Ernie Els fends off Bernhard Langer, wins 4th career PGA Tour Champions event

The ‘Big Easy’ made things look easy in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday.

Ernie Els, known for his sweet and simple swing, won the Principal Charity Classic on the PGA Tour Champions, his fourth career victory on the senior circuit.

When Els made the turn, he sat at 16-under, in a tie with Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh. But the four-time major champion decimated the back-nine, making two birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, followed by an eagle at the par-5 13th, which separated himself from the pack.

“To make eagle late on the back nine, that was key,” Els said.

“It gave me a two-shot lead.”

Els then added one more birdie at the 15th to give himself an extra cushion going into the final stretch. He ultimately carded a 7-under 65 to finish at 21-under for the championship.

“Today was very, very competitive,” Els added.

“A lot of players, a lot of great players. I just took my chance when it came. I made a nice little run on the back nine on 11, 12 and 13. You know, got to the lead and birdied 15 and then just kind of hung in there to the end. Very competitive.”

Ernie Els, PGA Tour Champions, Principal Charity Classic

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Langer, meanwhile, vaulted himself into contention with an improbable 9-under 63 on Saturday. He recently returned to the PGA Tour Champions after suffering an Achilles injury, making his play that much more impressive. He continued his hot stretch into Sunday, making an eagle at the par-5 5th. Langer added birdies at the 8th, 11th, 12th, and 13th holes to climb the leaderboard further.

But he quickly cooled off at the 14th and 15th holes. He made a pair of bogeys there, all but ending his chances for what would have been a jaw-dropping victory considering the injury he suffered in early February.

Nevertheless, Els’ victory marks his first win since March 2023, when he won the Hoag Classic a second time.

“It’s very special. You know, I haven’t won for a while,” Els said.

“I’ve had quite a few chances, but it gets tougher when you don’t get it over the line.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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