- Associated Press - Thursday, May 2, 2013

THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS (AP) - Bernhard Langer has assured Hale Irwin that his Champions Tour record of 45 victories is safe.

Langer has won twice this season and he’s the tour points leader going into the first round of the Insperity Championship at The Woodlands Country Club’s TPC course Friday.

“I told him (Irwin) yesterday, we chatted a little bit,” Langer said. “He said `well done and take it easy now.’ I told him `your record will never be broken.’”

The way Langer has played might give Irwin cause for concern. Langer has 18 victories on the Champions Tour and has called the current season among his best starts.

Langer won the ACE Group Classic and the Greater Gwinnett Championship. He has top three finishes in five of his six individual starts. He was second in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and tied for second in the Allianz Championship.

“I don’t have the strength and flexibility that I did 20 years ago, but I can make up for that in other areas where I’m mentally better, where I am technically better,” Langer said. “I know myself better and how to play and attack certain golf shots.”

The competitive fires have much to do with Langer’s prominence on the senior circuit.

“I think it’s just trying to get better,” Langer said. “I believe I can get better. I believe my swing can improve, my short game can improve and if I can just do that by two or three or five percent, I can shave off a half-stroke or a stroke a day that would be phenomenal.”

David Frost also brings a hot streak into the tournament. He won the Toshiba Classic in March and has top 10 finishes in eight of his last nine stroke-play events. Twenty-six of the top 30 money winners on last year’s Champions Tour are in the field.

Tom Pernice Jr. has finished in the top three in four of his five starts and defending champion Fred Funk is back to play on one of his favorite courses.

“I’ve always loved this place,” Funk said. “I got my first win in ‘92 here. I met my wife here. I have the course record here the year I won and 20 years later I win again here last year. It was a magical week last year and a magical finish.

“When they announced coming back to this golf course I thought that was such a great move for me personally because I have such a love affair with TPC course.”

The tournament is being played on new greens for the first time. Course director of golf Jim Dickson said the MiniVerde greens would be more drought resistant and recover quicker than the old Champions Bermuda.

Funk expects scores to be higher because of the new greens.

“It’s going to be very difficult on some of these greens,” Funk said. “The way they are designed, which is what I love about this golf course, you can tuck the pins in all these little areas of the green that they have on all the holes. But now some of them are going to be impossible to get to, especially with the wind forecast that they have.”

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