Principal Charity Classic announces 2019 tournament dates.

Save the date!

The Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo, the annual and award-winning PGA TOUR Champions event in Des Moines, is moving up one week on the calendar in 2019.

The tournament dates for next year are May 28-June 2, 2019.

The 2019 Principal Charity Classic will immediately follow the 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, set for May 21-26 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., on next year’s PGA TOUR Champions schedule.

Last year, Principal extended its Principal Charity Classic title sponsorship through 2023. Principal has served as title sponsor since 2007, along with Wells Fargo as presenting sponsor. The extension announcement included the tournament’s host venue, with Wakonda Club set to host the Principal Charity Classic through 2023.

The tournament has donated more than $13 million – and counting – for Iowa children’s charities since it began. In 2017, the Principal Charity Classic donated a record $3,581,427 and touched the lives of more than 130,000 Iowa kids.

The Principal Charity Classic will announce the total charitable dollars raised by its 2018 tournament later this summer.

Ticket sales for the 2019 tournament will open later this year as well.

For more information, visit principalcharityclassic.com.

 


Looking back at the 2018 Principal Charity Classic.

Sleep didn’t come easy for Nick Cecere in the days leading up to last week’s Principal Charity Classic.

In his first year as chairman of the tournament’s board of directors, Cecere worried that everything would go off as planned.

“It’s different being a board member looking at things outside-in versus being the chairman and looking at things inside-out, and making sure that every little detail goes well,” Cecere said.

As things were winding down Sunday, Cecere had a winning smile on his face.

“I think it really went well,” Cecere said. “Better than expected. We had great sponsorship, and great volunteers. The PGA TOUR was great working with us. So was Wakonda and its members. Everything came together perfectly.”

Even though severe weather forced cancellation of the final round and robbed golf fans of the anticipated final-round drama, the positive vibe and energy surrounding the 2018 Principal Charity Classic was unmistakable.  And the big picture – raising money for children’s charities – marches on with 20/20 vision.

“I think there’s really momentum behind this tournament,” said Dan Houston, the president, chairman and CEO of Principal.

Both Houston and Cecere predict a record amount of charitable dollars will be raised from this year’s tournament. The existing record, $3,581,427, was established in 2017.

Heading into this season, more than $13 million had been raised for children’s charities since Principal took over as title sponsor in 2007. Wells Fargo is the presenting sponsor of the PGA TOUR Champions stop.

It’s not by accident that the word charity in in the tournament’s title. It’s a reminder that birdies and eagles are nice on a scorecard, but helping kinds is why Principal and its corporate sponsors tee it up.

“We want every spectator and everyone who attends to know that what they’re doing here is not supporting Principal,” Houston said. “They’re supporting charities.”

And supporting youngsters like Cooper, 10, one four 2018 Kids Can Champions. Cooper, who was nominated for the first-year program by Blank Children’s Hospital, is in remission for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Blank Children’s Hospital, Children’s Cancer Connection, Make-A-Wish Iowa, Tori’s Angels Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society have all played a role in Cooper’s life. And they all receive charity dollars from the Principal Charity Classic.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the charities,” Houston said. “This is a very unique community event. You’ve got 350 different businesses that have come together to support it. That is No. 1. And No. 2, this is one of the highest-grossing charitable tournaments on the PGA TOUR Champions.”

Tom Lehman won the 2018 Principal Charity Classic, on the strength of rounds of 66 and 65. A Minnesota native who has flirted with this title for years, Lehman finally collected the handsome trophy and a first-place check for $262,500.

Lehman, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., but grew up in Minnesota and is a Midwesterner at heart, is always quick to mention how charity is such a vital piece of the PGA TOUR Champions puzzle. And he’s not alone.

“The community is really embracing this tournament,” said Bernhard Langer, who has won 37 times on the PGA TOUR Champions and tied for second Sunday. “It’s great they come out in super numbers and they really know their golf and they love cheering us on. It’s great to see lots of kids. We appreciate everybody embracing this, and it’s all for a good cause. It’s for charity.”

A first-round record 26,465 fans came to Wakonda on Friday. Another 26,431 came through the gates on Saturday. Cecere made the rounds both days on foot. He wanted to see first-hand how fans were enjoying the experience.

“Indiscriminately, people came up to me and said, “Hey, this is a great day for the Principal Charity Classic, and a great day for Des Moines,” Cecere said.

Cecere also talked to as many players as he could, and their response was nothing but positive.

“Believe it or not, they were as interested in the charitable side of it as they were the golf,” Cecere said.

He also stopped in the skyboxes to shake hands, look and listen.

“I asked, “What can we do better?’” Cecere said. “One of them said, “We liked it so much we want to sign up for next year already.’”

Cecere has a better grasp of things with a year of experience under his belt. Sleep should come easier from here on out.

“Every part of our community enjoys this thing,” Cecere said. “And that’s what really makes it special.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Recap: Tom Lehman is the 2018 Principal Charity Classic champion.

When one weather delay turned into another Sunday at the Principal Charity Classic, Tom Lehman grew antsy as he sat in his West Des Moines hotel room.

He said he felt like a placekicker getting iced by the opposing coach with timeout after timeout before a field-goal attempt.

Lehman, the leader by two shots, got to the point where he couldn’t take it any more. He and his daughter, Rachael, who also caddies for him, headed to Jordan Creek Mall. She was in a store, buying makeup, when Tom’s phone rang.

“Pay for it,” Tom told his daughter. “We’ve got to go.”

Lehman had just received a message that tournament officials were close to making a decision on whether or not the third round would be played.

On the drive to the Wakonda Club, Lehman got another call from Joe Terry, a PGA TOUR Champions rules official. No golf. Father and daughter celebrated.

“As much as you can in a car as you’re driving, yeah,” Lehman said.

Lehman’s record 36-hole score of 131 (66-65), 13 under par for two laps around Wakonda, was good for a two-shot victory over Bernhard Langer, Scott Parel, Glen Day and Woody Austin. Langer was in the hunt for a 38th PGA TOUR Champions title.

“I finally found a way to beat Bernhard Langer,” Lehman joked.

With 13 players within five shots of the lead heading into the final round, Sunday promised to be a day of drama and great golf. This is the first weather-shortened event in the tournament’s 18-year history.

“I feel bad for the fans,” Lehman said. “I think they were going to get a great show with all the low scores.”

Friday’s attendance of 26,465 was a first-round record. Another 26,431 were on hand Saturday. They saw the field average 70.519 shots on Friday, a record low at Wakonda. It lasted one day. The field broke it by averaging 70.195 strokes on Saturday.

“Tom Lehman set a two-day course record, which is a big deal,” said Dan Houston, the chairman, president and CEO of Principal. “Things really went off perfectly the last two days. And I assure you one thing. We’re not going to let the last day of bad weather take away from what has been a fantastic tournament.”

Houston predicted the tournament would pass the record $3,581,427 raised for charity last year.

Lehman has now won 11 times on the PGA TOUR Champions. He won five times on the PGA TOUR, including the 1996 British Open.

“Kind of a hollow victory,” Lehman said. “A backdoor victory. But I’ll take it.”

Lehman had finished eighth or better in his previous six Principal Charity Classic appearances. He’s broken par in all 20 rounds he has played in the event and compiled a sporty 68.43 stroke average.

This victory, on a course he first played in college when he attended the University of Minnesota, serves as bookends of sorts for Lehman’s outstanding career.

“I think I was 19 when I played here for the first time in the (Drake Relays) tournament,” Lehman said.

Lehman won that Drake title. Sunday, the 59-year-old was a winner at Wakonda again.

“So 40 years of golfing experience, going back,” Lehman said. “And so to come back at this level, I think it’s kind of unique. It’s one of those little things that nobody really knows or cares about but the people who were a part of it.”

Lehman said his daughter will get her full share of the winner’s check of $262,500, even though Sunday turned into a day off.

“If I get a full share, she gets a full share,” Lehman said.

Rachael has been an ideal caddie for her dad.

“She doesn’t know that much about golf,” Lehman said. “But she’s extremely supportive.”

Rachael, 28, who is married, loves her current job.

“I’ve always been a daddy’s girl, but it definitely helps to be closer and spent quality time with him,” she said.

It was a winning combination for the Lehmans on Sunday, without a swing of the club.

“It’s nice to win,” said Lehman, the only golfer to ever be named the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Web.com TOUR player of the year. “I have to be honest, 20 years from now no one’s really going to care too much about how you won, but a win’s a win.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Recap: Round 2 at the Principal Charity Classic.

Tom Lehman’s track record at the Principal Charity Classic has been consistently impressive.

He’s never placed outside the Top 10 in six previous appearances at this PGA TOUR Champions stop. In fact, a tie for eighth is his worst finish. On Sunday, the Minnesota native would like to finish what he started.

“You better believe it would be nice to win here,” said Lehman, who takes a two-shot lead into the final round after a 7-under-par 65 Saturday. “But there are a lot of good players, and a lot of low scores.”

Lehman’s only bogey of the tournament, at the 18th hole Saturday, gave him a 36-hole score of 131. It’s the lowest 36-hole score since the PGA TOUR Champions event moved from Glen Oaks to Wakonda in 2013. The 65 was also a career low for Lehman in 20 Principal Charity Classic rounds. All 20 rounds have been under par.

That final-role bogey reduced Lehman’s lead to two shots over Bernhard Langer (69), Scott Parel (66), Glen Day (68) and Woody Austin (68). Corey Pavin (67) and Jerry Kelly (68) are tied for sixth.

The field averaged 70.195 strokes in the second round, a low at Wakonda. The previous mark, of 70.519, had been set on Friday.

“There are a ton of guys at eight, nine, 10, 11 under par,” Lehman said. “That’s why that bogey on the last hole is so disappointing. I was trying to separate myself from the field by one more shot. To let the field be one shot closer is frustrating. It makes tomorrow more of a challenge. I’ll have to play another good round.”

A big drive left Lehman just 63 yards from the hole on his approach to the 18th. But his second shot sailed long into a snarly lie in the rough. His chip went 10 feet past and his par putt burned the cup but didn’t fall.

“The bogey was disappointing, but you really can’t let that dictate how you feel about the course or the entire day, or the first two days,” Lehman said. “I’ve played a lot of very good golf. I made a blunder there. But it is what it is. You move on.”

A 10-time winner on the PGA TOUR Champions, Lehman has taken the lead or the share of the lead into the final round nine times. He’s won five of those tournaments.

Earlier this year, Lehman and Langer lost a playoff to Kirk Triplett and Paul Broadhurst at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge. They’ve played as a team in that event for seven years, winning it in 2009.

But Sunday will be man-to-man. Langer has won 37 times on the PGA TOUR Champions. In seven of those victories, he’s overcome deficits of two shots or more heading into the final round.

Langer knows the winning formula.

“Play perfect golf, hit good tee shots, good iron shots, make some putts,” Langer said. “That’s what you need to do. Otherwise, you’re not going to win.”

Langer’s overall track record is not as impressive as Lehman’s at the Principal Charity Classic. Langer tied for 31st in his first visit to Wakonda in 2013. And a tie for 48th in 2015 was his worst finish all season. But he’s learned to play this old-style classic, finishing fourth last season and getting himself into contention again this year.

A victory on Sunday would give him a little Wakonda payback.

“It’s always fun to win, period,” Langer said. “But it’s great to win on a golf course that you’ve struggled with for awhile. It would be very satisfying.”

The Principal Charity Classic is just one of eight tournaments on this year’s 27-event PGA TOUR Champions schedule that Langer hasn’t won. And two of those are first-year events.

Parel has come close to victory on the PGA TOUR Champions this season. At the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, he found himself in a playoff with Steve Flesch and Langer.  Langer bowed out on the first hole. Flesch won with a birdie on the second hole.

“Obviously, I’m going to have to shoot a pretty low score again (Sunday) to have a chance,” Parel said. “If the weather holds in there, I think it will be a great day.”

Lehman, the 1996 British Open champion, will be trying to win on a course he first played as a collegian at the University of Minnesota.

“I feel really comfortable with the course and the ability to shoot a good score here,” Lehman said. “It’s just a matter of whether the score you shoot is going to be good enough to win.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Recap: Round 1 at the Principal Charity Classic.

Windless Wakonda was defenseless Friday, and the scoreboard showed it in the first round of the Principal Charity Classic.

No wind, and plenty of birdies on a sun-kissed day.

“I think it opens the door to everybody when it’s calm and soft like this,” said Glen Day, one of the par-breakers. “Everybody’s in it.”

Fifty-three players broke par Friday. Twenty-nine of them shot in the 60s.  There were 14 bogey-free rounds. And the day’s scoring average, 70.519, was the lowest for a round since the tournament moved to Wakonda in 2013. The previous low, 70.568, came in the second round in 2014.

And it comes as no surprise that Bernhard Langer took advantage more than anyone else.

The two-time Masters champion, who has won 37 times on the PGA TOUR Champions, shot a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead.

“Bogey free is always fun,” Langer said.

Day, who shared the first- and second-round lead a year ago, and Woody Austin were a shot back at 65. And it’s a formidable group at 66.

That’s where you’ll find defending champion Brandt Jobe, perennial Principal contender Tom Lehman and Jerry Kelly, who picked up the third victory of his PGA TOUR Champions career at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai earlier this season. Also there is Doug Garwood who lost in a playoff with Tom Pernice, Jr., at the 2014 Principal Charity Classic.

Lehman, who first played Wakonda when he was attending college at Minnesota, has finished eighth or better in his six previous Principal appearances. He’s now shot in the 60s in six of has last seven rounds at Wakonda.

Jobe is trying to join Jay Haas (2007, 2008) as the only players to successfully defend their Principal title.

“I think if nothing else, you want to have a good showing,” Jobe said. “I think that’s important.”

After struggling to tame Wakonda in first two attempts, a tie for 31st in 2013 and a tie for 48th in 2015, Langer looks to have figured things out.

In his first eight rounds at Wakonda, Langer was 9 under par and had no bogey-free rounds. In the last two rounds, a closing 67 last year and Friday’s 64, he’s a collective 13 under par with two bogey-free rounds.

“I think I have a pretty good idea now how to play to golf course,” said Langer, who finished fourth last year.

Friday’s 64 was Langer’s best round at Wakonda by two strokes. He shot 66 in the first round last year, which shared the lead with Day and Kevin Sutherland.

Day and Jobe were tied for the lead after the second round. Jobe won. Day shot a final-round 76 and tied for 13th.

“Honestly, I could not tell you what I shot,” Day said. “No big deal. It happens to everybody.”

Day said he had no trouble getting over his final round a year go.

“Real easy,” Day said. “I had about three Coors Lights.”

Day has two more laps around Wakonda to make up for last season’s sour finish.

“We’ll just go out and play again,” Day said. “And then when Sunday comes we’ll get up, put on another pair of pants and try again.”

Jobe spent two hours on Wakonda’s driving range after playing in Thursday’s pro-am, trying to find his winning swing again.

“I didn’t like how I played (in the pro-am), and I had time to grind it out (on the range),” Jobe said. “I said, ‘All right, I’m not leaving here until I’ve got what I want to do.’”

The proof was in the practice. Jobe’s bogey-free 66 included three birdies on both nines.

Langer, who turns 61 in August, is chasing Hale Irwin’s PGA TOUR Champions record of 45 victories. He’s won at least once in 12 consecutive seasons after his victory in last month’s Insperity Invitational. He’s been the leading money winner in nine of the last 10 seasons, and is about the pass Irwin as the career earnings leader.

Langer’s got another goal, too. He’s getting closer and closer to shooting his age.

“That’s been my goal for about a year,” Langer said. “So I’m working on it.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Q&A with Mike Small.

Mike Small has been the men’s golf coach at the University of Illinois for 18 seasons. He’s given the program a national brand, with 11 consecutive NCAA appearances, a runner-up finish in 2013 and nine Big Ten titles in the last 10 years.

Small, playing in the Principal Charity Classic on a sponsor exemption, is also an accomplished player. He’s won the PGA Professional Championship three times and competed on both the PGA TOUR and the Web.com Tour, where he won twice. Steve Stricker’s former teammate at Illinois, this is Small’s seventh PGA TOUR Champions event.

RB: You lived in Iowa for a spell, tying for fourth in the 1989 Iowa Amateur. What were you doing?

MS: I just graduated, and I wasn’t going to play professional golf, even though I had some opportunities. I decided I was going to get a job, go to work. I was getting married. I was going to do the normal American thing. I did it eight months, and decided I needed to play golf. So I turned pro after that. I made it on the PGA TOUR (in 1995). The rest is history.

RB: You were living in Iowa City for those eight months. What were you doing?

MS: I worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. But I quickly changed my dream, my passion.

RB: You’ve become the Bernhard Langer of college coaches, putting together an incredible string of success. How have you done that?

MS: We’ve developed a strong culture, a strong mindset. And the kids want to perpetuate that. We recruit good kids, first of all.  We recruit worldwide. We raised a lot of money and built some really good facilities. We’ve got a lot of people on TOUR. The people move the needle. We’ve sustained it, and we’re proud of that.”

RB: You’ve played in 10 PGA Championships, three U.S. Opens and three U.S. Senior Opens. Does that experience help your coaching?

MS: You play to be nervous. I’ve hit great shots in front of 30,000 or 40,000 people, and hit horrible shots. I’ve made a fool of myself. I’ve done it all in my career. I enjoy being out there and testing myself. But it also makes my coaching better.  When I’m out there, I’m feeling the emotions they’re feeling. I can relate. If you haven’t done it for five, 10 or 15 years, you tend to forget about it. So, I think coaching helps my playing and playing helps my coaching.

RB: Have you considered trying to play fulltime on the PGA TOUR Champions?

MS: If I’d never played on the PGA TOUR, I’d be thinking I might want to try it. But I played on the PGA TOUR. I know what it’s like. It’s fun, but I’ve got a good gig at Illinois. They’re taking good care of me. You never say never, but I’m in a good place right now.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


For Brandt Jobe, the Principal Charity Classic feels personal.

As the defending champion of the Principal Charity Classic, Brandt Jobe returned to Des Moines for a pre-tournament media day on April 23.

His stops included a visit to Blank Children’s Hospital, one of the event’s six tournament charity partners. It was a visit that hit home for Jobe.

He was in eighth grade, just into his teenage years, when he spent a month at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver.

He was suffering from Reye’s Syndrome, an allergic reaction to aspirin.

“One out of three live,” Jobe said. “At first they didn’t know what I had. They thought it was the plague or something. I was in a tented room. My mom and dad came in masks. My dad was a doctor. He was going crazy.”

Reye’s Syndrome was the eventual diagnosis.

“You can’t keep anything down and you start whittling away,” Jobe said. “Your body fights it or it doesn’t, and you die.”

Jobe’s stomach was pumped constantly, and he had IVs in his arm.

“I remember a big day was getting up, walking down the hall and walking back,” Jobe said.

Brandt spent time hanging out with an older boy who had the same diagnosis.

“All of a sudden he’s gone,” Jobe said. “He didn’t make it. I didn’t know.”

Jobe recalls ministers from his family church coming in one day to see him, and started thinking the worse.

“I said to my mom and dad, ‘What are they doing here?’” Jobe said. “I guess I got a little closer than I thought.”

All those memories come back when Brandt, a father of two, makes stops to places like Blank Children’s Hospital. He visited with several kids during his April visit. Jobe gave kids his bobblehead. He putted with several of them on a makeshift green, played video games with others. Kids who first kept their distance ended up sitting on his lap.

“If you can just change their day a little bit,” Jobe said. “They were able to have a little fun. That’s a big deal in their life. I’m glad this tournament is so involved with (Blank Children’s Hospital) here. That’s what it’s all about.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


5 Questions with…Alfonso Ribeiro

Actor and comedian Alfonso Ribeiro played in the Prairie Meadows Pro-Am during the 2018 Principal Charity Classic.

An avid golfer, he was playing for the first time in three weeks after traveling to Italy for a vacation with his wife (and Iowa native), Angela.

Ribeiro is best known for his role as Carlton Banks on the hit TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” He also won season 19 of “Dancing with the Stars” and hosts “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

RB: Have you been to Des Moines much?

AR: I’m mostly out of eastern Iowa, but I’ve been to Des Moines. Actually, many, many, many moons ago they used to have a car race here in the city through the streets and I came here for that maybe a couple decades back (the Ruan Greater Des Moines Grand Prix in 1993).

RB: Do you ever get asked where you wife is from and then you day, Swedesburg, Iowa, and they ask where that’s at?

AR: I pretty much never say Swedesburg because 90 percent of Iowans don’t even know where Swedesburg is. I just kind of go north of Mount Pleasant, south of Iowa City. It’s the easy answer, I think, for everybody concerned. Her grandmother started the Swedish American Museum there in Swedesburg, so it’s a really cute little town and it’s always nice to go back. It’s different from growing up in the Bronx, but I enjoy coming back.

RB: How does a guy from the Bronx take up golf, and how long until you took up the sport?

AR: I started playing at 18. Some friends of mine were like, ‘Hey, let’s go to the driving range and hit some golf balls.’ And I was like, ‘What’s that?’ I didn’t even know what golf was at that time. My first swing, I hit it straight over the fence at the driving range, and they couldn’t understand how I was able to do that. I don’t know how I was able to do it, either, but I fell in love and continued to play. Then in my 30s I got serious about it.

RB: You’re a brand ambassador for the PGA TOUR Champions. Why is it appealing to you to be connected with that tour?

AR: I’ll tell you, what I love about the PGA TOUR Champions is the history of the game in these players. The difference between these guys and the guys on the Tour is perspective. Before the Tiger (Woods) era, guys had to do a lot out there and they had to grind to make it to the next week. You had to make the cut. You weren’t automatically in the next week’s field. So these guys have such a great perspective and they have such a great connection with the fans, and that’s something that really rings true for me. I feel like it’s so important when you have the opportunity to really connect with the fans that are out there because that’s what keeps the game going. It’s what keeps your career going.

RB: It looks like you embrace fans on the golf course. Is that something you had to learn?

AR: Years ago, I had a very different perspective dealing with fans and I could never understand it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a greater perspective of their side and understanding the other side. You know, they might have one opportunity to meet someone that they enjoy watching on TV and why take that moment away from them? Why not give them that moment and allow them to enjoy it for the rest of their life and make a memory? It only takes a couple of seconds out of my time to do that. Why not?

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Q&A with Jay Haas, three-time Principal Charity Classic champion.

Jay Haas has won 18 times on the PGA TOUR Champions. Three of those victories have come at the Principal Charity Classic. Now he’s back for a 12th consecutive season. His competitive trips to Iowa have covered 47 years.

RB: You were medalist in the 1971 Western Junior at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. What do you remember about that event?

JH: I grew up in Southern Illinois (Belleville), so I drove up there. I remember a par-3 on the back nine, kind of a semi-island green (No. 13). When I came back years later to play in the Amana VIP, I felt like I was at home. I don’t even know what I shot (69-72). I won a couple of matches, then I lost. At that age, young players can’t believe they lose. I was one down going to the last hole, and had to hole a bunker shot to win. I didn’t. And I remember riding up that tram (to the 14th tee). I’d never done that before.

RB: Tom Purtzer finished second in the qualifying, and Craig Stadler and Fuzzy Zoeller were also in the field.

JH: The year I played? Seriously? I didn’t know any of those guys back then. Junior golf, and amateur golf, was much more regional then.

RB: Now you’re back in Iowa as your PGA TOUR Champions career winds down. How long do you plan to keep on playing?

JH: Somebody asked me that the other day (at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship). I was feeling good about things.  I had just shot 1 under (70). The next day I shot 3 over and missed the cut. I’ve had enough decent rounds this year to tease me enough to want to continue to do it.

RB: When do you think you’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye?

JH: I’ve always said that I don’t want to just be in a tournament to say I’m in a tournament playing on tour. Shooting 74, 75, 76, I don’t want a steady diet of that. I don’t love golf enough to do that.  I played a terrible tournament in Birmingham, Ala. (Regions Tradition).  I never play that course well. If somebody has said, ‘Sign here and you’re done,’ I probably would have signed. If I’m playing my best and shooting 74, 75, 76, and that’s the best I can do, I don’t want to do that.

But I was tied for the lead in Atlanta (Mitsubishi Electric Classic) with four holes to play. And I don’t think I was playing my best. If I play my best, I still think I can hang in there, and I love the competitive aspect of golf. I need the adrenaline rush now to do it. I can’t just go through the motions.

RB: But at some point, you’ll know.

JH: I’ll have a moment where I’ll just say, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ I want to give myself to the end of this year to see how it shakes out.

RB: You won three times at Glen Oaks Country Club (host course of the Principal Charity Classic from ’01-’04 and ’06-’12), but Wakonda Club must feel familiar to you in some ways.

JH: The course I grew up on, St. Clair Country Club (in St. Louis), was designed by the same guy (William Langford) who designed this course. The terrain is hilly there. Not as hilly as this. But I had to learn to play uphill, downhill and sidehill lies, which I think is great.

RB: You won the NCAA title in 1975 (playing for Wake Forest).  We had a guy from West Des Moines (Broc Everett of Augusta State) win it last week.

JH: A lefty. I watched it. His first college tournament win ever. Very cool. My son, Jay Junior, went to Augusta State.

RB: Do you get a bounce in your step every time you return to play in the Principal Charity Classic?

JH: Yes, great memories here. I’ve got a fraternity brother (from Wake Forest) who lives here. Jimmy Jenkins. He’s a member at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. I always have dinner with he and his wife (Pamela).

RB: You need to win about $17,213 this week to reach a million in earnings at the Principal Charity Classic. 

JH: Hopefully I win more than that.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Previewing the 2018 Principal Charity Classic.

Bernhard Langer is trying to stay ahead of Father Time and catch Hale Irwin.

Don’t count him out.

Langer recorded the 37th victory of his PGA TOUR Champions career at the Insperity Invitational last month. Irwin’s record of 45 victories, once considered untouchable, now seems within Langer’s grasp.

The two-time Masters champion, 60, returns to the Principal Charity Classic and Wakonda Club this week with a chance to get one step closer to Irwin’s milestone.

On the eve of last year’s Principal Charity Classic, Langer looked to be chasing an uphill dream. He had 32 victories at the time.

Asked if he had a chance to catch Irwin, Langer said, “I might have a shot but it’s very unlikely.”

But after getting himself in contention at Wakonda and ultimately finishing fourth in Des Moines, Langer caught fire. He won four more times in 2017, with three of those victories coming after he turned 60 on August 27.

In addition to his recent victory at the Insperity, Langer has lost in a pair of playoffs this season and also finished second to 2015 Principal Charity Classic champion Mark Calcavecchia at the 2018 Boca Raton Championship. Twelve of his 37 victories have come since 2016.

Langer’s first two appearances at Wakonda, however, didn’t suit his taste. He tied for 31st in 2013 and 48th in 2015. But his 66-71-67 effort in 2017 shows that he might have figured out Wakonda’s old-school challenges.

Langer enters tournament week second on the PGA TOUR Champions money list, with earnings of $860,321. He’s won more than $2 million in each of the last six seasons.

This year’s Principal Charity Classic will include 42 of the season’s top 50 money winners, including Jerry Kelly (No. 3), Gene Sauers (No. 7), 2016 Principal Charity Classic champion Scott McCarron (No. 8) and David Toms (No. 9).

In addition to Langer and Calcavecchia, 2018 tournament winners in town will include Kelly (Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualulai); Scott Parel (Diamond Resorts Invitational), and Steve Flesch (Mitsubishi Electric Classic).

Brandt Jobe, the defending Principal Charity Classic champion, also returns and will attempt to join Jay Haas as a repeat winner. In 2017, Jobe shot rounds of 67-66-69, including a birdie on the final hole of the final round. That enabled him to finish one shot in front of McCarron (67-70-66), his college roommate at UCLA, and eventual Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland (66-69-68).

Joining Jobe, McCarron and Calcavecchia as former Principal Charity Classic champions in the field are Russ Cochran (2013), Jay Haas (2007, 2008, 2012), and Tom Pernice, Jr. (2014).

Meanwhile, Langer will see if he can sneak a bit closer to history at Wakonda. The reigning PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year already created some buzz earlier this season.

When Langer won the Insperity Invitational last month, it marked the 12th consecutive season in which he’d won at least once PGA TOUR Champions event – an unprecedented feat.

Langer had shared that record with one other player who won at least one tournament for 11 consecutive seasons (1995-2005).

His name was Hale Irwin.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter