STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Bernhard Langer has been able to avoid most of the trouble at SentryWorld in the U.S. Senior Open. He still was far from unscathed Friday in a 3-under 68 that gave him the second-round lead.
“Believe it or not, I had two three-putts and a hit a sand wedge from the middle of the fairway into the water hazard, which is painful when you think about that from 100 yards,” the 65-year-old German star said after his morning round.
Langer had six birdies and three bogeys a day after having a birdie and a bogey in an opening 71. On Friday, he hit 12 of 14 fairways on the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course with thick rough and tricky, inconsistent greens.
At 3-under 139, Langer was one of only five players under par. The scoring average Friday was 76.54, down from 77.34 on Thursday.
“The course is tough, but it’s fair, and it’s a great setup,” Langer said. “I’m fortunate to be playing well and look forward to the weekend.”
The 2010 U.S. Senior Open winner at Sahalee in Washington, Langer won the Chubb Classic in Florida in February to tie Hale Irwin for the PGA Champions Tour’s career victory record of 45.
First-round leader Rod Pampling was a stroke back, following an opening 68 with a 72. The 53-year-old Australian had a birdie and two bogeys in the afternoon session.
“The putter didn’t cooperate as well as it did yesterday,” Pampling said. “Nothing to stress about.”
“Greens were — I couldn’t really tell,” Kelly said. “Some fast putts weren’t fast. Some slow putts were fast.”
Goosen played alongside Langer.
“It played just the same as yesterday,” Goosen said. “Very tricky, tough. Miss the fairway, you pray for a half-decent lie.”
Kelly and 2019 champion Steve Stricker — both from Madison, about 100 miles to the south — will play together Saturday. Stricker shot a 70 to join two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els (71) at even par.
Sticker won the first two senior majors of the year and took the Madison event three weeks ago for his fourth victory of the season.
“I’m right in there,” Stricker said. “The scores aren’t going anywhere. It’s very challenging. It’s very tough. If you don’t hit the fairway, you’re scrambling.”
Sacrificing distance for accuracy, Langer frequently hit 3-wood instead of driver.
“I’m not the longest guy out here, but I still feel many times the 3-wood is a better club for me off the tee,” Langer said.
“Obviously, there’s the rough, but there’s a lot of water in play. Then you have the greens that are quite severe at times, too. Four or five of them are really firm.”
Allen Doyle is the oldest winner in event history, taking the 2006 title at SentryWorld at 57 years, 11 months, 14 days.
“I’ll take two more 68s and let the rest of the field have a shot at it,” Langer said.