two better than my age, so that’s pretty exciting.”

Goydos shot a 66 with five birdies, a bogey and an eagle-2 on the short par-4 16th when he pitched in from just off the green. The Californian, 58, who won this event in 2015, opened with a 68 and played in the final group Saturday with Rod Pampling and first-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Pampling, of Australia, shot a 69 with three birdies and no bogeys and was alone in third at 7-under 137. Jimenez shot 72 after his opening 67 to fall into a tie for ninth at 5 under. The Spaniard birdied his first two holes Saturday and got to 8 under through nine holes to lead the tournament, but two bogeys and a double bogey dropped him to 4-under before he birdied the 17th hole.

Irishman Darren Clarke, who won the 2020 TimberTech title and the Senior Open Championship this summer, started off as hot as Langer on Saturday after opening with a 72. Clarke had five birdies on the front nine and was seven under through his first 12 holes, which at the time gave him the lead over Langer, who was playing four groups behind Clarke.

Clarke bogeyed the par-4 14th when he failed to get up and down after his lob wedge approach plugged in a greenside bunker. He came right back with a birdie at the par-3 15th to return to 7 under.

At the par-5 18th, which was tied with the par-5 13th as the easiest hole with a scoring average of 4.673, Clarke hit his second shot into the water. After a drop, he hit his fourth shot onto the green and missed his par putt to finish with a bogey and a 6-under 66 to move from a tie for 23rd place into a tie for fourth with four others.

“Making six on the last is inexcusable,” said Clarke, who downplayed his eight birdies and solid putting. “I just rolled it nicely and a few went in. I got lucky today, my speed was good for the most part, that’s why a few went in.”

Langer switched putters Saturday and had only 21 putts, which was helped when he holed a bunker shot for a birdie on the par-4 third hole.

“Same model, same everything, but a little different blade, a little different look to it,” he said of a putter that he has used before for many years. He said he also read the greens better Saturday than he did during the pro-ams Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday.

“I don’t know what I did different, I just read them correctly.”

Langer tees off in the final threesome Sunday with Pampling and Goydos, who admitted that Langer has the advantage.

“This is a course where you just need to plod along. You’ll make birdies and also bogeys and double bogeys out here,” Goydos said. “(Langer) is a plodder, he doesn’t make mistakes. He very rarely beats himself, so it’s no big surprise that he’s playing well on this particular golf course.”

So it probably wouldn’t surprise Goydos if Langer has one more very good round.

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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek