A bet, a root canal and one Fuzzy Zoeller

The night before the final round of the 2003 Principal Charity Classic, Fuzzy Zoeller had a toothache. One root canal later, he was back on the course – with a local dentist in tow: “It was just like Rocky,” he said. And just like Fuzzy. Read more from Rick Brown.

Fuzzy Zoeller made a bet with John Daly. It was more like a wake-up slap in the face.

Daly was living hard and fast, and his friends were concerned about him. I’ll bet you $150,000 you don’t make it to 50 years old, Zoeller told Daly.

Well, he did. Daly turned 50 last month, and is now a rookie on the PGA TOUR Champions. The bet, by the way, has been paid off.

“Yeah, he (Zoeller) even said he thought it was 40,” Daly said. “I told him to just give me a bottle of your Fuzzy’s Vodka and we’ll call it even.”

Daly and Zoeller will both be in the field for the upcoming Principal Charity Classic. Both men are characters, fan magnets and two-time major champions. A collective career Grand Slam, if you will.

Zoeller won the 1979 Masters and the 1984 U.S. Open, in a playoff over Greg Norman. Daly went from no-name to big name with his victory in the 1991 PGA Championship, and added the 1995 British Open in a playoff with Costantino Rocca.

While this will be Daly’s first trip to town, Zoeller is a Des Moines veteran. He’s played in the event every year since 2003.

Zoeller is so popular that a bobblehead in his likeness was made in 2012. Zoeller admitted then that his days as a contender were in the rear-view mirror.

“I’m at the back door, and I’ve got one step out,” Zoeller said that year. “I’ve done it my way. As far as my career, I can’t complain. I’ve enjoyed every doggone minute of it.”

Some crazy things have happened during Zoeller’s 39-round Principal Charity Classic career.

In 2003, Zoeller experienced tooth pain the night before the final round. A call went out to Des Moines dentist Bob Margeas. You need a root canal, Margeas told Zoeller. Margeas called a friend, Ty Erickson, a West Des Moines endodontist. Erickson did the root canal.

Zoeller decided to play the final round.

“I had nothing else to do,” Zoeller said.

Margeas followed Zoeller around during that final round, giving him four injections to numb the pain while he shot 73.

“He said, “Give me what you got,’ ” Margeas said. “It was just like Rocky. ‘Come on, Mick, cut me.’ ”

Zoeller also had the craziest ace in Principal Charity Classic history in 2006. It came at the 16th hole at Glen Oaks. His tee shot stopped left of the pin, in the second cut of rough.

“I was already thinking about my next shot,” Zoeller said. “I started walking and asked my caddie for my sand wedge because I figured I was going to chip it.”

Zoeller was behind some bushes, and didn’t see his ball start to roll after a 10-second delay.

But roll it did, right into the cup. Zoeller heard the crowd erupt, and raised his arms in triumph.

“It was a great shot, let me tell you,” Zoeller said. “I hit such a crappy shot to get it to where it was going. It’s a crazy game. I’m glad I don’t have to do this for a living.”

For the record, Zoeller hit a 7-iron on the 163-yard hole.

Back then, 45 PGA TOUR Champions players would put $100 each into a hole-in-one pool. So Zoeller got his $100 back, as well as $4,400 more from his competitors.

“Think I’m going to make ESPN’s worst shots of the day?” he asked.

When the Principal Charity Classic was played in 2005 at Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City, Zoeller left his mark there, too.

After making a 15-footer to save par at No. 9, his final hole of the tournament in Sunday’s final round, Zoeller acknowledged the gallery by taking a bow. Then he threw his putter into Burt’s Pond, which runs along the hole. Witnesses reported Zoeller showed good balance and a perfect follow-through on the toss.

Back at Glen Oaks in 2011, Zoeller followed an opening 81 with a 70.

“When you get older, stuff just happens,” Zoeller said.

Off in the first pairing with Jim Gallagher, Jr., in the second round, the two played in 2 hours 49 minutes. They went in to eat lunch after signing their scorecards. Breakfast was still being served.

Zoeller will be back this year. Though winning is out of the picture, there’s always a chance that he’ll do something to be remembered long after he retires from the game.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 7, Chip-In Magic

Des Moines has a way of attracting longshots.

At the 1999 U.S. Senior Open, journeyman Ed Dougherty quickly became a fan favorite at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club when he contended for a career-altering title that slipped away.

A similar storyline developed at the 2014 Principal Charity Classic. Doug Garwood, a conditional PGA TOUR Champions member and another classic longshot, played the role of Dougherty for three days.

But in the end, it was Tom Pernice, Jr., who was the sole survivor. And the final nine holes at Wakonda had enough going on to make a drama queen jealous. Five different players held at least a share of the lead coming home.

Garwood started the final round with a one-shot lead after opening rounds of 68 and 65. Michael Allen was a shot back. Pernice and Mark Calcavecchia trailed by two.

Garwood’s lead ballooned to four shots when he birdied three of Wakonda’s first four holes. But he wasn’t the only player on a roll.

Bill Glasson, who had teed off two hours ahead of Garwood, tied Wakonda’s competitive course record with an 8-under-par 64, despite winds clocked at 15 mph and gusting to 25.

“You never think you’re going to shoot 64,” said Glasson, who finished at 11-under 205. “But I went out there with a pretty good attitude. You never know.”

That 11-under score looked like it might be good enough to win, or at least get in a playoff.  Three-time Principal Charity Classic winner Jay Haas also got to 11 under with a closing 67, which included a birdie at the 12th, an eagle at the 13th  and another birdie at the 18th.

Calcavecchia joined the group at 11 under after a closing 70, making birdie on the final two holes.

When the final threesome got to the par-3 17th hole, Pernice and Allen were 11 under. Garwood was one shot back. Pernice did himself no favors when he hit his tee shot 15 yards over the green. And then he chipped in for birdie and the outright lead.

“I pride myself in my short game,” Pernice said. “I went to my caddie Freddie (Burns) and said, ‘I might as well chip it in.’ And lo and behold, it went right in.”

After holing the shot, Pernice looked at Burns as if to say, “I told you so.”

Garwood stood over a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th, and knew he had to make it to have any chance. He did. And he carried that momentum over to the 18th green. Both Garwood and Allen had birdie putts on the final green. Allen just missed his, a 25-footer from the back fringe. But Garwood forced overtime by making his 8-footer.

The playoff started on the 18th, and both players parred. Garwood actually found a greenside bunker with his second shot, but blasted to tap-in range. Pernice missed a 25-foot birdie putt for the win, and they headed back to 18 tee for the second playoff hole.

Garwood ran out of magic. His second shot went over the green, while Pernice stuck his approach to eight feet. Garwood chipped to seven feet, but never got to attempt the putt because Pernice made his for the victory.

“I hit some key shots at key times that kept my day going,” Pernice said. “This is an old classic course. I liked it right from the get-go. I’m happy with how things turned out.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 8, Southpaw Celebration

The Wakonda Club has long been considered one of Iowa’s elite golf courses. It is an old-style classic, lined by century-old oak trees.

But history and tradition didn’t stand the test of time when the Principal Charity Classic moved from Glen Oaks to Wakonda in 2013. No, a first was established. The first left-handed winner in tournament history.

Russ Cochran battled a balky putter through the first two rounds, made an adjustment and won the Principal Charity Classic by one shot over Jay Don Blake. The threesome of Mark Calcavecchia, Kirk Triplett and second-round leader Duffy Waldorf shared third, a shot behind Blake. Waldorf played the final 11 holes without a birdie and closed with a 71. Calcavecchia and Triplett both shot 67.

Wakonda played solid defense all week. Not one player posted all three rounds in the 60s, the first time that had ever happened at the Principal Charity Classic. The scoring average of 72.625 was the second-highest in tournament history in relation to par. There were just 95 subpar rounds posted over three days of competition.

Cochran had opened with an even-par 71 that included 32 putts. He needed 27 putts in a second-round 67, and it was a struggle. Cochran said he was “fighting every inch of every foot of putt.”

Cochran made an adjustment in his stroke on the practice green after Saturday’s round. He went with a wider stance, which allowed him to have a smoother, lower takeaway.

“I’m proud of myself,” Cochran said. “I’m glad I pushed the right buttons.”

That smoother stroke led to 26 putts in a final-round 67. But Blake didn’t go away quietly.

After making bogeys on two of the first three holes, he got on a roll. Starting at No. 4, he birdied six of the next nine holes. It looked like it was going to be seven in a 10-hole stretch until Blake misfired from short range on No. 13.

“It was not even two feet,” Blake said. “I couldn’t feel comfortable with the putter. I just didn’t finish that strong.”

He had one final chance to catch Cochran, at the par-4 finishing hole. But Blake didn’t hit his 10-foot birdie putt firm enough.

“A ball out on the left,” Blake said. “I knew I could be aggressive with it. But I eased up on it, and didn’t hit it real solid.”

Blake, who had shot 66 in the second round, settled for a closing 69 to finish one shot back of his good friend. Blake and Cochran started going head-to-head decades earlier in mini-tour events.

“He’s an awesome putter,” Cochran said. “I felt like he was going to make that putt.”

But he didn’t, and Cochran had snapped his victory drought at 35 tournaments.

And it came at Wakonda, an old-style course that was mastered by the Principal Charity Classic’s first southpaw champion.

Cochran, who had battled wrist and rib injuries during that dry spell, was feeling pretty good when this one was over.

“You never know when you’re going to win again,” Cochran said.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 9, Double Dose of Haas

Jay Haas picked the perfect time to catch fire. It happened on the back nine at Glen Oaks Country Club, in the final round of the 2008 Principal Charity Classic.

“It seemed to happen so fast,” said Haas, who was chasing second-round leader Nick Price. “I didn’t have time to get conservative, because I was chasing.”

Haas shot a final-round 6-under-par 65, the lowest round of the tournament, to become the first and only player to successfully defend his Principal Charity Classic title. He also passed Bernhard Langer for the lead in the season money list and the Schwab Cup point standings.

Haas, collecting a winning check for $258,750, also won on back-to-back weeks. He came to town after winning the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., finishing a shot ahead of Langer.

“A month ago, I had a bunch of good finishes,” Haas said. “All of a sudden, I’ve had a great year.”

Haas finished the 54-hole championship at 10-under-par 203, one shot better than Andy Bean. Price, who had a three-putt bogey on the 18th green, was alone in third at 8 under par. He had started the final round at 6 under, one shot better than five players.

Haas and his fast finish started in unexpected fashion. His tee shot on the par-3 14th hole came to rest on the lower portion of the two-tiered green. The cup was on the upper tier, 48 feet away. He made the putt, which ignited his rally.

“That was the shot that got me over the hump, literally and figuratively,” Haas said.

He followed up that dramatic putt with birdies on the next two holes and posted a score that was unmatched.

Bean had a chance to catch him with a birdie at the par-4 18th, but he drove it in the right rough and ended up holing a downhill 27-footer for par.

“If there’s a good par, that was definitely it,” Bean said. “It was some consolation. But there’s a Jay Haas out there, and he played great.”

Price also had a chance to force a playoff with a closing birdie. But he left his uphill 26-footer four feet short.

“I’m standing there and I’m saying to myself, “I’ve got to give this a go,’ ” Price said. “And I leave it four feet short. I was so embarrassed. Everyone is waiting for you to make this putt and you leave it four feet short. I mean, it’s pitiful.”

Price then missed the four-footer for par, a stroke that cost him more than $27,000.

“I was so cross,” Price said. “Cross that I had left that first putt short. I mean, I was seething. It’s like bursting your bubble. After that, finishing second, third, 10th, it doesn’t matter. That sounds unprofessional, but that’s how I felt.”

The three-putt was Price’s only bogey in a final-round 69. Bean finished the tournament with 17 birdies over 54 holes, more than anyone else in the field. He was also the only player to shoot in the 60s all three rounds.

But Haas was just a little bit better, back-to-back better.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Q&A With Legendary Golfer John Daly

The always colorful John Daly has been a fan favorite ever since his unlikely rookie victory at the 1991 PGA Championship. And after recently turning 50, Daly is bringing his famous grip-it-and-rip-it style to PGA TOUR Champions competition. What does “Long John” have to say about being a rookie again? Read on.

NOTE: Daly made his PGA TOUR Champions debut May 6-8 in the Insperity Championship, where he tied for 17th.  The two-time major winner (1991 PGA Championship, 1995 British Open) will make his Des Moines debut May 31-June 5 after announcing the Principal Charity Classic as one of his very first commitments on the 2016 PGA TOUR Champions schedule.

Q: Now that you’re a rookie again, you’re playing a whole new set of courses. That includes the Wakonda Club when you play in this year’s Principal Charity Classic. Will you be going by feel for the first year or so and trying to learn your way around these unfamiliar courses?

JD: I’ll feel everything out and get used to them, and that’s really basically all I can say about it. Just trying to find my way and get to know some of these courses, and hopefully get lucky a few weeks and win some of them.

Q: What are your thoughts about joining the PGA TOUR Champions?

JD: I’m really excited, one, to make it to 50, and two, just to be able to have kind of a home to play again. It’s been pretty tough the past few years, not knowing where I’m going to play and waiting by the phone on exemptions and stuff, and now that I have a category here that I can play a few years and get a schedule going and play a lot of golf, it’s going to be good for me.

Q: Are you nervous about starting your PGA TOUR Champions career?

JD: I think you can ask anybody who plays golf anymore in tournaments all over the world or whatever, whether it’s the Champions, PGA TOUR, Web.com, any of them, if you’re not nervous on the first tee, then you don’t need to be out here. I just hope it’s positive energy, and I hope for me it’s just going to be a confidence builder as the weeks go on because I’m pretty rusty right now not playing a lot of golf in the last nine months.

Q: What do you expect the PGA TOUR Champions to be like as a player?

JD: You know, these guys have played against each other for so many years, and they’ve beaten each other head-to-head and they’ve won tournaments and they’ve won majors. I feel like it’s kind of our time to go out and have a good time and play some golf, very competitive golf. But there’s no drama out here. Nobody is mad at anybody. Nobody is worried about too much of anything except going out and having a good time and playing golf.

Q: Does the PGA TOUR Champions fit your personality?

JD: Guys out here are very approachable. That always helps the sponsors, and when we’re playing the pro-ams, we have no problem helping the amateurs, either. It’s just a good fit, and I’m excited to be out here.

Q: When you look back on your PGA TOUR career (five victories including the two majors), are you satisfied or do you think you could have done more?

JD: I’m satisfied with everything in the 2000s. My mind was right, and I did everything I could to try and win golf tournaments. I wish I would have had the mental attitude back in the 90s like I do now. I think I wasted my talent in the 90s, especially towards the latter part of the 90s. All the money was coming in, and I didn’t work hard enough at it. I didn’t do the right things to prepare myself to win golf tournaments.

Q: Who do you like to watch today and why?

JD: There’s so many of them. I love Rickie Fowler’s game. I love Jason Day’s game. It’s great to see long hitters like Jason Kokrak. He’s probably the longest player I’ve seen (on the PGA TOUR). I like watching him. But there’s so many kids out there that can play. It’s fun to watch all of them, actually.

Q: Do you have any regrets about the off-the-course stuff in those times where you brought so much attention to yourself, or negative things rather than the positives of your golf?

JD: If I lived in the past, I’d be dead. So you can’t live in the past. It’s just not worth it.

Q: Which of your majors is more special, the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick or the British Open at St. Andrews?

JD: The British Open because of where it was at, being at St Andrews.

Q: Your length off the tee got a lot of attention, but do you think your short game was underappreciated during your PGA TOUR career?

JD: Well, if you looked at my short game right now, you probably wouldn’t want to see it. It’s not very good.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 10, Dr. Gil Morgan

The PGA TOUR Champions made its Des Moines debut in 2001. It was, shall we say, a stormy start.

The first-round leader was Dr. Gil Morgan, who shot an opening 65. The round took two days to complete – 16 holes on Friday, the last two on Saturday. The first round started four hours behind schedule because of severe weather, had two more suspensions and wasn’t completed until Saturday. Morgan was one of 51 players who had their opening round stretch over two days. And no fans were allowed on the course Friday because of those severe conditions.

Morgan would end up finishing second, two shots behind winner Jim Thorpe.  But Morgan has been No. 1 when it comes to longevity.

Now 69 years old, Morgan is the only player from that inaugural 78-player field who has played in all 15 Principal Charity Classics (note: prior to Principal becoming the event’s title sponsor in 2007, it was previously known as the Allianz Championship).

“Iowa has been kind of good to me,” Morgan said after finishing play in 2015.

Morgan won seven times on the PGA TOUR. He also has 26 victories on the PGA Champions Tour, over a 12-year span, including this championship in 2006. That was the 25th of his 26 wins as a senior.

He’s completed on three different courses at the Principal – Glen Oaks, Tournament Club of Iowa and the Wakonda Club. That’s 45 official rounds, and many more in pro-ams.

“We just keep going around, and around, and around,” Morgan said.

And that doesn’t include his appearance at the 1999 U.S. Senior Open at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club, where he tied for third.

Here are some statistics that put Morgan’s 15 Des Moines visits in perspective:

  • He’s broken par in at least one round every year. He broke par all three rounds when winning in 2006 (66-64-67) and tying for seventh in 2002 (69-66-70).
  • His all-time Principal Charity Classic stroke average is 70.3.
  • He’s posted 17 rounds in the 60s.
  • He’s broken par in 24 of 45 rounds.
  • He’s finished under par in eight of the 15 tournaments he’s played.
  • Three of his 161 career Top 10 PGA TOUR Champions finishes came in this event, all at Glen Oaks: his victory in 2006, his second-place finish in 2001 and his tie for seventh in 2002.
  • He’s earned $554,687.78 while playing in this tournament. That’s $36,979.19 per visit. It also comes out to $ 12,326.34 per round and $175.26 per shot.

“Sometimes I think I’ve got to be an idiot to keep doing this,” Morgan said. “Making these bogeys and hitting it in the water. Three-putting, all that stuff, works on your psyche. But as long as I feel like I’ve got somewhat of a chance to play well, I’m probably going to keep playing.”

Of course, all good things must come to an end. Morgan, who turns 70 in September, has played in just three PGA TOUR Champions events in 2016. And he’s not entered the Principal Charity Classic at last check.

If he doesn’t return, Morgan will leave behind a consistency of performance that will be hard to top.

“When I go home, the trophies are there,” Morgan said. “At the same time, it doesn’t have that big of an impact on me. I was lucky to be able to do that.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Q&A with Mark Calcavecchia, Defending Principal Charity Classic Champion

Mark Calcavecchia recently caught up with Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter Rick Brown to talk about preparing to defend his Principal Charity Classic title at Wakonda Club, his Midwestern roots, his approach to the game and of course, those famous bacon-print pants. Will they make a repeat appearance? Read on to find out that and more….

RB: How long have you been traveling the PGA TOUR Champions circuit in your RV?

MC: This is the sixth year my wife Brenda and I have been traveling in our motorhome. We tow a Jeep Grand Cherokee behind it. I don’t mind flying, but I’ve always loved to drive. And that thing is fun to drive. But it’s just nice to get where you’re going, and then you have everything right there.

RB: You won last year’s Principal Charity Classic wearing bacon-inspired pants during the final round. Have you heard every joke there is to be told about bacon pants?

MC: I’ve heard some here and there. I’ve got the pants in the motorhome. I’ll be in the full outfit come Friday at the Principal Charity Classic (first round of play is Friday, June 3). Bacon belt and bacon pants, white shirt, white hat. The whole look is coming back out.

RB: Are you superstitious?

MC: At times, yeah.

RB: Last year, as I recall, you didn’t wear the bacon pants in the second round. You wore them in the first and third rounds.

MC: I just wore the bacon belt in the second round. But in the third round, I thought, “Shoot, I’m leading, I better not mess with what’s working here.” So I brought the pants back out.

RB: You’ve broken par in nine straight Principal Charity Classic rounds at Wakonda Club (68.44 stroke average) and finished third in both 2013 and 2014 before winning last year. Are you in your comfort zone here?

MC: I think that has a lot to do with it.  You still have to play well and hit the shots and what not. But I think the week I spent here before the tournament last year helped, playing Harvester, Wakonda, Glen Oaks and Des Moines Golf and Country Club. I played four rounds that week. I ended up buying a putter at a local sporting goods store. I just worked on a few things and got a few things sorted out in my swing and started hitting it pretty good. I felt like I was starting to putt pretty good. In the Pro-Am, I felt like I played pretty good. I’m not sure what I shot. I think it was 4 or 5 under, fairly easily, without trying real hard. I thought, shoot, I’m playing pretty good, and your confidence picks up pretty quick.

RB: You also tied for 10th and were fifth in two appearances at Glen Oaks (2011, 2012). Is this a case of a former Midwesterner (Laurel, Neb.) returning to his roots?

MC: I think so. I said that right when we rolled into town the first time (in 2011). We stayed out in Adel at the KOA there. It was beautiful. It was on the top of a hill out there in a field, and we just loved it. Loved the town, loved West Des Moines, had a good time at Glen Oaks and had a good chance to win that year. And everything felt very reminiscent, flashbacks of the early part of my life.

RB: Is winning the British Open (in 1989 at Royal Troon, beating Greg Norman and Wayne Grady in a playoff) at the top of your list of golfing accomplishments?

MC: For sure.

RB: What a sense of accomplishment, right, winning a major championship and knowing your name will be on the Claret Jug forever?

MC:  It’s a cool trophy. I’ve got two of them at home. The first one is two-thirds the actual size. And then about four years later they came out with one that’s 90 percent of the actual size. So it looks like the real thing. I still look at it once in awhile. When Ernie Els won The Open (in 2012 at Royal Lytham) he was staying in the same hotel we were. By the time he got done with all the media and stuff, we were hanging around the bar waiting for him. When he came in, everyone was taking pictures and holding the Claret again. So it was kind of cool to hold the real thing again, and look at it again. I said, “Hey, there’s my name on it. Let me see that thing!” I wanted to see if they erased my name. But no, there it was, right between Seve (Ballesteros) and (Nick) Faldo.

RB: Your family moved from Nebraska to Florida when you were 13. A year later you played golf with Jack Nicklaus (at Lost Tree Village in North Palm Beach, Fla.)?

MC: I met him the summer we moved there, when I was 13.  Jack Nicklaus, Jr., was probably one of the first kids I met in the Palm Beach County Junior Golf Association. We’re the same age. From that point on we played junior golf against each other, and in high school. Jack came out and watched a lot of our matches. I was pretty sure it was later on that summer he came out and watched a junior tournament we were playing in together and had nice things to say to me right off the bat. And then I think it was the next year, Jackie (Jack, Jr.) saw me up at North Palm Beach Country Club, or maybe it was another junior tournament, and said, “Do you want to play with my dad and I?” I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep that night.

RB: What was tougher, the night before playing with Nicklaus or sleeping on a lead the night before the final round of a pro tournament?

MC: When you’re 14, yeah, playing with Jack Nicklaus. I was pretty excited.

RB: What have PGA TOUR Champions events been like for you? Everyone says they’re more relaxed than the PGA TOUR. But when you’re on the course, is it still competitive?

MC: It doesn’t feel like the British Open, let’s put it that way. But once everybody gets out here and tees it up, it’s still very competitive. The guys still play really well. If you have any designs on winning or having a chance to win, you better bring it from the first tee on Friday. You’ve got to shoot some pretty low scores most of the time. One of the things I love about Wakonda is that you don’t have to shoot that low. There’s a good amount of hard holes out here to balance out some of the easy holes. There’s a good mix. It’s relaxed in the clubhouse and everywhere else.  But when you’re out there and playing in the tournament, everybody is trying to do their best, for sure.

RB: You’ve won 13 times on the PGA TOUR, and three times on the PGA TOUR Champions. Do you feel like you’ve gotten a lot out of your professional career?

MC:  I do. I think if you ask any player this, they’d all probably tell you they could and should have won more. I had 27 second-place finishes on the PGA TOUR. I probably gave 10 of those away. And the other 17 were probably good rallies to finish second. On the PGA TOUR Champions circuit, I’ve only won three times, and I know for a fact that I’ve given five of those away. So 20 wins and eight wins would have sounded better, but you can’t win every time you get in a position to win. You just can’t do it. That’s the nature of this game. Something goofy is liable to happen in the last four or five holes. It does almost every week to somebody. Sometimes the guy with the lead, who looks like he’s going to win, does win. But not always, that’s for sure.

RB: Do you still get those competitive butterflies down the stretch of a tournament?

MC: Definitely. Sometimes it’s less than others. You’ll be playing along and you’ll think, “I’m not even nervous.” And that’s probably the worst thing. Because then you start thinking about it. Other times you’re just kind of edgy all day. Us golfers, we all think a little bit different.

RB: PGA TOUR Champions players seem well aware of the fact that tournaments like the Principal Charity Classic have value beyond a golfing event.

MC: I know it’s a full-year job to run an event like this. Principal’s 10th year now? That’s awesome. You can’t have tournaments without sponsors. And $7.7 million raised for charity, that’s a lot of money. I know it’s well spent, and it goes to kids. It’s awesome.

RB: The PGA TOUR Champions has been called a second mulligan for the guys who play on it.  Is it a good want to keep your competitive fires burning?

MC:  We’re very lucky to be able to do this, at our age. You look at so many other sports, they’re done. They can’t do anything. And golf you can keep playing, and playing well, for a long time.

RB: Do you chase technology looking for an advantage, or are those days in the rear-view mirror?

MC:  I’ve given up entirely on the idea that a certain driver or certain shaft is going to find me 20 more yards. That’s just not going to happen. When you swing it 105 mph, or if I’m feeling loose and it’s warm out, I can come out of my shoes and get to 107. The ball’s only going to go so far. It doesn’t matter what kind of shaft you’ve got in it, or what kind of head you’re using. Irons, I’m still using X100 shafts I used in high school. I’m about as standard as it gets.  And a putter’s a putter.

RB: For a guy from Laurel, Neb., to have a bobblehead in his likeness, that’s big-time, right?

MC: That is big time. Pretty cool. And it’s in the Bobblehead Hall of Fame already (located in Milwaukee).

RB: You’re going back to Troon to play in the British Open in July. Will those bacon pants make the trip?

MC: They won’t. I want to keep them centrally located.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter