Principal Charity Classic Named PGA TOUR Champions Tournament of the Year.

The PGA TOUR Champions has named the Principal Charity Classic as 2016 Tournament of the Year, presenting the annual Des Moines event with its coveted “President’s Award.” The PGA TOUR bestowed the honor Wednesday, December 7, during its annual meetings in Las Vegas.  Principal is the title sponsor of the Principal Charity Classic.

“We thank the PGA TOUR not only for this award, but for the opportunity over the last 10 years to sponsor an event that gives so much back to our community— especially our children,” said Beth Brady, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Principal®. “And, it’s very meaningful to receive this honor during global volunteer week, a time when many of our 15,000 employees around the world are themselves giving back in their communities.”

The President’s Award is the highest tournament honor awarded by the PGA TOUR Champions annually and recognizes overall excellence, as well as the intangibles that make a tournament stand out among many successful events. This year marks the first time the Principal Charity Classic has been chosen to receive the President’s Award.

“The Principal Charity Classic has left a significant charitable footprint as well as an estimated $23 million annual economic impact on the greater Des Moines region,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. “That matters to this state. It’s companies like Principal, as well as the volunteers, spectators and local businesses that step up every year, that make this tournament possible and keep our state moving forward.”

Principal celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its title sponsorship in 2016, which marked the tournament’s most successful year to date.

The 2016 Principal Charity Classic:

  • Attracted a record 83,389 spectators to Wakonda Club during 2016 tournament week.
  • Donated a record $2,053,725 to Iowa children’s charities, including six regional Tournament Charity Partners and more than 100 statewide charity organizations through the tournament’s Birdies For Charity program.
  • Inspired increased engagement, with the tournament’s record 2016 donation representing a 46% increase over the previous year; the Principal Charity Classic’s all-time charitable giving total now stands at nearly $10 million in 10 years.
  • Introduced the MidAmerican Energy “Green Canyon” on holes 16 and 17 at Wakonda Club as a fan enhancement, designed to provide continuous content via LED ribbon boards and ease of access to food, drink and merchandise.
  • And also finished as one of the top nominees for the PGA TOUR Champions 2016 “Players Award” as voted on by the Player Advisory Council.

Scott McCarron claimed his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory at the 2016 Principal Charity Classic with a one-shot victory over Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Billy Andrade. McCarron would go on to win the Dominion Charity Classic in November and add two runner-up finishes during the year to wind up at No. 4 in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings.

The 2017 Principal Charity Classic will be played June 6-11 at Wakonda Club in Des Moines. To purchase your tickets, click here.


Iowa Children’s Charities Get Record Donation from Principal Charity Classic

Great golf. Check. Beautiful weather. Check. Record attendance. Check. Record amount given to charity. Check (literally).

The Principal Charity Classic presented by Wells Fargo has announced its 2016 tournament raised $2,053,725 for Iowa children’s charities. That’s the biggest annual donation in Principal Charity Classic history. It brings the tournament’s charitable giving total to nearly $10 million in 10 years.

“This community decided a decade ago to put kids first and created a golf tournament to do just that,” said Dan Houston, chairman, president and CEO of Principal®. “Year after year it kept growing. And here we are today giving Iowa children’s charities a record amount of money to help their organizations serve kids. That’s powerful.”

This year’s tournament, held May 31-June 5, attracted a record 83,389 spectators to the Wakonda Club. Principal is celebrating its 10th Anniversary as title sponsor of the Principal Charity Classic in 2016. Wells Fargo also marks a decade as presenting sponsor.

The Principal Charity Classic annually draws some of the biggest names in golf to Des Moines, including this year’s champion, Scott McCarron. Legendary golfer John Daly was also part of the 2016 field in his first year of PGA TOUR Champions eligibility, along with fan favorites Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Jesper Parnevik, Jay Haas, Fred Funk, Kenny Perry, Fuzzy Zoeller, Rocco Mediate and 2015 Principal Charity Classic champion Mark Calcavecchia.

“The Principal Charity Classic features great golf and some of the game’s best players, but what truly makes this tournament special is our community,” said Greg Conrad, Tournament Director of the Principal Charity Classic. “Every volunteer, sponsor and charity partner actively participates in the tournament’s mission of supporting Iowa kids. And that does not go unnoticed by PGA TOUR Champions players, who continually tell us they are inspired to keep coming back – and giving back – to our community, too.”

Funds raised through the tournament support six Tournament Charity Partners in the Des Moines area, as well as more than 100 Iowa children’s charities in the region and across the entire state participating through the Birdies for Charity program. The six Tournament Charity Partners are Blank Children’s Hospital, Bravo Greater Des Moines, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Mercy Medical Center, the United Way of Central Iowa and Variety – the Children’s Charity of Iowa.

The 2017 Principal Charity Classic will take place June 6-11, 2017, at Wakonda Club, and Good-Any-One-Day tickets are available for purchase now by clicking here.


Rick Brown Review: 2016 Principal Charity Classic Was A Winner

Scott McCarron won the BellSouth Classic on April 2, 2001, in Duluth, Ga. Five months later, the PGA TOUR Champions came to Greater Des Moines for the first time.

A sweet 16 years later, the Principal Charity Classic welcomed McCarron as its latest champion Sunday at the Wakonda Club.

For McCarron, it was his first victory in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event since that 2001 victory in suburban Atlanta. That covers 287 tournaments, the last 17 on the PGA TOUR Champions.

Sixteen years is a long time to wait. It’s also a testimony to the success of this tournament, which was played before record crowds and seems to get better and better each year.

This year’s field played for a purse of $1,750,000, which is close to what this tournament will produce for charity.

The 2015 event set a record by generating $1.4 million for the tournament’s “FORE Our Kids” designated charities as well as the “Birdies for Charity” program.

Beth Brady, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Principal, expects the 2016 event to set a new record for charity dollars. That means this tournament will have raised nearly $10 million in the 10 years Principal has served as title sponsor.

A crowd of 31,612 came to the Wakonda Club for Sunday’s final round, bringing the three-day total to a record 83,389. Attendance records were also set for the first round (25,058) and second round (26,719).

Many of those fans hung out at the “MidAmerican Energy Green Canyon,” one of the new fan-friendly areas unveiled this year. The “Green Canyon” included the 16th green, the par-3 17th and the 18th tee. Grandstands circled the 17th green, with an LED ribbon board created by local company Insane Impact to keep those fans informed. The new Hornitos Hacienda – home to “birdie margaritas” – was a popular “Green Canyon” stop as well.

The 17th green turned out to be a pivotal spot in determining Sunday’s winner. That’s where McCarron holed a 36-foot downhill birdie putt to take the outright lead he’d never surrender.

Thirty-six feet? Are you sure it wasn’t 30 or 35? No, McCarron will tell you, it was 36.

“I’ve been stepping off putts since I was 10 years old,” McCarron said. “I had a chipping lesson from Bill Rogers (a former British Open champion) way back then and he always had me step off my putts. So when someone asks me how far it was, I usually know. It was 36 feet, going downhill.”

McCarron put the wraps on his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory with a stellar second shot from the right rough on No. 18 that stopped just inside 10 feet from the hole.

McCarron made three practice strokes from behind the ball, addressed that ball and stroked it into the cup. A fist pump followed after the ball disappeared.

“Yeah,” he hollered, with a clap of his hands, as he walked off the green. And then he had to wait for the final two threesomes to finish before he could accept the trophy and the first-place check of $262,500.

McCarron didn’t watch the final two groups play the 18th on purpose.

“Out here on the Champions Tour we root for everybody,” McCarron said. “All these guys are my friends. I don’t want anybody to hit a bad shot. So I don’t even want to know what’s going on. I just want to do my own thing, and see what happens.”

Several players in those final two groups shook McCarron’s hand and offered congratulations.  The long wait – 16 years long – was over.

And it ended with some incredible golf. McCarron shot 68-68-65. He played his last 47 holes without a bogey. In fact, he had just one bogey the entire tournament. And when he avoided a second bogey on the par-3 9th on Sunday, he got the feeling it was going to be his day.

“I buried it in the lip on No. 9 and had a very difficult shot,” McCarron said. “I got it just over the green. I made about a 13-footer for par. That’s kind of what really saved the round.”

Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Billy Andrade both birdied the 18th hole to finish in a tie for second, a shot behind McCarron. Andrade’s closing-hole birdie was his record 21st of the tournament, erasing the previous tournament mark of 20 set by Gil Morgan while winning in 2006. Andrade wasn’t as fortunate. Victory eluded him.

“You know what?” Andrade said. “Somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose, right?  But I’ll be back next year.”

That will be June 6-11, 2017, a week later than this year. Another year of planning to make one of the best stops on the PGA TOUR Champions even better.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


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


Welcome to the Principal Charity Classic

The MidAmerican Energy “Green Canyon” makes its Principal Charity Classic debut this week at Wakonda Club, and Senior Reporter Rick Brown has a preview of the new hot spot across Holes 16, 17 and 18, plus other can’t-miss locations and tournament storylines. Read on…the 2016 Principal Charity Classic is HERE!

The MidAmerican Energy “Green Canyon” makes its Principal Charity Classic debut this week at Wakonda Club. I recommend that fans who come to the course looking for a hot spot to watch some great golf make the short walk from the public entrance on Park Avenue to the Green Canyon, which starts by the green at the par-4 16th and circles the par-3 17th. Behind the 17th green, fans will find a wrap-around LED board providing a ton of information.

Food, drink and merchandise are all in close proximity. I promise, this will be a festive place to be. You’ll be able to watch play on the 16th and 17th, as well as the tee shots on 18. And never have to leave your seat.

A second prime spot is the Kum & Go Oasis, featuring the Fuzzy’s Vodka Lounge, to the right of the 13th green. Another short walk from the main entrance, fans will have a stellar vantage point to watch action on the 13th green, the par-3 14th and the green at No. 5. Another happening place.  You won’t be disappointed.

Those who come and enjoy the surroundings will see plenty of recognizable names on the golf course. And here’s a random thought: It would be a Principal Charity Classic dream pairing, really, Mark Calcavecchia and John Daly.

Both their names are on the Claret Jug, one of the most iconic trophies in golf, for winning the British Open. Daly also has a PGA Championship to his name. But something very important in Iowa brings them together. Pork in king in Iowa. High on the hog has double meaning in this state.

Calcavecchia won last year’s Principal Charity Classic title while wearing bacon-inspired slacks and a bacon belt. He promises to wear them again when the official competition starts on Friday. The folks at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival couldn’t be happier. Daly? He’s high on the Hogs. As in the Arkansas Razorbacks, his college team of choice. Why not put the two of them together?

Calcavecchia and Daly are two of the headliners that fans will want to check out this week. Calcavecchia will be trying to join Jay Haas as the only players to win the Principal title back-to-back.

Other former champions in the field are two-time champion Bob Gilder, Russ Cochran and Tom Pernice, Jr.

Seven players who have been to the winner’s circle this season will also be here. Woody Austin won the Tucson Conquistadores Classic and the Mitsubishi Classic titles, and teamed up with Michael Allen to win the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Jesper Parnevik, who won the Insperity Invitational, will be here. So will Miguel Ángel Jiménez, who won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic; Duffy Waldorf, who won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship; and Esteban Toledo, who won the Allianz Championship. And of course, Rocco Mediate, fresh off his 2016 Senior PGA Championship over the weekend.

For those who love the history of the game, there are former major champions Calcavecchia, Daly, Mark Brooks, Todd Hamilton, Tom Lehman, Sandy Lyle, Scott Simpson, Jeff Sluman, Bob Tway and Fuzzy Zoeller.

You want guys who have won majors while playing on the PGA TOUR Champions? We’ve got Jeff Maggert, Kenny Perry, Roger Chapman, Olin Browne, Fred Funk, Brad Bryant, Mark Wiebe, Loren Roberts, Cochran, Lehman, Mediate, Allen, Haas, Zoeller, David Frost, Mike Reid and Bobby Wadkins.

For the local angle there’s Jerry Smith from Oskaloosa, who won the Encompass Championship in 2015.

And when it comes to champions, let’s not forget title sponsor Principal. Principal is celebrating its 10th year as title sponsor. This annual PGA TOUR  Champions stop took a big step forward when the global company, located in downtown Des Moines, stepped up to the first tee in 2007.

Principal’s mantra, since that first press conference in the summer of 2006 announcing its title sponsorship, has been this: If the community supports this event, we’ll do our part.

It’s been a classic win-win relationship ever since. The Des Moines business community has followed Principal’s lead. Using golf as an avenue, Greater Des Moines has responded with more than $7.7 million in charity dollars. The tournament’s “Fore Our Kids” charities, as well as Birdies for Charity program participants, have used the money to enrich lives and plant the seeds to grow a better community in the future.

And if what I’m hearing is right, the record $1.4 million generated from the 2015 event will be broken this year.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


New kids on the block and hangin’ tough

There’s something to be said about being the new kid on the block. Even at 50 years old. That’s the beauty of being a PGA TOUR Champions rookie, writes Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter Rick Brown.

A 50th birthday cake includes a new tour. A new opportunity to play golf at a competitive level, against guys you went toe-to-toe with during your PGA TOUR days.

And events like the Principal Charity Classic constantly reinvent themselves. Each season provides fans an opportunity to see the next wave of eligible players. Last year, Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III made his first appearance. This year, the new headliners include John Daly and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

In the Principal Charity Classic’s 15-year history, there have been 309 different players in the field. The 2015 field included 14 new faces. There were 16 newcomers in 2014.

Daly isn’t the only multiple PGA TOUR winner or major champion playing in his first Principal Charity Classic next month. Todd Hamilton’s name is on the Claret Jug after winning the British Open in 2004, when he beat Ernie Els in a playoff. Earlier that year, Hamilton birdied the final two holes to edge Love by a shot at the Honda Classic. Craig Parry, a two-timer winner on the PGA TOUR, will also be here.

Eligible to play in 2017 will be David Toms (he turns 50 on Jan. 4, 2017) and Steve Stricker (Feb. 23).

That’s the reinvention I spoke of. But there’s always an exception to the rule.

Gil Morgan is the only player to tee it up in all 15 Principal events. He won the title in 2006 at Glen Oaks, the 24th of his 25 PGA TOUR Champions victories.

Morgan, who was this tournament’s first first-round leader back in 2001, turns 70 years old in August. And he’ll keep his Principal streak alive, too, committing to this event last week.

When the Principal Charity Classic made its debut at Glen Oaks in 2001, Daly was 10 years removed from his PGA Championship, and six years removed from his British Open crown. But his fifth and final victory on the PGA TOUR, the 2004 Buick Invitational, was three years in the future.

Daly got lost in the PGA TOUR shuffle in recent years, a card without a deck. He didn’t have a steady place to tee it up.

“It’s been pretty tough the last few years not knowing where I’m going to play and waiting by the phone on exemptions and stuff,” Daly said. “And now that I have a category here that I can play a few years and get a schedule going, it will be good for me.”

Jiménez has won three times on the PGA TOUR Champions so far, including this year’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic when he outdueled Scott Dunlap and Iowa native Jerry Smith over the final few holes. Jiménez also won the 2015 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and the 2014 Greater Gwinett Championship.

Daly and Jiménez will bring matching free spirits to the Principal Charity Classic.

Daly’s grip-it-and-rip-it style draws attention. So does Jiménez’s unique stretching routine.  And he is, as the late  Stuart Scott used to say on ESPN, cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Daly is expected to make the popularity meter work overtime when he arrives at the Wakonda Club.

“I hear people say, ‘John, you ought to be in the (World Golf Hall of Fame),’ stuff like that,” Daly said. “And I always tell people, ‘Look, I’m already in the Hall of Fame because I’ve got the greatest fans in the world. No matter what, through thick and thin, they’ve always stuck by me.’ ”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


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

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

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

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

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

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

RB: Are you superstitious?

MC: At times, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MC: For sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Miguel Ángel Jiménez Joins 2016 Principal Charity Classic Field

The Principal Charity Classic presented by Wells Fargo is pleased to announce decorated Spanish golfer Miguel Ángel Jiménez has committed to play in the upcoming 2016 Principal Charity Classic, the annual PGA TOUR Champions event held at historic Wakonda Club in Des Moines. This year’s tournament dates are May 31-June 5.

Jiménez, who shot an 8-under 64 yesterday at the 2016 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic to win his third career PGA TOUR Champions event, is often called “the most interesting man in golf.” Jiménez joins John Daly and defending tournament champion Mark Calcavecchia, as well as Jesper Parnevik, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Tom Pernice, Jr., and Fuzzy Zoeller among notable names who have already committed to play in the tournament.

Jiménez and his signature style – a red, curly ponytail, aviator shades and unique warm-up routine – are instantly recognizable on the course, as is his skill. Jiménez owns 21 career wins on the European Tour and has been a member of several victorious Ryder Cup teams. At age 50, he finished fourth in the 2014 Masters Tournament after tying the record for the lowest round score (66) by a player age 50 or older.

“We are thrilled Miguel Ángel Jiménez has committed to join us in Des Moines for the 2016 Principal Charity Classic,” said Greg Conrad, Principal Charity Classic Tournament Director. “Miguel is one of the great characters in the game and a terrific competitor, making him a favorite of golf fans around the world. His commitment to join us is a true reflection of the popularity of Des Moines, the Principal Charity Classic and the tournament’s philanthropic mission among PGA TOUR Champions players.”

This year Principal® is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of its title sponsorship of the Principal Charity Classic, which is focused on raising funds for Iowa children’s charities. The tournament has raised more than $7.7 million for charity in the past nine years – including a record $1.4 million last year.

CHIP IN FOR CHARITY

Principal Charity Classic tickets are available at www.principalcharityclassic.com, starting at just $20 for a Good-Any-One-Day ticket. Additionally, kids 15 and under may attend the tournament for FREE if accompanied by a ticketed adult. Complimentary admission is also provided for all active duty, retired and reserve military along with their dependents.

“We ask people to think about the Principal Charity Classic in terms of making a donation to help kids throughout the state,” Conrad said. “When you chip in for charity, tickets to the tournament are your receipt and your reward. We hope everyone will make a donation and then come out and join us for some fantastic golf and great community fun to tee off the summer.”

For more information about the Principal Charity Classic, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.principalcharityclassic.com.

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About the Principal Charity Classic

The Principal Charity Classic presented by Wells Fargo is an annual PGA TOUR Champions event focused on philanthropic giving. This premier golf event raises contributions for the tournament’s “FORE Our Kids” charities, including: 1) Tournament Charity Partners, select organizations that provide a broad level of support to children of Iowa in the areas of education and culture, financial security and stability, and/or health and wellness. These organizations are supported through net proceeds of the tournament; and 2) Birdies for Charity Partners, which includes more than 100 additional children’s charities across Iowa that receive support through individual pledges and contributions made prior to and during the tournament.

The 2016 Principal Charity Classic tournament will be played May 31-June 5 at Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information on the charities and the tournament, visit principalcharityclassic.com, or via Facebook or Twitter.

About Principal®

Principal helps people and companies around the world build, protect and advance their financial well-being through retirement, insurance and asset management solutions that fit their lives. Our employees are passionate about helping clients of all income and portfolio sizes achieve their goals – offering innovative ideas, investment expertise and real-life solutions to make financial progress possible. To find out more, visit us at principal.com.

About PGA TOUR Champions

PGA TOUR Champions is a membership organization of golfers age 50 and older, with the most recognizable and accomplished players in the game – including 34 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, which compete regularly in its events. PGA TOUR Champions is where Legends play, and is home to The Ultimate Clubhouse. Conceived in 1980 as the Senior PGA Tour, it started with just four events and purses totaling $475,000. The primary purpose of PGA TOUR Champions is to provide financial opportunities for its players, entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, protect the integrity of the game and generate significant charitable and economic impact in communities in which it plays. In 2016, the newly-introduced Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs will identify and recognize the Tour’s leading player via a season-long race for the Charles Schwab Cup. The Commissioner of the PGA TOUR is Tim Finchem. Greg McLaughlin is President of PGA TOUR Champions. The PGA TOUR’s website is pgatour.com, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Follow PGA TOUR Champions at facebook.com/PGATOURChampions and on Twitter @ChampionsTour.