Q&A with Mike Small.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

For Brandt Jobe, the Principal Charity Classic feels personal.

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

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

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

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

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

Reye’s Syndrome was the eventual diagnosis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Principal Charity Classic Advance Notes from PGA TOUR Champions

Click here to view Principal Charity Classic Advance Notes from PGA TOUR Champions

News & Notes: Monday, June 5

2017 Principal Charity Classic
News & Notes: Monday, June 5
Field changes.
The following players have withdrawn from the tournament field today: Fred CouplesD.A. Weibring and Larry NelsonCouples, who was planning to return to the Principal Charity Classic for the first time since 2010, has been battling a persistent back injury. The above three players have been replaced in the field by Bill GlassonTom Purtzer and Gary Hallberg. The field list can be viewed here.
Tournament week gets underway Tuesday.
On-course activity officially tees off tomorrow (Tuesday, June 6) with the BNY Mellon Pro-Am. This event is closed to the public. Also tomorrow, the final four spots in the Principal Charity Classic field of 78 will be determined by the tournament qualifier at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines.
Tournament opens to spectators on Wednesday.
The full pairings for the Prairie Meadows Pro-Am on Wednesday and the UnitedHealthcare Pro-Am on Thursday will be released at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Pairings and results will be available at principalcharityclassic.com.
Get tickets.
Tournament tickets start at just $20, and kids 15 and under get in free every day of tournament week when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Free admission is also provided for all active duty, retired and reserve military members and their families. Tickets may be purchased at the tournament gates or online at principalcharityclassic.com/tickets.