PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Bernhard Langer pulled away with three straight birdies on the back nine at Pebble Beach and cruised to a three-shot victory at the Pure Insurance Championship, his fifth victory of the year and the 34th of his PGA Tour Champions career.
The German star had never won at the iconic seaside venue on the Monterey Peninsula. It was also his first win since turning 60 last month. He earned $300,000 to push his season earnings to near $3 million and extend his lead over Scott McCarron on the Charles Schwab Cup money list as he seeks his ninth money title in 10 seasons.
“It was a magical week in terms of golf, as nice as this place is and the weather was and the people I played with, and my game was really good,” Langer said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Langer closed with a 67 for a three-day total of 198 at the pro-am event, which pairs professionals with junior golfers from the First Tee program and is contested at Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills. He and his partner also won the pro-am competition.
Jerry Kelly pulled even with Langer by making eagle on the par-5 sixth hole and again with a birdie at the par-3 12th. Langer then took command, hitting an 8-iron to 12 feet for birdie on the 13th hole, a lob wedge to 7 feet on the tricky par-5 14th and a pitching wedge to tap-in range on 15.
Langer felt Kelly putting pressure on him from the group ahead.
“It made me keep the pedal down and keep trying to make birdies and not just protect par because that might not have been good enough,” Langer said. “So it forced me to make more birdies, and I was fortunate enough to pull it off.”
Kelly closed with six straight pars for a 67 to finish alone in second, breaking Hale Irwin’s record from 1999 with his 14th consecutive round in the 60s.
He knew he needed to get deeper under par to catch Langer.
“I was happy with the way I played. I thought eight (under) and that’s exactly what I needed was eight,” Kelly said. “I was hoping that wasn’t the case, but when you’ve got Iron Man out there doing that stuff, you know.”
McCarron shot 68 to finish third. Kenny Perry, who began the day one shot behind Langer, bogeyed three of his first five holes and shot 74.
Langer’s victories this year include three of the five senior majors. His win total trails only Irwin’s 45.
“That man is truly inspiring,” Kelly said. “I mean, I told him the other day I’ve got so much respect for what he’s doing. Forget what he’s done, he’s doing it.”