Sunday Championship Recap: Scott McCarron Wins 2016 Principal Charity Classic With Closing 65

It’s safe to say that marriage agrees with Scott McCarron.

“It absolutely is,” McCarron said, smiling at the thought, after winning the Principal Charity Classic Sunday at the Wakonda Club.

Since tying the knot with his wife, Jenny, in late April, McCarron has a victory and a pair of Top 10 finishes in PGA TOUR Champions majors.

“She’s been a phenomenal support,” McCarron said. “She’s seen every shot I’ve hit for the last four years. Hasn’t missed a single one. Even when I was thinking about hanging it up and doing TV she really pushed me and kept me going.  I’ve got to hand it to her. She really stuck by me through a lot of difficult times.”

McCarron birdied the final three holes to shoot a closing 65 and finish at 15-under-par 201, one shot better than Miguel Ángel Jiménez (67) and Billy Andrade (68).

There were several key moments along the way, but none were bigger than the 36-foot downhill birdie putt he made on the par-3 17th green.

“That was a biggie,” said McCarron, who played the final 47 holes without a bogey. “I thought 17 was going to be a game changer. Halfway there, I knew it was in.”

But his final birdie, from just inside 10 feet on 18, turned out to be just as important became both Jimenez and Andrade also birdied the closing hole.

McCarron was a bundle of nervous energy as he waited for Jiménez, playing in the group behind him, and Andrade, playing two groups back, to finish. McCarron signed some autographs. Then he put on his sunglasses and stood with Jenny, arms crossed. Then he signed a few more autographs. Then he paced a little bit. Then he did an interview with the Golf Channel. Then he paced some more.

“I’m glad it worked out,” McCarron said. “I’d rather be in control out there, trying to make birdie coming down the stretch. But it was a good feeling. I birdied the last three holes to put myself in that position. I couldn’t do any more.”

Jimenez, trying to win for the second time on the PGA TOUR Champions this year, went up to McCarron after the round, shook his hand, bent over and pretended like he was taking a ball out of the cup. Jiménez saw a lot of that from McCarron down the stretch.

“There’s nothing you can do but congratulate him,” Jiménez said.

Andrade’s rally was really remarkable. He started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead with Todd Hamilton and Joe Durant at 10 under. Andrade bogeyed the first three holes, and fell back in the pack.

But he caught fire on the back nine, making four straight birdies starting at No. 12 and closing with a 5-under 31. Andrade set a tournament record with 21 birdies. He was 13 under par on the back nine in three rounds.

“I’m pretty proud of the way I hung in there after the start I had,” Andrade said.

Six different players had at least a share of the lead during the final round – Andrade, Hamilton, Durant, McCarron, Jiménez and Duffy Waldorf. Durant, Jimenez and McCarron had the outright lead. But in the end, McCarron was the last man standing.

Durant and Waldorf finished in a tie for fourth at 11 under par. Tom Lehman and Rocco Mediate, last week’s Senior PGA Championship winner, were another shot back and tied for sixth.  Lehman has finished eighth or better in all five of his Principal Charity Classic appearances.

This was McCarron’s first victory since he won the 2001 BellSouth Classic on the PGA Tour in 2001.

“So this feels good,” McCarron said. “I’ve been playing well. I knew it was coming. I put myself in position. It was just a matter of getting back in the feel again, what does it feel like, how are my nerves under pressure.”

McCarron tied for sixth at the Regions Tradition and was seventh in the Senior PGA Championship leading into the Principal Charity Classic.

And Sunday he was No. 1. He had just one bogey in 54 holes. And a first-prize check of $262,500 to show for it.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Saturday Recap: Andrade Breaks Course Record, Fans Set Attendance Best

Billy Andrade tied for 10th in last year’s Principal Charity Classic, and it was a mood-altering experience. He shot 66 in the first and third rounds, but 76 in the second round.

“I played with Bernhard Langer on the first and third day,” Andrade said. “We were in the locker room afterwards and he said, ‘You shoot 12 under with me, you shoot 4 over without me. You need to play with me more often.’ I said, ‘Yea, no kidding.’”

Langer skipped this year’s Principal Charity Classic, but Andrade didn’t miss him.

Andrade shot a record-setting 9-under-par 63 in Saturday’s second round and shares the lead with Joe Durant and Todd Hamilton at 10 under par heading into Sunday’s final round.

Another record was set Saturday. The 26,719 fans who came to Wakonda set a second-round attendance record. Friday’s announced attendance of 25,058 was also a record for the first round.

Tom Lehman and Miguel Ángel Jiménez both birdied the 18th hole to finish at 9 under. Lehman, who shot 68, has broken par in all 14 career rounds at the Principal Charity Classic. He’s finished eighth or better in his last four appearances.

Jimenez, making his first appearance at Wakonda, bounced back from a double bogey at No. 7 and a bogey at the par-5 15th to finish within a shot of the lead with a 67.

Eight players head into Sunday’s final round within two shots of the lead. Rocco Mediate, the winner at the Senior PGA Championship last week, is at 8 under along with Scott McCarron and first-round leader John Inman. Inman was alone in the lead at 11 under until he hit two balls in the water and made a triple-bogey 6 at the par-3 17th hole.

In the 15-year history of this event, no one has ever come from more than two shots back to win.

Much of Saturday’s attention was on Andrade and his record-setting round of golf.

“It was a great day,” Andrade said. “I was going along pretty well, then I birdied 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18.”

Andrade also got off to a good start on the front nine, making three straight birdies starting at No. 3. After his only bogey of the day at No. 6, he bounced back with another birdie on No. 8 to turn in 33. Then came his 6-under 30 on the back nine.

“I didn’t get off to a great start (Friday),” Andrade said. “This golf course is pretty easy. But when you’re off a little bit it can really play hard, and it’s tough to hit these fairways.”

Andrade’s 63 is the lowest round shot in the Principal Charity Classic at the Wakonda Club, which became tournament host in 2013.  It was also a course record at Wakonda, which opened in 1922. The previous low, 64, was posted by Bill Glasson in 2014 (final round) and Bart Bryant in 2013 (second round).

It also tied the all-time tournament record in relation to par. Kirk Triplett shot a 9-under-par 62 in the final round of the 2012 tournament at Glen Oaks (par 71). There were also a trio of 63s shot at Glen Oaks: John Bland in the second round in 2002; Massy Kuramoto in the final round in 2007; and Tommy Armour III in the first round in 2010.

Durant shot 65 Saturday at a Wakonda course he’s had success on. Durant tied for second in 2015 and was seventh in 2014. He’s shot in the 60s in seven of eight career rounds here.

“It’s going to take a lot of birdies to have a chance,” Durant said.

Hamilton also birdied 18 for a second straight 67 to be part of a jammed leaderboard.

“I think it’s going to be great for the fans,” said Hamilton, who has a piece of the lead heading into the final round for the first time since he won the 2004 British Open. “We saw a guy (Saturday) shooting 9 under. It’s definitely gettable.”

Andrade and playing partners Jeff Sluman and Duffy Waldorf rode each other’s momentum all day. Sluman had a 68, Waldorf a 67. Their best ball was a 14-under 58. Someone in the group birdied every hole on the back nine.

Andrade, who won three times on the PGA TOUR Champions in 2015, lost a playoff to Esteban Toledo at the Allianz Championship this year and also finished fifth in last week’s Senior PGA Championship. He’s finished in the Top 10 in four of his last five starts.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Andrade said. “I feel good about my game. I know I’ve got to shoot a good round (Sunday).  I’ve just got to play my best and see if that’s good enough. Anybody can do what I did (Saturday). That’s how good everybody is. When they get hot, they can flush it out.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Friday Recap: Inman Leads Field With Opening 65, Iowa Well-Represented

Tom Lehman couldn’t believe it.

“No way,” Lehman said. “Is that right?”

Way.

Lehman, Woody Austin and Jerry Smith were paired together in the first round of the Principal Charity Classic Friday at the Wakonda Club. All three are former winners of the Waterloo Open earlier in their careers.

Lehman won there in 1986, Smith in 1991 and Austin in 1993.

“That’s amazing,” Lehman said.  “What a small world, you know that?”

What is not amazing is Lehman’s appearance near the top of the Principal Charity Classic leaderboard. This is his fifth appearance, and Friday was his 13th official round. He’s been under par in all 13 rounds.

Lehman opened with a 5-under 67 Friday, giving him a career stroke average of 68.38 in this event. He tied for sixth in 2011 and tied for fourth in 2012, both at Glen Oaks. And he tied for seventh in 2013 and tied for eighth in 2014, both at Wakonda.

“The course fits me,” Lehman said. “It always has since I was in college (playing for Minnesota in tournaments hosted by Drake).  There are areas that are a little bit awkward, and I don’t mind that. You have to have some imagination, and I like that. The wind typically blows, and I like that. And the greens are difficult, so you really have to pay attention where you put it. I like that, too. There’s no guarantees, but I do like the golf course.”

Smith, a native of Oskaloosa, finished with a 68 Friday. That’s his career low in this event. This is his third appearance here.

“Playing with Tom is pretty easy, and Woody is Woody,” Smith said. “I like Woody a lot. I feel good. With me, it comes down to off the tee, and the short putts.”

Everyone heads into Saturday’s second round trailing John Inman, who shot a 65 and leads runners-up Lehman, Todd Hamilton, Gary Hallberg, Mike Goodes and John Riegger by two shots.

Inman wasn’t even in the tournament until Tuesday, when he was the low qualifier at Tournament Club of Iowa with a 65. This is his 42nd career PGA TOUR Champions event. His best career finish is a tie for ninth, which he has done twice.

Inman’s 65 Friday was his lowest score in a PGA TOUR-sponsored event since he shot 65 in the third round of the Hardee’s Golf Classic in 1994 at Oakwood Country Club in Coal Valley, Ill. (now the John Deere Classic).

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, Inman didn’t have a par on his scorecard until the seventh hole Friday. He birdied the first four holes, made a bogey and then birdied No. 6.

“When you get off to a good start, and you make some birdies right off the bat, it’s always a nice feeling and I stayed relaxed,” Inman said.

Inman knows that when he arrives to the first tee Saturday, his brilliant play of Friday won’t automatically be there. In his previous round, on Sunday at the Senior PGA Championship, Inman played the final four holes 4 over par.

“Things change day to day,” Inman said. “But like I said, I know that I’ve been working on some good things and I’m just going to go out and enjoy myself and have fun.”

Inman also knows that first-round leaders often don’t finish as final-round leaders.

Only three times in this tournament’s 15-year history has the first-round leader gone on to win. D.A. Weibring went wire-to-wire to win in 2004 at Glen Oaks. Tom Jenkins, who won at Tournament Club of Iowa in 2005, shared the first-round lead.  And Jay Haas went wire-to-wire to win in 2007 back at Glen Oaks.

Friday’s feature threesome of Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Rocco Mediate and John Daly had mixed results. Jimenez bounced back from a first-hole bogey to shoot 68.

Mediate, fresh off last week’s victory at the Senior PGA Championship, had a 69. Daly bogeyed four straight holes in the back nine (14 through 17) and shot 74. He is a PGA Tour Champions rookie making his first appearance in Des Moines.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter