Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 1: The Price is (finally) right

Nick Price needed a victory to complete this Principal Charity Classic trifecta: win, place and show.

And he got it, winning the title at Glen Oaks by a record four shots.

“This was a big day for me,” said Price, a gentleman golfer who owns two PGA Championships and a British Open title. “I think if I had not finished it off, it would have left a psychological scar in me because I couldn’t have played any better than I did this week.”

Price had taken a one-shot lead into the final round of the 2008 Principal Charity Classic and finished third. He also took a one-shot lead into the final round in 2009 and was the first man eliminated from a sudden-death playoff with eventual winner Mark McNulty and Fred Funk. Price shared the lead with Tommy Armour III heading into the final round in 2010.

“I’d like to win, yeah, I really would,” Price said after opening with rounds of 67 and 65. “This is a good course to win on. Without getting ahead of myself, I felt pretty good about my chances this week when I got here.”

Price was coming off a fifth-place finish the week before at the Senior PGA Championship, when his ball-striking was superb and his putting average at best. But he played with some friends at his home course in Hobe Sound, Fla., two days before the first round of the Principal.

“I shot 64, and hit every short exactly how I wanted to,” Price said. “The only thing that would have gotten in my way this week was me.”

There was one ominous cloud hanging over Price as he teed off in Sunday’s final round. He had a 1-7 career record in PGA TOUR Champions events when leading or sharing the lead heading into the final round. That included an 0-2 record at Glen Oaks. Price was well aware of that dubious record.

“I didn’t want to go to sleep on the lead and have to answer questions next year about being in the lead after two rounds,” Price said.

Armour, who had been on top of the leaderboard since a first-round 63, opened the final round with 10 consecutive pars. And he found himself four shots behind Price, who had picked up birdies at Nos. 4, 6, 9 and 10.

“Nick got ahead, and I missed a couple of makeable putts,” Armour said.

It was a pressure-free march to victory for Price on the back nine. His first bogey of the day, and just the third of the tournament, didn’t come until the 17th hole. He still went to the final hole with a two-shot lead, and saw it double when Armour made double bogey.

Price closed with a 67 for a winning total of 14-under 199. Armour posted a 71. John Cook (66) and Loren Roberts (68) tied for third, five back.

For three days, Price hit 81 percent of the fairways, and 76 percent of the greens in regulation. He averaged 28.7 putts per round and found just one bunker in his three trips around the Tom Fazio design.

“Sometimes you question your desire, and whether you’ve got it,” Price said. “I was playing so poorly my first two years out here.”

He hadn’t played poorly at Glen Oaks. Just not quite good enough to win, despite a 68.0 scoring average per round in 2008 and 2009. All six rounds had been under par.

Price won $258,750 for his victory. More importantly, his closing record improved to 2-7. And he had added a win to his Principal place and show.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 2: Reversal of fortunes

On the eve of the final round of the 2011 Principal Charity Classic, Mark Calcavecchia made a prediction.

“I’ve played a lot of golf with Brooksie over the years,” Calcavecchia said. “He’ll be tough to beat.”

Calcavecchia was referring to Mark Brooks, the 1996 PGA champion and 2001 U.S. Open runner-up. Brooks shot 65-67 in the first two rounds at Glen Oaks, good for a one-shot lead over Calcavecchia. Bob Gilder and Peter Senior were another shot back.

“It’s a perfect course for him,” Calcavecchia said.

Brooks then went out and made Calcavecchia look clairvoyant … until the final two holes of Sunday’s final round.

Bryant had a four-shot lead over Gilder, the 2002 champion, with four holes remaining.  Gilder birdied the 15th and 16th holes to cut the deficit in half. But he entertained no thoughts of winning until Brooks hit his second shot in the water on the par-4 17th.

Brooks would go on to make an 8-footer for bogey to preserve a one-shot lead coming to the 18th.  Gilder hit his approach 30 feet past the hole. Brooks had 25 feet for birdie, and knew that if Gilder didn’t make his putt he’d have two putts for the victory.

But Gilder did make his putt.

“I didn’t want to run the thing four or five feet by, because it’s not an easy putt coming back,” Gilder said. “I was just trying to hit a putt that held its line, and get it started where I thought it was going to go. The putt looks like it wants to go left. But in years past the putt does not go left. So I putted it pretty darn straight. About 3 feet from the hole I just knew it was in.”

So now Brooks needed two putts to get in a sudden-death playoff. That didn’t happen, either. He knocked his first putt 5 feet past the hole, and missed the comebacker. And it was over.

“I’ve been leaving them short all week,” Brooks said. “I wasn’t trying to gun it by. I should have made the second one anyway.”

Gilder, 60 years old, became the second chapter in an amazing story. It marked the first time players at least 60 years of age had won on the PGA TOUR Champions in back-to-back weeks. Tom Watson had captured the Senior PGA Championship the week before at 61 years of age.

“I really expected to be going to a playoff,” said Gilder, one of two players to have multiple Principal Charity Classic trophies in his possession.

The other is Jay Haas, who has won this title three times. Gilder, who had struggled all season, was emotional in victory.

“This year has been kind of a disaster, until (Sunday),” Gilder said. “It’s been a long time. I’ve put in a lot of work. This week, things just kind of fell into place.”

Gilder shot a bogey-free 6-under-par 65 the final day, to go with rounds of 68 and 66.

That bogey-bogey finish led to a closing 68 for Brooks. And it wiped out what looked like a brilliant prediction by Calcavecchia.

“As you get older, you kind of wonder if you can do it again,” Gilder said.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 3: An International Duel

Principal is a global company. The 2009 Principal Charity Classic was a global duel.

At the end of regulation play, three men were left standing: Zimbabwe natives Mark McNulty and Nick Price and Maryland’s finest, Fred Funk.

The three had finished play tied at 10-under-par 203. McNulty and Funk shot closing 66s. Price, the second-round leader, posted a 68. All three got to the finish line in different ways.

McNulty birdied the 16th and 17th holes. Funk parred the final seven holes. Price drilled a 20-footer for birdie on the 18th green to make it a three-man playoff.

“I watched his reaction, saw his fist pump,” McNulty said. “Then I heard the roar. Life goes quicker than sound.”

McNulty would go on to win, on the fourth hole, sudden death. Funk was a hard-luck runner-up. Funk had a 20-footer for birdie lip out on the 17th hole of regulation. And that was just the first chapter in Funk’s three-chapter “What if?” story

All three players two-putted for par on the first playoff hole, the 18th. Funk? Lipped out his 25-footer for birdie and the win.

Back to the 18th hole they went. McNulty got a good break when his drive caught a small tree the right rough and kicked his ball into the middle of the fairway.

“You make your own luck in this game, and I got a good break,” McNulty said.

McNulty then hit his approach to 12 feet. Funk did it even better, putting his ball 8 feet from the cup. Price, whose drive left him an awkward sidehill lie just outside a bunker, hit a first-rate shot to get within 25 feet from the hole.

Price missed, McNulty and Funk didn’t. And the two men still standing went to No. 17 for the third extra hole.

Funk had a 15-footer for birdie and victory. Again, his ball caught a significant portion of the cup, but defied gravity and spun out.

“That was the ultimate horseshoe there,” Funk said.

They headed to the 18th where the marathon finally ended.

Facing a 30-foot birdie putt on a similar line to the two putts he’d faced on that green earlier in the playoff, McNulty made it this time for the victory. He pumped his fist once, twice, three times.  Three tries, one big make.

“One was a little shorter and one was a little longer, but it’s uncanny how close they were,” McNulty said.

Close, too, was Funk. Any one of his three putts that lipped out would have given him the $258,750 check that McNulty cashed.

“All three of them should have gone in, much less one of them,” Funk said.

This was one of three sudden-death playoffs in the history of the tournament, and the longest.

“How many holes was the playoff?” McNulty asked when it was over.

In the end, fans were rewarded with a riveting finish.

“We were playing some pretty high-quality golf,” Funk said. “Mark won it. None of us gave it away. I’m just glad we put on a quality golf show. Us old guys can still play.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 4: New name, popular winner

Three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin stood on the podium outside Principal’s campus and said thanks.

“On behalf of the Champions Tour, we thank each and every one of you for letting us come back into your home,” Irwin said.

Principal told the world at that August 7, 2006, news conference that it had agreed to replace Minneapolis-based Allianz Life Insurance of North America as title sponsor of the annual PGA TOUR Champions stop in Des Moines.

“We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the charity part of it,” former Principal chairman and CEO Barry Griswell said.

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Principal’s title sponsorship of the Principal Charity Classic, an event will have generated nearly $10 million for charity by the time the 2016 tournament closes its books. Iowa children’s charities – and golf fans – have been the biggest benefactors.

They’ve had the chance to witness players like Jay Haas, who won the first of his three Principal Charity Classic titles in 2007. This was a one-sided affair. Haas was a wire-to-wire winner.

Haas rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a first-round 65. That last birdie was the eighth one on his first-round scorecard. The 65 was one shot better than Dave Eichelberger, who won the 1999 U.S. Senior Open across town at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club.

An adventure-filled second-round 67 gave Haas a three-shot lead over David Edwards. Haas made a double bogey on the par-4 8th hole, but responded with six birdies over the next seven holes.

Haas took the lead into the final round for the 22nd time in his PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions career. He had closed the deal in 10 of the previous 21 opportunities.

He made that 11 of 22 after his final-round 69 and a 54-hole total of 201, 12 under par. Haas led by as many as six shots during the final round. He bogeyed the final two holes, but still finished three shots in front of R.W. Eaks and Brad Bryant.

“I was glad we ran out of holes at the end,” Haas said.

Those final bogeys were only a tease.

“You can’t chase Jay down right now because he is probably the best senior player in the world and he isn’t going to make any mistakes,” Eaks said.

It was pretty clear that everyone else was playing for second at the fourth green. Haas couldn’t put any spin on his ball after driving it through the fairway and into the rough. His second shot to the two-tiered green ended up on the upper shelf. The pin, on the lower shelf, was 25 feet away.

Haas faced the almost impossible task of two-putting his way out of the predicament, which was magnified because Edwards had a 4-footer for birdie.

Haas barely touched his first putt, which picked up speed as it got closer to the cup.

“Hit the hole,” Haas said.

It did. In fact, his ball hit the back of the cup with authority, popped up in the air and fell in for an unlikely birdie.

“I was totally shocked,” Haas said. “I thought it was going too hard to go in. It hit pretty much dead center. That was the only way for it to go in.”

Griswell also felt like a winner after Principal’s first year as title sponsor.

“This week has been terrific,” he said. “I try to think what we could have done differently, and I can’t think of anything. Great weather. Great crowds. Great players. A course in great shape. This has been a great community event.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 5, Bringing Home The Bacon

Pork is king in Iowa. Mark Calcavecchia was crowned king of the 2015 Principal Charity Classic. United forever. By bacon.

Wearing both bacon-inspired pants and belt, Calcavecchia snapped a 66-tournament dry spell on the PGA TOUR Champions with a final-round 69 and a 54-hole total of 12-under 204. Joe Durant and Brian Henninger finished a shot back.

“This came out of nowhere,” admitted Calcavecchia, who had tied for third the previous two years at Wakonda and had finished in the top 10 in five career Principal appearances.

The bacon apparel and a putter he bought in West Des Moines earlier in the week gave Calcavecchia’s victory a real Iowa flavor.

First, the clothing. Brooks Reynolds, founder of the wildly popular Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, sent Calcavecchia a photo of the bacon-designed pants four months before the tournament and asked the former British Open champion if he’d consider wearing them.

Calcavecchia called them the ugliest pants he’d ever seen. He also asked Reynolds to send him a pair.

Calcavecchia wore the slacks in the first and third rounds, and a bacon-inspired belt all three rounds.

Calcavecchia missed the cut at the Senior PGA Championship. He and his wife, Brenda, attended the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 and then came to Des Moines.

Calcavecchia, who grew up in Laurel, Neb., got a heavy dose of Central Iowa golf when he was in town. He played the Harvester in Rhodes, Des Moines Golf and Country Club and Glen Oaks in West Des Moines, as well as Wakonda.

He also found a putter during a visit to a local sporting goods store in West Des Moines. While Brenda went to purchase some energy bars and sports drinks, Calcavecchia headed for the golf section. One Ping putter fit his eye. He hit a few putts with it and bought it. It helped him win a first-place check for $262,500.

“Ping is fantastic about sending me putters and I’ve got 100 of them,” said Calcavechia, who has an endorsement deal with the company. “But sometimes you look at one and it just caught my eye.”

Calcavecchia started the final round with a one-shot lead over Durant. He never relinquished that lead, thought there were some serious challengers.

Durant held a share of the lead for awhile. And when Calcavecchia made his only final-round bogey at the tricky par-3 14th hole that enabled 2012 and 2016 Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III to catch him at 11 under. Love, a former PGA champion, got in position to win with four birdies in a five-hole stretch starting at No. 11. But he went bogey-double bogey on the 16th and 17th holes and tied for fifth.

Durant also rallied to get within a shot of the lead with birdies at 15 and 16, but couldn’t get over the hump.

“We were all trying to put some heat on him, but he made some good putts when he needed to and that’s what you do when you win,” Durant said.

Calcavecchia’s victory impressed Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who was at Wakonda for the final round wearing a Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival hat.

“He’s from Nebraska, that’s close enough for me,” Branstad said. “And he’s wearing bacon pants. We’re the leading pork producing state. We’re all for bacon. That’s great.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 6: Easy as 1-2-3

Last chance? No, but in the neighborhood.

Jay Haas came to the Principal Charity Classic in 2012 knowing that the window of opportunity was starting to close on his PGA TOUR Champions career.

“My successes have been fewer as I’ve gotten older, but I still feel like I’m capable,” Haas said after a second-round 65 at Glen Oaks gave him a three-shot lead heading into the final round.

It would have been a four-shot lead had former Masters champion Larry Mize not holed a 5-iron from 177 yards for an eagle-2 on the 18th hole.

“I would have been tickled to death with a three, much less a two,” Mize said.

That shot turned out to be no factor in the final result, because Haas was more than capable. He shot a final-round 66 and collected his third Principal Charity Classic title after tying the tournament record of 16 under par established by Gil Morgan in 2006.

“The older I get, I realize this isn’t going to go on forever,” Haas said. “I realize the window of opportunity is closing quickly. I don’t know if I put more pressure on myself because of it. But victories are sweet, and this one tastes pretty good.”

This was the 16th of Haas’ 17 PGA TOUR Champions career victories.

Haas also set a Principal Charity Classic record with his five-shot margin of victory. That erased Nick Price, who won by four shots in 2010, from the record book.

Both Mize and Tom Lehman, who started the final round four shots back, made it easy for Haas to protect his lead during the final round. Mize parred his first seven holes of the final round. Lehman parred his first eight.

Mize provided the only hint of drama when he birdied three straight holes, starting at No 8, to close within two shots. But Haas birdied the 11th hole and coasted to victory.

Even a tournament-record 62 by Kirk Triplett didn’t rattle the eventual winner. Triplett had started the final round in an 11-way tie for 22nd, nine shots back of Haas. He did end up in a tie for second with Mize at 11 under.

“Every time I made a mistake, I came up with a par or a birdie,” Triplett said. “All of a sudden it felt like if I could get a couple more I’d shake those leaders up.”

Triplett’s Sunday heroics led to a $140,000 check, but didn’t make Haas blink.

Lehman shot 68 and tied with Fred Funk for fourth, six shots back.

“I didn’t put any pressure on (Haas) at all,” Lehman said. “It was very frustrating. But Jay played great. He would have been tough to beat.”

With victory pretty much a forgone conclusion, Haas put an exclamation point on his day with three straight birdies, starting at the par-3 14th hole where his tee shot landed a foot from the cup and he coaxed home a 12-foot birdie putt.

“Probably the best shot I’ve hit in weeks, months,” Lehman said.

When it was over, Haas signed his scorecard and collected his third Principal Charity Classic trophy.

“I probably played as well as I have in a long time,” Haas said. “It was a special round.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 7, Chip-In Magic

Des Moines has a way of attracting longshots.

At the 1999 U.S. Senior Open, journeyman Ed Dougherty quickly became a fan favorite at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club when he contended for a career-altering title that slipped away.

A similar storyline developed at the 2014 Principal Charity Classic. Doug Garwood, a conditional PGA TOUR Champions member and another classic longshot, played the role of Dougherty for three days.

But in the end, it was Tom Pernice, Jr., who was the sole survivor. And the final nine holes at Wakonda had enough going on to make a drama queen jealous. Five different players held at least a share of the lead coming home.

Garwood started the final round with a one-shot lead after opening rounds of 68 and 65. Michael Allen was a shot back. Pernice and Mark Calcavecchia trailed by two.

Garwood’s lead ballooned to four shots when he birdied three of Wakonda’s first four holes. But he wasn’t the only player on a roll.

Bill Glasson, who had teed off two hours ahead of Garwood, tied Wakonda’s competitive course record with an 8-under-par 64, despite winds clocked at 15 mph and gusting to 25.

“You never think you’re going to shoot 64,” said Glasson, who finished at 11-under 205. “But I went out there with a pretty good attitude. You never know.”

That 11-under score looked like it might be good enough to win, or at least get in a playoff.  Three-time Principal Charity Classic winner Jay Haas also got to 11 under with a closing 67, which included a birdie at the 12th, an eagle at the 13th  and another birdie at the 18th.

Calcavecchia joined the group at 11 under after a closing 70, making birdie on the final two holes.

When the final threesome got to the par-3 17th hole, Pernice and Allen were 11 under. Garwood was one shot back. Pernice did himself no favors when he hit his tee shot 15 yards over the green. And then he chipped in for birdie and the outright lead.

“I pride myself in my short game,” Pernice said. “I went to my caddie Freddie (Burns) and said, ‘I might as well chip it in.’ And lo and behold, it went right in.”

After holing the shot, Pernice looked at Burns as if to say, “I told you so.”

Garwood stood over a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th, and knew he had to make it to have any chance. He did. And he carried that momentum over to the 18th green. Both Garwood and Allen had birdie putts on the final green. Allen just missed his, a 25-footer from the back fringe. But Garwood forced overtime by making his 8-footer.

The playoff started on the 18th, and both players parred. Garwood actually found a greenside bunker with his second shot, but blasted to tap-in range. Pernice missed a 25-foot birdie putt for the win, and they headed back to 18 tee for the second playoff hole.

Garwood ran out of magic. His second shot went over the green, while Pernice stuck his approach to eight feet. Garwood chipped to seven feet, but never got to attempt the putt because Pernice made his for the victory.

“I hit some key shots at key times that kept my day going,” Pernice said. “This is an old classic course. I liked it right from the get-go. I’m happy with how things turned out.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 8, Southpaw Celebration

The Wakonda Club has long been considered one of Iowa’s elite golf courses. It is an old-style classic, lined by century-old oak trees.

But history and tradition didn’t stand the test of time when the Principal Charity Classic moved from Glen Oaks to Wakonda in 2013. No, a first was established. The first left-handed winner in tournament history.

Russ Cochran battled a balky putter through the first two rounds, made an adjustment and won the Principal Charity Classic by one shot over Jay Don Blake. The threesome of Mark Calcavecchia, Kirk Triplett and second-round leader Duffy Waldorf shared third, a shot behind Blake. Waldorf played the final 11 holes without a birdie and closed with a 71. Calcavecchia and Triplett both shot 67.

Wakonda played solid defense all week. Not one player posted all three rounds in the 60s, the first time that had ever happened at the Principal Charity Classic. The scoring average of 72.625 was the second-highest in tournament history in relation to par. There were just 95 subpar rounds posted over three days of competition.

Cochran had opened with an even-par 71 that included 32 putts. He needed 27 putts in a second-round 67, and it was a struggle. Cochran said he was “fighting every inch of every foot of putt.”

Cochran made an adjustment in his stroke on the practice green after Saturday’s round. He went with a wider stance, which allowed him to have a smoother, lower takeaway.

“I’m proud of myself,” Cochran said. “I’m glad I pushed the right buttons.”

That smoother stroke led to 26 putts in a final-round 67. But Blake didn’t go away quietly.

After making bogeys on two of the first three holes, he got on a roll. Starting at No. 4, he birdied six of the next nine holes. It looked like it was going to be seven in a 10-hole stretch until Blake misfired from short range on No. 13.

“It was not even two feet,” Blake said. “I couldn’t feel comfortable with the putter. I just didn’t finish that strong.”

He had one final chance to catch Cochran, at the par-4 finishing hole. But Blake didn’t hit his 10-foot birdie putt firm enough.

“A ball out on the left,” Blake said. “I knew I could be aggressive with it. But I eased up on it, and didn’t hit it real solid.”

Blake, who had shot 66 in the second round, settled for a closing 69 to finish one shot back of his good friend. Blake and Cochran started going head-to-head decades earlier in mini-tour events.

“He’s an awesome putter,” Cochran said. “I felt like he was going to make that putt.”

But he didn’t, and Cochran had snapped his victory drought at 35 tournaments.

And it came at Wakonda, an old-style course that was mastered by the Principal Charity Classic’s first southpaw champion.

Cochran, who had battled wrist and rib injuries during that dry spell, was feeling pretty good when this one was over.

“You never know when you’re going to win again,” Cochran said.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 9, Double Dose of Haas

Jay Haas picked the perfect time to catch fire. It happened on the back nine at Glen Oaks Country Club, in the final round of the 2008 Principal Charity Classic.

“It seemed to happen so fast,” said Haas, who was chasing second-round leader Nick Price. “I didn’t have time to get conservative, because I was chasing.”

Haas shot a final-round 6-under-par 65, the lowest round of the tournament, to become the first and only player to successfully defend his Principal Charity Classic title. He also passed Bernhard Langer for the lead in the season money list and the Schwab Cup point standings.

Haas, collecting a winning check for $258,750, also won on back-to-back weeks. He came to town after winning the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., finishing a shot ahead of Langer.

“A month ago, I had a bunch of good finishes,” Haas said. “All of a sudden, I’ve had a great year.”

Haas finished the 54-hole championship at 10-under-par 203, one shot better than Andy Bean. Price, who had a three-putt bogey on the 18th green, was alone in third at 8 under par. He had started the final round at 6 under, one shot better than five players.

Haas and his fast finish started in unexpected fashion. His tee shot on the par-3 14th hole came to rest on the lower portion of the two-tiered green. The cup was on the upper tier, 48 feet away. He made the putt, which ignited his rally.

“That was the shot that got me over the hump, literally and figuratively,” Haas said.

He followed up that dramatic putt with birdies on the next two holes and posted a score that was unmatched.

Bean had a chance to catch him with a birdie at the par-4 18th, but he drove it in the right rough and ended up holing a downhill 27-footer for par.

“If there’s a good par, that was definitely it,” Bean said. “It was some consolation. But there’s a Jay Haas out there, and he played great.”

Price also had a chance to force a playoff with a closing birdie. But he left his uphill 26-footer four feet short.

“I’m standing there and I’m saying to myself, “I’ve got to give this a go,’ ” Price said. “And I leave it four feet short. I was so embarrassed. Everyone is waiting for you to make this putt and you leave it four feet short. I mean, it’s pitiful.”

Price then missed the four-footer for par, a stroke that cost him more than $27,000.

“I was so cross,” Price said. “Cross that I had left that first putt short. I mean, I was seething. It’s like bursting your bubble. After that, finishing second, third, 10th, it doesn’t matter. That sounds unprofessional, but that’s how I felt.”

The three-putt was Price’s only bogey in a final-round 69. Bean finished the tournament with 17 birdies over 54 holes, more than anyone else in the field. He was also the only player to shoot in the 60s all three rounds.

But Haas was just a little bit better, back-to-back better.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 10, Dr. Gil Morgan

The PGA TOUR Champions made its Des Moines debut in 2001. It was, shall we say, a stormy start.

The first-round leader was Dr. Gil Morgan, who shot an opening 65. The round took two days to complete – 16 holes on Friday, the last two on Saturday. The first round started four hours behind schedule because of severe weather, had two more suspensions and wasn’t completed until Saturday. Morgan was one of 51 players who had their opening round stretch over two days. And no fans were allowed on the course Friday because of those severe conditions.

Morgan would end up finishing second, two shots behind winner Jim Thorpe.  But Morgan has been No. 1 when it comes to longevity.

Now 69 years old, Morgan is the only player from that inaugural 78-player field who has played in all 15 Principal Charity Classics (note: prior to Principal becoming the event’s title sponsor in 2007, it was previously known as the Allianz Championship).

“Iowa has been kind of good to me,” Morgan said after finishing play in 2015.

Morgan won seven times on the PGA TOUR. He also has 26 victories on the PGA Champions Tour, over a 12-year span, including this championship in 2006. That was the 25th of his 26 wins as a senior.

He’s completed on three different courses at the Principal – Glen Oaks, Tournament Club of Iowa and the Wakonda Club. That’s 45 official rounds, and many more in pro-ams.

“We just keep going around, and around, and around,” Morgan said.

And that doesn’t include his appearance at the 1999 U.S. Senior Open at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club, where he tied for third.

Here are some statistics that put Morgan’s 15 Des Moines visits in perspective:

  • He’s broken par in at least one round every year. He broke par all three rounds when winning in 2006 (66-64-67) and tying for seventh in 2002 (69-66-70).
  • His all-time Principal Charity Classic stroke average is 70.3.
  • He’s posted 17 rounds in the 60s.
  • He’s broken par in 24 of 45 rounds.
  • He’s finished under par in eight of the 15 tournaments he’s played.
  • Three of his 161 career Top 10 PGA TOUR Champions finishes came in this event, all at Glen Oaks: his victory in 2006, his second-place finish in 2001 and his tie for seventh in 2002.
  • He’s earned $554,687.78 while playing in this tournament. That’s $36,979.19 per visit. It also comes out to $ 12,326.34 per round and $175.26 per shot.

“Sometimes I think I’ve got to be an idiot to keep doing this,” Morgan said. “Making these bogeys and hitting it in the water. Three-putting, all that stuff, works on your psyche. But as long as I feel like I’ve got somewhat of a chance to play well, I’m probably going to keep playing.”

Of course, all good things must come to an end. Morgan, who turns 70 in September, has played in just three PGA TOUR Champions events in 2016. And he’s not entered the Principal Charity Classic at last check.

If he doesn’t return, Morgan will leave behind a consistency of performance that will be hard to top.

“When I go home, the trophies are there,” Morgan said. “At the same time, it doesn’t have that big of an impact on me. I was lucky to be able to do that.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter