Parel Leads After Opening Round 63

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Scott Parel has spent much of his PGA Tour Champions career flying under the radar.

He didn’t arrive with a recognizable name from years on the PGA Tour, playing golf on the nation’s television sets. He took a long and winding road to success.

But he’s on top of the leaderboard after Friday’s first round of the Principal Charity Classic at the Wakonda Club.

Parel shot a 9-under-par 63 and takes a two-shot lead into the second round.

His name might not come with a buzz, but Parel’s golf game was elite on Friday. His 63 tied the lowest round shot in the tournament since it came to Wakonda in 2013. Billy Andrade shot a course-record 63 in the second round in 2016.

Chris DiMarco shot 65 and is alone in second. Andrade, who tied for second in 2016, is in third after a 66. Those three players are paired together for Saturday’s second round and will tee off at 12:55 p.m.

Parel said his lack of name recognition with the casual golf fan is not an issue.

“This tour is called the PGA Tour Champions for a reason,” Parel said. “I mean, most of the guys on this tour were champions on the PGA Tour. I’m just fortunate enough that they allow a few guys, that show they can play when they’re over 50, to be able to play with these guys. I’ve got no problem with nobody knowing who I am. As long as I play good golf, that’s all I care about.”

Parel was one of just three players to get around Wakonda without a bogey on his card. He needed just 23 putts, three fewer than anyone else in the field. 

“I putted great today, I really did,” Parel said. “I think I only had one putt that I think I should have made that I didn’t make. I made just about everything.”

Parel earned full-time status on the PGA Tour Champions the hard way. He played in 222 events on the Web.com Tour, winning once in 2013.

Parel got through Monday qualifying eight times in 2016 on the PGA Tour Champions after turning 50. That fall, he tied for first in the qualifier to earn status on the tour in 2017. 

He played well enough to maintain playing privileges in 2018, when he won twice at the Boeing Classic and Invesco QQQ Championship. 

Parel also tied for second , behind Tom Lehman, at last year’s Principal Charity Classic. Parel shot 67-66 and was disappointed when the final round was postponed due to inclement weather.

“You never know what’s going to happen the last day, but I would have liked to have the chance,” Parel said. “Obviously I like the golf course, so I’m looking forward to two more days.”

DiMarco, in his second year on the PGA Tour Champions, had nine birdies and two bogeys on his card. The 65 was the lowest round of his PGA Tour Champions career by three shots.

After nearly holing a 60-foot eagle putt on the 16thgreen, he made a birdie putt from the same distance on 17.

“You’re not trying to make that,” DiMarco said. “You’re just trying to give yourself an easy putt for par. I just happened to have the right line and it went right in the middle.”

Andrade jumped up the leaderboard with birdies on his last four holes. In addition to his tie for second in 2016, Andrade finished in a tie for 10thin 2015.

“I really enjoy this place,” he said. “It reminds me a lot of where I grew up in Rhode Island, the tree-lined fairways, up and down, a few blind shots here and there, tricky greens. I feel comfortable here. A lot of guys feel comfortable here. That’s why they keep coming back. It’s a course that fits my eye, I enjoy it and I’ve had some success here, but I haven’t won yet. Hopefully I’ll have my chance on Sunday.”

Seven players start the second round in a tie for fourth after shooting 67s. That group includes former British Open champion Darren Clarke, who came to town at odds with his putter.

Clarke shot 67 with a putter he bought earlier in the week at Golf Galaxy in West Des Moines. 

“None of them were really working last week at Oak Hill (Senior PGA Championship), so I decided I’d just go into the store and buy another one,” Clarke said. 

Clarke said that Jon Ward, the store manager recognized him.

“He came up to me and he said, “What are you doing here?” Clarke said. 

Mark Calcavecchia bought a putter from the same store and won the Principal title in 2015. He also wore bacon-designed pants in the final round.Asked if he’d wear bacon-inspired pants if it would help him in on Sunday, Clarke said, “I don’t know how far I’d go. I need to see them first.”


DiMarco in Hunt with Opening Round 65

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

It was an eight-foot birdie putt, with 10 inches of break, on the 18thgreen. The kind of putt that a struggling golfer, even one who makes his living at the game, often misses.

But Chris DiMarco drilled it, and followed it up with a fist pump usually reserved for the 18thgreen on a Sunday.

That putt gave DiMarco, who has been struggling mightily on the PGA Tour Champions this season, an opening 7-under-par 65 and put him the thick of the Principal Charity Classic title chase Friday at the Wakonda Club.

“It’s just been a struggle this year,” DiMarco said. “I finally made a lot of putts today. I made nine birdies and two bogeys, so it was fun. There’s probably five or six weeks this year where I haven’t made that many birdies in a week.”

DiMarco birdied six of the last seven holes on the back nine and heads into Saturday’s second round two shots behind leader Scott Parel.

This is the 15thPGA Tour Champions tournament of DiMarco’s career. He’s never finished better than a tie for 30th. His previous low round had been a 68. 

“Any kind of confidence breeds confidence,” DiMarco said. “To go out and shoot 65, I knew it was there. It’s just been hiding deep down. It was nice to kind of show its head.”

DiMarco is hardly a golfing neophyte. He was among the elite players on the PGA Tour a stretch, winning three times and finishing as a runner-up in a major championship three straight years.

He was on the short end of a three-way playoff at the 2004 PGA Championship, won by Vijay Singh at Whistling Straits. He lost a playoff to Tiger Woods at the Masters in 2005. And he finished second to Woods at the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool. 

DiMarco eventually fell out of the spotlight, and quit playing for more than four years while working for the Golf Channel and doing a radio show.

But he decided to give it another go as he turned 50 in 2018. And his old nemesis, Tiger Woods, has been his motivation.

“I was using Tiger as my role model,” DiMarco said. “Two years ago everybody counted Tiger out and wondered if he would ever play the game again,” DiMarco said.

Woods won the Tour Championship last fall, and the Masters in April.

Watching Woods return gave DiMarco fuel for a comeback of his own.

‘”I took four and a half years off from competitive golf,” DiMarco said. “The hardest part is getting your competitive edge back and feeling like you belong. Do I belong out here? Do I deserve to be out here? Yes. Do I feel like I can compete out here? You know, it’s been a struggle.”

Friday was a refreshing change of pace for DiMarco. 

“These guys are really good,” DiMarco said.  “I’m watching Scott McCarron and Bernhard Langer and these guys and how easy they make it look, and I know how that’s how I used to do it. I mean, a bad round was a 68. I’ve got to get back to that point. My bad rounds need to be a 71, not 76 or a 75.”


Chamblee Takes On New Challenge

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Golf has always been a part of Brandel Chamblee’s life, whether it’s been on the course or in front of a television camera.

Tragedy changed the direction of his career.

He had moderate success on the PGA Tour. Chamblee won the Greater Vancouver Open in 1998. He lost twice in playoffs and was a contender in several more tournaments, including a tie for second in the Quad City Classic in 1997. But his focus changed dramatically in the summer of 2000.

His second son, Braeden, was born two months early and died nine days later. 

Chamblee’s interest in golf’s grind went south, and he eventually lost his card in 2003. The competitive juices had dried up.

“I quit playing the tour for tragic reasons,” Chamblee said. “I lost a son. I just lost the ability, the motivation. I wanted to do something different that allowed me to be home. Having quit golf that way, I honestly didn’t miss it that much.”

Television was Chamblee’s landing spot. He went to work for the Golf Channel and is now the lead studio analyst.

“I’ve been so embroiled in television it’s almost like another life ago that I played professional golf,” Chamblee said. “My life is really about TV and studying the game.”

But Chamblee, 56, received a sponsor’s exemption into this week’s Principal Charity Classic. This is just the second PGA Tour Champions event of his career. He also played in last year’s Senior British Open.

Why the jump back into competitive golf? Chamblee gives Baily Mosier, who he married in late December 2016, the credit for that.

“My wife is a pretty good golfer,” Chamblee said. “She loves the game. Probably more than I do. We go out and play. She’s just been after me to try and see if I can get good again.”

So Chamblee will tee it up in Friday’s first round at 10:20 a.m. off No. 10 tee, seeing if he can find the right stuff again.

 I’m trying to challenge myself to do something that is completely out of my comfort zone,” Chamblee said. “Every now and then it’s good to scare yourself.”

Chamblee was also out of his comfort zone when his television career started.

“When I first got into TV, my earliest memories were being surrounded by people who said, “Sit like this, hold your hands this way, don’t hold them that way,’ ” Chamblee said. “I remember going on the air and thinking, “Am I supposed to say this or say that?’ You sort of get consumed by what these people tell you.”

Chamblee found out through experience that how you sit and what you say doesn’t matter if it resonates with the audience.

“I found four or five years later that you could say all the things they told you not to say, and sit in all the positions you were not supposed to sit in, and they’d turn around and tell you, “Great show,’ ” Chamblee said. “Why? Because you owned it. You were yourself, and you were confident.”

Chamblee has become a polarizing personality at the Golf Channel, gaining respect and criticism.

“I enjoy the work,” Chamblee said. “I enjoy studying players, trying to figure out why they do or not do well. Why do they not last? Who hits it long and hits is straight and lasts? That’s golf’s holy grail.”

Chamblee let’s the criticism roll off his back, whether it’s his recent spat with PGA champion Brooks Koepka or other issues that have come up in the past.

“I get attacked a lot on Twitter,” Chamblee said. “It doesn’t bother me at all. Everyone has a voice. I only care about a handful of people’s opinions in the world…my wife’s opinions, my kids, and a few people in the profession who I think are really bright. I don’t care about anyone else’s opinion.”

Chamblee, who builds his on-air commentary from hours of research, feels his job is to inform his viewers.

“I’m not speaking to tour players, I’m not trying to be their friends,” Chamblee said. “I don’t want to be their friends. I try not to take myself seriously. But I take my job seriously. I work at it.”

Chamblee has enjoyed his change of roles this week. He’s seeing guys he used to compete against when he played on the PGA Tour. Tuesday night, he and former PGA champ Mark Brooks were in Golf Headquarters in West Des Moines, changing the grips on their clubs side-by-side.

“I’ve known Mark since I was 14,” Chamblee said. “We played together at Texas.”

Chamblee’s goal this week is to give golf his best shot.

“My goal is to give this event my full attention,” Chamblee said. “I’m here to work on my body, my golf swing. I’m on a fact-finding mission. I want to see where I stack up. And then it’s back to work.”


McCarron Finds New Life on PGA TOUR Champions

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Scott McCarron is making the most of his second chance.

“I just have to pinch myself that I still get to play golf for a living, and do what I love to do at 53 years old,” McCarron said.

McCarron has become one of the elite players on the PGA Tour Champions, and it all started at Wakonda.

McCarron’s first PGA Tour Champions victory came in his 18thcareer start, the 2016 Principal Charity Classic. He’s won nine more tournaments since, and $7.6 million in earnings. Only Bernhard Langer, who has won 14 times and $9.7 million since 2016, has been more successful. 

“Sitting here now, the fact that I’ve won nine times since that one in 2016 is pretty amazing,” McCarron said. “But I’ve been looking at what Langer’s been doing over the years, he’s winning a bunch. I’m trying to win as many tournaments as I can, and put myself in position.”

McCarron birdied the final three holes at Wakonda in 2016 to win his first PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament since the 2001 BellSouth Classic.

“Any time you win a golf tournament, wherever you are, it always feels good coming back,” McCarron said. “And this one being my first win out on the PGA Tour Champions is very special.”

McCarron enters this week leading the 2019 Charles Schwab Cup points race. He’s won a tour-best $1,346,628, including titles at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship and Insperity Invitational. 

“It’s still really early in the season,” McCarron said. “We’ve got like 15 events left or something like that. Having the lead right now doesn’t mean too much, but I can keep increasing that lead and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Trying to predict who will have success on the PGA Tour Champions and who will struggle to find traction is an inexact science. 

McCarron, who won three times on the PGA Tour, was prepared to make noise as soon as he turned 50.

“One, I think you’ve got to stay in good shape,” McCarron said. “That’s a big key. You’ve got to come here ready to play. I went and played on the Web.com for a year and a half just to kind of keep ready, to keep my game in shape. You’ve got to come out ready to play. I think guys who maybe take three or four years off and don’t play  competitive golf have a tougher time transitioning to the PGA Tour Champions because these guys are good and they go low. I think you’ve got to be prepared and ready to go right from the start when you turn 50.”

McCarron also came to the PGA Tour Champions hungry to succeed.

“I think that I’ve had success because I’m hungry,” McCarron said. “I wanted to play well. I needed to play well. I had a decent career on the PGA Tour, but it wasn’t a career where I could rest on my laurels and go retire off into the sunset with a bunch of money.”

UCLA INVITATIONAL.McCarron tees off at 10:40 a.m. in Friday’s first round. He’s paired with some familiar faces in 2017 Principal Charity Classic winner Brandt Jobe and Ken Tanigawa, who won last week’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.  All three attended UCLA.

“I’m looking forward to that,” McCarron said. “We play every Tuesday together, Brandt, Kenny T. and I, and we have a great time. Brandt and I have known each other since 1983 and Kenny since 1985. We’re very comfortable with each other. I think it’s a great pairing.”

Tanigawa, the PGA Tour Champions rookie of the year last season, said after winning last week that playing every week with McCarron and Jobe helped his game.

“I enjoy Kenny’s company,” McCarron said. “He’s a great guy, and I’m really happy that he’s been successful out here. I believe he’s going to be one of the Top 10 players out here.”

Tanigawa is second to McCarron in the Schwab Cup race, and has won $863,168 this season.

Langer, who has won the Schwab Cup five times, is in third. Langer, who has been in Des Moines since Monday, was forced to withdraw from the Principal on Thursday. He had to leave to attend the funeral for his son’s father-in-law.

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?Tom Lehman won last year’s weather-shortened Principal Charity Classic title with rounds of 66-65. Sunday’s final round was postponed.

“Look, everybody loves to win, there’s no doubt about it,” Lehman said. “I would never trade in a victory for any reason or to win any way. However, it’s a hollow ending for everybody. For the fans, for the players, for the guys who are chasing.”

Lehman said that Wakonda will play easier than it usually does because of the wet conditions.

“Old-style golf courses are wonderfully quirky in a way,” Lehman said. “Like these fairways that have a lot of slope. So this week with the wet conditions, it’s going to make the course that much easier because the slopes in the fairway are not going to repel many tee shots the way they can sometimes. So when it gets soft here, the scores get better. When it gets firm here, the scores go up.”


Wakonda Club’s Rich Tradition

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

George Duncan was the first major professional champion to tee it up at Wakonda.

The 1920 British Open winner played in an exhibition at the newly-opened club on July 22, 1922. 

Ninety-seven years later, Duncan has had plenty of company. With 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke and 2001 and 2004 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen in the Principal Charity Classic field for the first time this week, the number of men’s major champions to play Wakonda has grown to 60.

 “That surprises me a lot,” said defending Principal champion and 1996 British Open king Tom Lehman. “Maybe it shouldn’t, because a lot of guys on this tour have won majors.”

The major championship list of players to tee it up at Wakonda reads like a Who’s Who of golf. The list includes Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Jimmy Demaret, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson.

Lehman is one of 11 former men’s major champions in the Principal Charity Classic field this week

Nineteen women’s major champions have also graced Wakonda. That includes players like Patty Berg, Nancy Lopez, Betsy Rawls, Jan Stephenson, Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

Those collective 79 major champions have won a combined 249 major titles.  

Wakonda has hosted a number of significant events, including two majors – the 1963 men’s U.S. Amateur and the 1956 women’s Western Open.  

Wakonda has been the site of numerous big men’s events, including the 1939 NCAA Championship, four Trans-Mississippi Amateurs, a Western Amateur and a Western Junior. On the women’s side, there have been two Western Opens and a Trans-Mississippi.

The Ruan/MS Charity Golf Exhibition brought a number of elite players to town on an annual basis from 1975 to 1996. And there have also been many exhibitions, including Duncan’s appearance in 1922, Hagen in 1922 and 1925, Sarazen in 1933, Trevino in 1933 and Hogan in 1946.

“I knew the history of the course,” said Brandel Chamblee, the lead analyst for the Golf Channel who is playing in the Principal Charity Classic this week on a sponsor’s exemption. “I knew Deane Beman won the U.S. Amateur in 1963. I knew the course was well respected.”

But Chamblee was surprised to learn that Duncan had played at Wakonda.

“George Duncan played here?” Chamblee said. “No kidding.”

The Scottish pro had won the 1920 British Open in dubious style. He opened with rounds of 80-80 and trailed Abe Mitchell by 13 shots. Duncan closed with rounds of 71-72 and won by two shots. Duncan remains the last player to win a major and shoot in the 80s.

Two years later, Mitchell was in Duncan’s foursome at Wakonda.  Joining them was James Hubbell of Des Moines, who had won the 1916 NCAA Championship at Oakmont.

Duncan shot a 75 that established a new course record.  Hagen matched it when he played Wakonda in an exhibition on Sept. 17, 1922.  Hagen had won the British Open that June, beating Duncan by a shot.

Hagen is one of 36 World Golf Hall of Famers who have played Wakonda. Three of those – Goosen, Stephenson and Peggy Kirk Bell, are in the Class of 2019. Hagen is also one of 43 Ryder Cup players that are part of Wakonda’s history, and one of 21 Ryder Cup captains. 

The Principal Charity Classic continues to enrich Wakonda’s legacy. . A total of 26 major champions have played Wakonda since the club started hosting the PGA Tour Champions event in 2013.


FIVE QUESTIONS WITH FRED HOIBERG

By Rick Brown, PCC Senior Reporter

The former Iowa State star and head basketball coach is now at Nebraska. He played with John Daly and diehard Husker fan Larry the Cable Guy at the Prairie Meadows Pro-Am Wednesday at Wakonda. Afterwards, he visited with Principal Charity Classic senior reporter Rick Brown.

RB:It’s been awhile since you’re played in the pro-am here, isn’t it?

FH:This is the fourth time I’ve played. The last time I was played I was with Mark O’Meara (2013) and I left after the 14thhole. I had to leave to get back for an official visit by DeAndre Kane. That turned out to be a pretty good day for the Cyclones.

RB:After the Chicago Bulls let for you (December of 2018), didn’t you get to spend some time with your family?

FH:I got to spent a lot of time with Jack (his son who plays at Michigan State) after I was let go. I spent a lot of time with Coach (Tom) Izzo, sitting around and talking basketball for two or three hours in the mornings.  The family time was awesome. I was able to see the twins (Charlie and Sam) play all their games. I got to get down to Kansas to see my daughter (Paige). She just graduated last week, which is scary to me. I’m proud of her, and looking forward to the next phase of her life.

RB:Did you have the itch to coach again when Nebraska wanted to talk to you about the job?

FH:It got to the point where I was ready to get back to work. Carol (his wife) was ready for me to get back to work, more importantly. I found a great situation in Nebraska. It’s great for our family, with all the history at the university and the state. My grandfather being the head coach for nine seasons, and my other grandfather being a professor there for 30 years. Both my parents graduated from Nebraska. My dad got his PHD there, then we moved to Ames when I was 2. Life kind of came full circle to get back there.

RB:Are you building the Nebraska program using the blueprint that worked for you at Iowa State?

FH:We’ve got our scholarships filled now. We signed 11 guys from the time we took over at Nebraska. I think we’ve got 2.1 points coming back from last year’s group. It’s a rebuild. But I’m excited about the guys we’ve got. We’re doing it similar to how we did it at Iowa State with five transfers. Three will sit out, and two will have an opportunity to play right away as graduate transfers. We’ve got some high school kids. We’ve got a player from France I’m excited about. It’s been a complete whirlwind the last seven or eight weeks.

RB:Did you enjoy today’s return to Iowa and the Principal Charity Classic?

FH:It was a fun day. A lot of money is being raised for kids’ charities. That’s what it’s all about.


Clarke Ready to Enjoy Time at PCC

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Darren Clarke has always enjoyed taking a big bite out of life. 

“I still try to enjoy myself, and I do enjoy myself,” Clarke said, with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. “People at home used to think I just played golf and went to the bar. But I worked really hard.”

Clarke, 50, a native of Northern Ireland, is in his first full season on the PGA Tour Champions and brought an impressive resume with him to this week’s Principal Charity Classic. 

He won 15 times on the European Tour and three times on the PGA Tour. He played on five Ryder Cup teams, and was captain of the European team in 2016. His victory in the 2011 Open Championship. his 54thcareer start in a major championship, was his marquee moment.

“I’ve sort of lived my life like a multiple major champion, anyway,” Clarke said. “I tend to enjoy myself.”

Being a rookie at 50 also brings a smile to Clarke’s face.

“Weird, isn’t it?” Clarke said. “It’s a bit strange. It’s great.”

Clarke is making his first appearance at the Principal Charity Classic. A man who cut his teeth on links golf has a new challenge this week. He’s taking a crash course on dealing with Wakonda’s rolling hills and tricky greens.

Clarke finished in a tie for 10th, 16thand second in his first three events this season on the PGA Tour Champions, but he’s struggled to get in contention in the weeks that have followed.

“I’ve got to putt a little better,” Clarke said.

Clarke is in Des Moines because he’s not lost his zest to compete.

“We’re all out here because we’re competitors,” Clarke said. “It’s a bit more relaxed. But as soon as the gun goes off Friday, the competitor comes out again.”

Clarke has found that the level of golf on the PGA Tour Champions is higher than the general public realizes.

“The scores are remarkable for the severity of the courses that we are playing,” Clarke said. “A lot of people think we’re playing courses at 6,800 yards long with flags in the middle of the greens and greens that are running at 10 on the stimpmeter. It’s a far cry from that. I’m getting more comfortable. I’ve got to do a lot of work on my putting and try to sharpen that up. It hasn’t been good enough.”

Two moments in Clarke’s career stand above the rest. The 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s is one of them. The 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Straffan, Ireland, is the other.

Clarke was playing in that 2006 Ryder Cup weeks after his wife, Heather, had passed away from breast cancer.  European captain Ian Woosnam selected him as an at-large member of the team.

“It was a very difficult and sad time in my life,” Clarke said. “But it was also a very positive time in my life because of the support I was given. It’s hard to put into words properly. Because my wife had just passed away. But she had said to me on her death bed, “If Woosie asks you to play, play.’ ”

Clarke did play, winning all three of his matches as the European team won, 18.5-9.5. 

“Looking back, to it, the support I received from the American team, the American fans and our home fans as well really helped me,” Clarke said.

His singles match, against Iowa native Zach Johnson, ended on the 16thgreen. Tears came to Clarke’s eyes when he shook hands with Johnson following his 3 and 2 victory. There was not a dry eye to be had.

“People go through that all the time,” Clarke said. “It just so happens mine was in the public eye. People lose wives to cancer, or husbands to cancer. It would be a lie if I told you I went into it without trepidation. But the support everyone gave me was incredible.”

Clarke’s 2011 Open Championship completed a lifelong dream.

“The party afterwards was a nice week as well,” Clarke said.

Darren’s career also includes victories on the South African Tour and Japan Tour. Now he finds himself playing in the middle of Iowa.

“When you think about getting around the country and getting around the world, we’re very fortunate as professional golfers,” Clarke said. “I’ve traveled and played in places around the world. No other job would have afforded me the pleasure of doing that. I’ve been introduced to different people, different cultures, different beers from all over the world.”


Lehman’s success the fruits of earlier struggles

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Fifteen players have won a tournament on the Web.com Tour, PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions during their careers. 

Defending Principal Charity Classic champion Tom Lehman is one of those 15. He’s also the only man to be named player of the year on all three tours.

Lehman struggled to get established on the PGA Tour, with a heavy dose of playing in Asia and the mini-tours. Those rocky times make him appreciate his success even more.

“I do think that having to fight and grind and go about it the hard way made finally being successful more enjoyable,” Lehman said. “No doubt. I would not change the early struggles for anything. I think that really helped me to learn the value of fighting for every single shot, no matter what the circumstance, no matter where I’m at in the tournament. To this day it matters to me even if I’m in 40thplace. I’d rather finish 35ththan 47th.”

Lehman’s competitive zest is a reflection of the tough times in his professional life.

“That just kind of comes from playing for no money on the mini-tour and overseas, where every shot mattered,” Lehman said. “That’s one of the great lessons, where golf in South Africa or Asia or the mini-tours or wherever around the world, really benefitted me, is that refusal to be okay with wasting shots. Now you do waste shots, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not because you’ve given up. It’s because you simply hit a bad shot, or made a bad chip, or made a bad read, or whatever. But it’s not because I just don’t care.”

Lehman won last season’s rain-shortenend event with rounds of 66-65. His 13-under-par 131 total was two shots better than Bernhard Langer, Scott Parel, Glen Day and Woody Austin. 

Lehman’s final hole of Saturday’s second round was also his only bogey of the tournament. He hit his approach to the 18thover the green and couldn’t get up-and-down. Lehman had a best-ball 61 for his two rounds.

“If you drive the ball well you’re going to be able to be more aggressive, for certain,” Lehman said. “So I think that really is the key to playing well, is to play the par-3s well and drive the ball in the fairway. That gives you the opportunity. Because if you have a good week with the irons, where you’re on, with those shorter irons mostly, you’re going to hit a lot of irons close and you’re probably going to make a few putts.”

LANGER’S IMPRESSIVE RESUME 

Langer’s PGA Tour Champions record has been nothing short of spectacular.

From his 39 victories to an unprecedented $27, 594,658 in earnings, Langer’s career is the envy of most. But of all his eye-popping statistics, the most impressive might be this fact.

Of the 27 events on the 2019 PGA Tour Champions schedule, Langer has won all but nine of them. The Principal Charity Classic is one of those nine.

Langer has had his chances at Wakonda. He finished fourth in 2017, shooting  66-71-67 to finish two shots behind Brandt Jobe. And he shot 64-69 in last season’s rain-shortened event which left him in a tie for second behind Tom Lehman. In four appearances at Wakonda, Langer has a 69.73 stroke average.

The two-time Masters champion has finished in the Top 15 in all eight appearances this season. A victory at the Oasis Championship was one of five Top 10s.

Langer has not played in two of the nine events he hasn’t won – the Mastercard Japan Championship and the Sanford International.

Langer has won the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race five times in his career, and is in contention for a sixth. He is currently third in the standings. 

Scott McCarron, the 2016 Principal Charity Classic champion, is leading the Schwab Cup this season. He’s won twice on the PGA Tour Champions this year, has seven Top 10s and won $1,346,628.

His former UCLA teammate Ken Tanigawa, who won the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill last week by a shot over McCarron, is second on the Schwab point list. Rounding out the top five, behind Langer, are Kirk Triplett and David Toms. 

The top five players, and 26 of the top 30 players on the Schwab Cup list, are in the field this week.


2019 PCC Boasts Strong Field

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Doug Habgood traveled to Biloxi, Miss., at the end of March to do some recruiting.

The tournament director of the Principal Charity Classic attended the Rapiscan Systems Classic, where he chatted up several players in an attempt to get them to come to Des Moines.

One of the players he reached out to was Vijay Singh. But Habgood’s pursuit of the World Golf Hall of Famer ended when he learned that Singh had committed to the Memorial on the PGA Tour, which is played opposite the Principal Charity Classic.

So Habgood got a pleasant surprise at 7:30 a.m. on May 25, the final day players could enter the Principal Charity Classic. Singh had changed his mind, and will make his Des Moines debut this week.

“That was great news,” Habgood said.

The 19thannual PGA Tour Champions stop has an impressive list of first-timers in the field.

Singh, who won 34 times on the PGA Tour, including the 2000 Masters and the 1998 and 2004 PGA Championship, and has added four victories on the PGA Tour Champions, won’t be the only major champion making his first stop in Des Moines. Also in the field is 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke and 2001 and 2004 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.

Those three will bring an international flavor to the field. Singh is from Fiji, Clarke from Northern Ireland and Goosen from South Africa.

“This tour is U.S.-heavy,” Habgood said. “So getting more and more foreign players, especially decorated foreign players, is big. Just look at all the other tours. But this one, you look at the flags and you see a lot of stars and stripes. Now we’re starting to get more of these guys that are well decorated and turning 50.”

The Principal Charity Classic has had two foreign winners – Mark McNulty of Zimbabwe in 2009 and Nick Price, also of Zimbabwe, in 2010.

Price, who won the 1992 and 1994 PGA Championship and the 1994 British Open, is one of three major champions who have won at the Principal.  That list includes defending champion Tom Lehman (1996 British Open) and 2015 winner Mark Calcavecchia (1989 British Open).

Brandel Chamblee, known best for his no-holds-barred analysis on the Golf Channel, and Gary Nicklaus, son of Jack Nicklaus, received exemptions and are two more new faces in the 78-player field.

“I think Gary Nicklaus is going to be a big hit here,” Habgood said. “And I think the timing with having Brandel Chamblee here couldn’t be better. Everyone has got Brandel on the mind. My interactions with him, he’s just a great guy. I think he’ll fit in well in the pro-am competition, the social settings, all those things.”

Joining Lehman and Calcavecchia as former champions in the field are Brandt Jobe (2017), Scott McCarron (2016), Tom Pernice, Jr. (2014), Russ Cochran (2013) and Jay Haas (2007, 2008, 2012).

Singh is one of four World Golf Hall of Famers in the field. That includes Goosen, who will be inducted June 10. Bernhard Langer, whose 39 PGA Tour Champions titles is second only to Hale Irwin’s record 45, and Sandy Lyle are the other two.

Ken Tanigawa, who won the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Sunday at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., is also in the field. Tanigawa finished one shot ahead of McCarron and two in front of defending champion Paul Broadhurst. Goosen was fourth. All four players will be at the Principal Charity Classic.

McCarron maintained his lead in the Charles Schwab Cup race for a fifth straight week and passed $1 million in earnings for the season. McCarron won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic and Insperity Invitational this season, with seven top five finishes overall.

“I love the field we’ve got,” Habgood said.  

That field will be playing for a sweetened purse, which was increased by $100,000 to $1.850 million. The winner will receive $277,500.

“Each player makes his own decisions,” Habgood said. “But whenever you can make an increase, I think they pay attention to those types of things. It may sway them one way or another, and that’s why we did it. It was definitely strategic. I think it keeps us in the upper echelon of the tour. And it gives some prestige to Principal and Wells Fargo and all the other sponsors.”


Tournament Director Doug Habgood Ready for 2019 PCC

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Doug Habgood has called a lot of places home. But he likes to tip his hat to his roots.

On the Friday before tournament week, Habgood was sporting a Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap. The 46-year-old tournament director of the Principal Charity Classic was born in Malvern, Pa. 

He graduated from the University of South Carolina.  He lived in Naples, Fla., West Palm Beach, Fla., and Greensboro, N.C., while working for the LPGA. Hired by Bruno Event Team in 2003, he spent 15 years in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo., before moving to Urbandale in August of 2018.

Married and the father of three daughters, Habgood has adjusted quickly to his new environment. 

“I’ve found the geography is a little more diverse than you would think at first,” Habgood said. “This golf course sort of proves my point.”

Habgood has helped with the Principal Charity Classic since it moved from Glen Oaks to the Wakonda Club in 2013. An old-style course with rolling fairways and elevation changes that defy Iowa’s flat agricultural stereotype, Wakonda has undergone some nips and tucks since the PGA Tour Champions started coming through the front gate on an annual basis.

“The first year was just short of mayhem, just working out all the kinks,” Habgood said.

Wakonda is landlocked by the city of Des Moines on all four sides, making for some logistical challenges for Habgood and his staff. 

“But I like where it is geographically for the city, and I like where it is geographically to the airport,” Habgood said. “So it’s kind of a nice package here. And I think we’ve kind of grown into it. If you look at how we set it up the first year, there’s probably not one thing that’s the same.  Everything has been tinkered with. And we’ll tinker with it next year.”

In his role as tournament director, idle chatter is missing from Habgood’s to-do list for the three months leading up to the Principal Charity Classic. This year’s challenge was magnified because an entirely new tournament staff had to be hired.

“As of March 1 we had two employees, where normally we’d have six, Habgood said. 

For the last three months, time management has been an essential part of Habgood’s daily routine.

“You look at the value of certain initiatives and think, “If I go down that path is it going to help the event?” he said. “How much time and effort is it going to take for me to get there? So you start to evaluate which ones you think are going to have the most return, and you stay away from the others. A lot of it is sort of working backwards. You know where you need to be at the end, and how do you get there?”

As organized and prepared as Habgood is for a tournament, he knows that even the perfect plan will need to be adjusted on the fly.

“You’d like to think, “Hey, we’ve got everything covered,’ ” he said. “But every time that phone rings, or you get an email or someone walks in that door, you have to react to it. I know how many meetings I have in a day. But I don’t know that the casual member is going to walk in here and ask me something about the menu in a skybox, which throws you off and you have to react.”

In other words, thinking on your feet is a big part of the job.

“Absolutely,” Habgood said. “And it’s how you react, and how you handle the volume. Because it can run over you for sure. You can only control so much. If you were to sit here and think about the whole thing, it would overwhelm you. It’s an inexact science.”

Between now and Sunday, when the winner accepts his trophy and the first-place check  for $277,500, Habgood will put out plenty of fires that the fans in attendance will know nothing about.

“I’ve go to deliver what’s on my list so that I’m backing up my teammates, because I need them to do the same thing,” Habgood said. “If I come up short I’ve let them down, and vice-versa. Otherwise you’d be overwhelmed and you wouldn’t be able to concentrate to get things done.”