Brandt Jobe celebrated his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory at the 2017 Principal Charity Classic, holding off defending champion Scott McCarron and eventual Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland by one shot at historic Wakonda Club in Des Moines.
Jobe continued his strong play throughout the 2017 season – including a record-tying round of 62 at the U.S. Senior Open – before finishing 7th in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings.
The 51-year-old Texas resident recently returned to Des Moines for the Principal Charity Classic’s 2018 Media Day and visited Wakonda Club for the first time since his victory.
RB: You ended a long drought (403 events on the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR Champions) with your victory at the Principal Charity Classic last year. When you sit here and look out at Wakonda’s 18th green, I’m sure that brings back some special memories.
BJ: I’m sitting here envisioning my shot, what club I hit here, what I had to do. It does feel good. I had a lot of close calls on TOUR, and I probably wasn’t as good a player as I should have been. I tried to juggle family and golf a lot. But at the end of the day, I think I made the right decision because I’m close to my kids.
RB: What kept you going during that streak outside the winner’s circle?
BJ: My wife (Jennifer). If I call her up and say, ‘I’m going to do this, or I’m going to play there,’ she’s always been a go. And when you have someone telling you, ‘Go practice, go for it,’ it’s pretty nice to have that support mechanism. I wish I would have done some things differently with my game, but I’ve had a heck of a run. I’ve got a great wife, great kids (daughter, Brittan, and son, Jackson). Everyone has been supportive. And I’m doing what I love to do. I’m over 50, and I’m still playing golf. It doesn’t get much better than that.
RB: You suffered a freak accident back in 2006, when a plastic-and-steel broom handle you were using to clean leaves out of your garage in suburban Dallas snapped, and sliced off the tip of your left thumb and forefinger to the bone. Luckily, you acted quickly, put them on ice and had them reattached successfully. Did you think golf was over?
BJ: My daughter was there, and it was not something a 6-year-old needs to see. I was covered in blood. Luckily, I had a friend down the street (former TOUR player Brian Watts), and he gave me a ride to the hospital. On the ride there I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m done.’
RB: You called a doctor friend of yours, who knew a microsurgeon, Dr. David Zehr (who just happened to be on call at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas). And he was able to put you back together.
BJ: He came in and said, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ I got unlucky with the broom breaking, but I was so lucky that a great doctor was there to help out.
RB: What is it about your left side? You’ve had several surgeries on your left shoulder, left wrist, and then your left hand.
BJ: This one is perfect (holding up his right arm).
RB: You attended the 1978 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in Denver, Colorado. Isn’t that where golf caught your fancy?
BJ: I was 13 or 14 years old, a big baseball player. I didn’t really play golf. But I thought, ‘How cool is this?’ If you go out and shoot 71, you’re at 71. Playing baseball, I went 1-for-3 and some other kid went 1-for-5, and he’s batting in front of me. Why? Because there are coaches and other things involved. I thought golf was pretty cool. What you shoot is what you are. It was so fair. A brutally honest game. I think that’s what attracted me to it. I played a year of high-school golf (at Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colo.), and I got lucky.
RB: You first met Scott McCarron in the parking lot at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles when you both were freshmen at UCLA. He won his first PGA TOUR Champions title at the 2016 Principal Charity Classic. And then you went out and did the same thing here a year later.
BJ: I wouldn’t have expected this to be Scott McCarron’s first win, at all. And I certainly wouldn’t have expected it to be mine. I thought it would have been at one of the bigger courses, because our advantage is definitely length. But length does have a place (at Wakonda Club), too.
RB: Can you imagine during your first conversation with Scott at Bel-Air if you had said, ‘I bet we both win on the PGA TOUR Champions for the first time in Des Moines, Iowa.’
BJ: That would have been crazy, right? Crazy.
RB: You’re coming off a great 2017 season (one victory, seven top-10s, more than $1 million in earnings). You also matched the record low round in a U.S. Senior Open with a 62 in the third round at Salem Country Club before finishing third. Where does that 62 rank in the memory bank?
BJ: That was fun. Great golf course, a USGA event. A very memorable round. It was very cool to come up to the 18th hole and open up (TV) coverage by hitting a shot in there to four feet, and then make the putt. It was neat for my kids. They were there. They hadn’t gotten a chance to do all the media stuff. So they got to go on FOX (TV) with me, and go in the big USGA (interview room) and be a part of that. It really helped them understand, ‘This is what dad does.’ It was really special for me to have them be a part of that.
RB: Your career resume shows you typically start slow each season and then build momentum as you go. Is that the case again this year?
BJ: If you look at my past seasons, I’m right on track. I’m always working on stuff. Sometimes my tweaks don’t work, sometimes they do. Ballstriking is usually a strength, and it’s been a weakness this year. Putting’s usually the weakness, and it’s been a strength.
RB: You came to Wakonda last year with a bunch of putters, looking to find your stroke. And you found it.
BJ: I’m not a guy who usually changes things. I think I had eight or nine putters on the practice green. I whittled it down to three and took all of them with me during the Pro-Am. I went six holes with the first one I thought I’d putt with, and said, ‘Nah.’ Three holes with the next one, and it wasn’t right. I had this SeeMore I went with the rest of the day, and shot 6 under par. That’s the putter that kind of got things going.
RB: You said you don’t like to change equipment, but you have a bag full of new clubs. What happened?
BJ: I got my equipment broken after the first event of the year (Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai). They ran over my golf clubs. Thank you, American Airlines. They had to pry my TOUR bag apart. Someone ran over them with a truck. Three-wood, gone. Driver, gone. Two new sand wedges, gone. A couple of other shafts, gone. Putter survived, though.
RB: Dialing in the proper equipment is a science. Equipment is your livelihood. What did American tell you?
BJ: They said to send in receipts for when I purchased the equipment. I told them it’s not the money. You don’t understand how much time I’ve put in getting some of those things. The driver, for me, was 30 or 40 shafts of testing, hours and hours of time, going to the factories and doing all of those things. That actually slowed me up quite a bit this year. But I think I’m in pretty good shape now.
RB: The first 2017 PGA Tour Champions event your wife Jennifer attended was the Principal Charity Classic in her home state (she’s from Dubuque). She was going to attend your son’s baseball tournament, as I recall, but family members talked her into coming to Des Moines.
BJ: Her brother and sister both said, ‘Are you crazy? Go.’ She got to see her sisters, her mom and dad. The first tournament she comes to, it’s in her home state, both her sisters and her dad come out, and I win? Pretty amazing.
By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter
Editor’s note: The first 500 fans to arrive at the Principal Charity Classic on Sunday, June 10, will receive a free Brandt Jobe bobblehead (pictured above). Can’t wait? Brandt’s bobbleheads are currently available for purchase, while supplies last, at principalcharityclassicstore.com. All proceeds benefit Iowa children’s charities.