DES MOINES, Iowa — Bernhard Langer is once again tearing up the PGA Tour Champions circuit, ranking second on the money list through 11 events.
If Langer can finally break through at one of the rare courses that has repeatedly vexed him, he might leave Iowa in first place.
Langer enters this weekend's Principal Charity Classic at Wakonda Club in Des Moines with 37 career victories in the senior series. But the German has notched just two top-10s in five tries in Iowa, including a frustrating fourth-place finish in 2017.
Langer should be considered among the favorites though, despite his mixed history in Des Moines.
In his last four starts this season, Langer has a win and two second-place finishes. He should be well rested after taking two weeks off to celebrate his son's high school graduation back in Germany.
The three-round senior golf tournament tees off Friday.
"I was a little frustrated playing here the first couple times. It was my worst finish of the year I think once or twice, so I tried to figure out why would that be," Langer said. "I try to pay even more attention than I usually do on what I need to do around here to be more successful. Last year was encouraging, I was in contention. Sometimes it just depends whether you make a putt or two or whether you get a break or not."
Langer will be joined by seven golfers who've won this tournament, including defending champion Brandt Jobe.
Jobe snapped a winless streak stretching nearly 20 years by shooting a final-round 69 last year at Wakonda, holding off Kevin Sutherland and his former UCLA roommate Scott McCarron.
Jobe went on a strong run after winning in Iowa, but had a sluggish start in 2018. Jobe has since bounced back, finishing in the top 10 in two of his last three events.
"I think really what last year did was it gave me confidence that I'm doing good things," said Jobe about his win in Iowa, which remains his only title on the senior circuit.
Based on his performance at Wakonda the past two years, perhaps no one is better positioned for a strong weekend than McCarron.
McCarron won the event in 2016 before falling one stroke short last year. McCarron is eighth on the money list despite not winning a tournament yet this season, though he tied for third at the Senior PGA Championship in late May.
"It's been a little bit of a mixed bag," McCarron said. "It's coming along. I just haven't putted as well as I did last year."
As for the course, it's hilly with narrow fairways that ranked 10th-toughest among 27 events a year ago. Weather could be a factor as well, with the possibility of thunderstorms in the forecast for Friday and Saturday.
"The golf course is challenging. You've got to drive the ball very straight. A lot of undulation, a lot of slopes, very seldom do you have a flat lie. Every shot is either uphill, downhill, sidehill, something is going on, and smallish greens with a lot of slope on them," Langer said. "You've got to try and keep the ball below the hole to have an uphill putt, which is often not possible."