Birdies for Charity Spotlight: Pinky Swear Foundation

Mission: Helping kids with cancer and their families with financial and emotional support.


Cancer is not a one-day thing and it affects the whole family. One in four families with a child battling cancer report losing more than 40 percent of their annual household income as a result of treatment-related work disruption and one in 11 families will file for bankruptcy. Pinky Swear Foundation (PSF) eases these financial and emotional impacts experienced by children with cancer and their families by providing basic needs and support during a very challenging time.

The Principal Charity Classic Birdies for Charity program supports PSF’s Orange Envelope and All-Star Fund programs. The Orange Envelope program mails packages to children shortly after they are diagnosed with cancer. The envelope contains a letter letting them know they are not alone, a guide to other available resources for the family, and a Visa gift card to cover immediate financial needs. Through the All-Star Fund program, PSF provides direct payments to lenders and families to cover mortgage/rent payments, auto payments, utilities, and gas and groceries so families can focus on what’s most important – their child’s health.

Birdies for Charity funding allows PSF to mail Orange Envelopes to 10 Iowa families and distribute All-Star Fund grants to 15 Iowa families who are facing significant financial hardship.

To illustrate the impact of the matching funds, we’d like to share an All-Star Fund recipient’s story:

“In July 2018, my son, James, (pictured above) was diagnosed with Bilateral Wilms Tumor (cancer in both kidneys). James was just 16 months old. Over the course of nine months, James endured 24 rounds of chemotherapy and a major surgery that removed his entire right kidney and portions of his left kidney. Pinky Swear Foundation helped our family during such an incredibly difficult time in our lives. They provided our family with financial assistance when our HVAC system failed just two weeks after James was diagnosed with cancer, paid our mortgage when we were overwhelmed with medical debt, and provided our family with a weekend getaway at the end of James’ treatment so we could reconnect and celebrate together as a family.” – MaryBeth Meyer, Windsor Heights, IA

The matching funds provided by Birdies for Charity will help ease the financial and emotional burden for many more Iowa families just like James’ as they navigate a pediatric cancer diagnosis and treatment.

To learn more about Pinky Swear Foundation, visit

Another record-setting year. We raised $6.7 million for Iowa kids.

The Principal Charity Classic, presented by Wells Fargo, today announced its 2020 tournament raised a record $6.7 million in support of Iowa kids.

Despite being canceled due to COVID-19, sustained support from thousands of fans, sponsors, volunteers and charity partners helped the 2020 fundraising effort to top last year’s record by more than $1 million. In total, the Principal Charity Classic has raised more than $30 million since Principal signed on as title sponsor in 2007.

“It is an incredible testament to the resilience and generosity of our community that we have once again raised the bar for this event,” said Dan Houston, chairman, president and CEO of Principal®. “I am extremely grateful to charity partners, sponsors, ticket holders, volunteers, and players for their unwavering support and making a difference in the lives of Iowa children.”

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Next year’s Principal Charity Classic is scheduled for June 1-6, 2021 at the Wakonda Club.

Official Press Release

KCCI (CBS 8) Principal Charity Classic Rescheduled


Officials with the Principal Charity Classic announced Monday that the 2020 event has been rescheduled due to coronavirus concerns.

Originally set for May 26-31, the annual PGA TOUR Champions tournament will now be held September 1-6 at Wakonda Club in Des Moines.

Officials said all tickets purchased to this point will be honored for the new date.

“Iowans have remarkable strength in unifying toward a common cause,” said Dan Houston, Chairman, President and CEO of Principal. “Right now, our collective efforts are focused on immediate response to the current crisis. But when we get through this – and I know we will — we look forward to joining together, once again, at the Principal Charity Classic for great golf in support of Iowa children’s charities.”

The Principal Charity Classic has raised more than $23 million for Iowa children’s charities during that time, benefitting more than 130,000 kids each year.

Full Story here

It’s still great golf for a great cause. It’s just happening a little later than usual this year.

The Principal Charity Classic, presented by Wells Fargo, has been rescheduled to September 1-6, 2020 at Wakonda Club in Des Moines.

The health and well-being of our participants and the community were top of mind as we established this new date. All tickets, volunteer registrations, and sponsorships for the original dates (May 26-31) remain valid for the rescheduled dates of September 1-6.

We remain committed to our philanthropic mission because together we help more than 130,000 Iowa kids each year. Take a moment to hear from Dan Houston, CEO of Principal®, on this signature event for the community. 

We will see you in September. Until then, stay safe and be well.

Official Press Release

Sun Shines Down on PCC

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

It’s as if Mother Nature was saying, “Sorry, we owed you one.”
Payback was a beautiful thing Sunday, when perfect weather put a sunny bow around the 2019 Principal Charity Classic at the Wakonda Club.

“They did owe us,” tournament director Doug Habgood said. “And they’re paying us back.”

A year after inclement weather wiped out the final round, Kevin Sutherland was crowned champion on a chamber of commerce day.

“It was disappointing a year ago to lose the final day,” said Dan Houston, chairman, president and CEO of Principal Financial Group, the tournament’s title sponsor for a 13thyear. “It was somewhat anticlimactic relative to all the other great finishes we’ve had.”

This week didn’t get off to a great start. Heavy rain washed out Tuesday’s pro-am and shortened Wednesday and Thursday pro-ams to 10 holes, with no carts allowed.

Wakonda superintendent John Temme and his staff did an incredible job getting the course in tournament-ready condition for the start of official play on Friday. Some of the mowing was done with push mowers because the turf was so saturated. Other area clubs pitched in to help.

“I never thought the players would be raving about the course,” Habgood said. “It really played amazingly well.”

Aaron Krueger, Wakonda’s director of golf, stood outside the pro shop Sunday, looking at something he didn’t expect to see earlier in the week – a pristine course that was starting to play firm and fast. A north wind the last two days helped dry the sponge that Wakonda had been.

“It does seem like a dream,” Krueger said.

Sutherland won’t be the only one leaving town with a nice check. Thousands of children will benefit from the charity dollars this tournament produces. A record $4,356,321 was raised last year. Houston predicts that a new record will be set this year. More than $17.7 million has been raised for children’s charities since Principal Financial Group took over as title sponsor in 2007

The money benefits the tournament’s six charity partners – Blank Children’s Hospital; Bravo Greater Des Moines; the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines;  MercyOne; United Way of Central Iowa; and Variety, the Children’s Charity.

Dollars raised by the highly successful Birdies for Charity program also touch many more youngsters in the Greater Des Moines area.

The Principal Charity Classic has clearly become a community event. Some 350 sponsors – more than any other PGA Tour Champions event – and 1,200 volunteers help make this a tournament that is the envy of many PGA Tour Champions stops.

“I just think there’s a lot of energy on the part of volunteers and the small and medium-sized businesses,” Houston said. 

Among those taking notice was Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player who is now lead analyst at Golf Channel. Chamblee, who was in the field this year on a sponsor’s exemption, was impressed with what he saw.

“It’s a win-win,” Chamblee said. “Principal has gotten the community involved. I don’t know how they did it. Every community is trying to do that.”

Houston said that the tournament’s mission of helping kids is one reason the community has joined forces with Principal to make this a first-class event.

“I think it has everything to do with that,” Houston said. “This year we’re knocking on the door of $5 million dollars (for charity).”

Habgood had a different twist on youth.

“We’ve had great crowds,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of kids out here. I’ve noticed the younger demographic keeps growing, which keeps the health of this event strong.”

There’s one more story that offers a glimpse of why the Principal Charity Classic marches on as a community event.

“The pro-am conditions were difficult,” Houston said. “They only got to play 10 holes and there were no carts. And there was not one complaint. Not a single one. Because people understand the real purpose of the tournament.”

Sutherland Roars to Playoff Win Over Parel

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Kevin Sutherland was a portrait of shock and surprise as he stood on Wakonda’s 18thgreen Sunday afternoon. 

Eight shots back when the final round started, Sutherland turned in the third-largest comeback in PGA Tour Champions history to win the Principal Charity Classic in a playoff over Scott Parel. Sutherland made a 10-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole for the third, and most unlikely, victory of his career.

“Usually when you win you feel like you had a chance,” Sutherland said. “I kind of came out of nowhere.”

Sutherland set a Wakonda course record and tied the tournament record with 10-under-par 62 Sunday. That included a record 8-under 28 the closing nine that enabled him catch Parel, who was trying to become the third player to win this tournament wire-to-wire.

Sutherland beat Parel in a seven-hole sudden-death playoff earlier this season at the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Biloxi, Miss.

“I feel bad for Scott,” Sutherland said. “He led the tournament from start to finish. He played fantastic. He deserved to win the tournament as much as anybody. I just happened to be the one that won.”

Sutherland and Parel, who had a five-shot lead on the field heading into play Sunday, tied at 17-under 199. That was a tournament record.  Parel, trying to become the third wire-to-wire winner in the Principal’s 19-year history, closed with a 70.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Parel, who  tied for second here last year. “I should have never been in a playoff to begin with. He played great, but I had too many chances. I just didn’t do it today.”

Sutherland has a reputation for going low. The 62 he shot at Wakonda, which matched the 9-under 62 Kirk Triplett shot in the final round of the 2012 championship played at Glen Oaks, was just the third-lowest round of his PGA Tour Champions career.

Sutherland is the only player on this tour  to break 60. He shot 59 in the second round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in 2014. He also shot a 60 in the second round of the 2018 Boeing Classic.  Sutherland didn’t win either of those tournaments.

Sutherland has now broken 30 on four occasions on the PGA Tour Champions – two 28s and two 29s. He’s shot 62 or better five times. Sunday’s 62 was his career low for a final round.

 “I think I get greedy,” Sutherland said. “When I get going, I want to do more. I get excited to get to the next hole, because I think there’s another birdie coming. I’m not sure what else it could be. It’s a nice thing to have.”

Sutherland opened with a 72, good for a tie for 46thand nine shots back of Parel. Sutherland was eight shots back of Parel, in a tie for ninth, when he teed off Sunday. 

Sutherland teed off in anonymity, too, as all eyes were on Parel, the only player in the field who didn’t make a bogey the first two rounds. 

Parel’s five-shot lead started to shrink after he bogeyed the par-3 second hole. Jerry Kelly made the first serious run at the lead, getting within two shots on the front nine. Kelly had two golden opportunities to get closer, but didn’t get up-and-down from a greenside bunker for a birdie on the par-5 8thhole. He also missed a five-foot birdie putt on No. 9.

Parel took a three-shot lead to the back nine, and was still three up walking to the par-5 15th. By then, Sutherland had caught fire. Sutherland got to 15 under with birdies on the first six holes of the back nine. That’s when the thought of winning first entered his mind.

“I never even thought I had a chance to win until I got to 15,” Sutherland said. 

Parel, playing two pairings in from of Sutherland, opened the door when he sliced his tee shot on the 15thand ended up in the right rough on No. 16. 

“My foot slipped a little bit on the tee shot, then I think I hit the tree and it went farther right,” Parel said. “It was in a bad spot over there.’

Parel scrambled to make a bogey, dropping to 17 under. Sutherland’s birdie streak ended with he missed a 5-foot putt on the 16th.

“To make that one and shoot 9 under on the back would have been something special,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on No. 17, and caught Parel with a 10-foot birdie on the 18thgreen.

Parel missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, and he and Sutherland returned to the 18thtee to start the playoff.  It was almost a threesome.

Kelly hit his second shot at 18 a foot from the cup. He dropped to his knees when his ball danced around the cup and didn’t go in. Kelly shot a final-round 66 and finished one shot back.

On Saturday, it was Kelly who predicted a 10-under round would be out there on Sunday. Sutherland made him look like a soothsayer.

Parel had another chance for victory on the first playoff hole, but left his 10-footer for birdie short. They returned to the 18thhole to continue the playoff. After Parel missed a 12-footer for birdie, Sutherland made a putt that was almost identical to the one he made at the end of regulation.

“It was similar, so I really felt optimistic about the result,” Sutherland said. “I hit almost the same exact putt. I kind of left it out to the right a hair. But for some reason, it just kind of hangs on there and falls in.”

Parel Holds Five-Shot Lead Entering Sunday

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Scott Parel has averaged 65.5 shots over his last four competitive rounds at the Wakonda Club.

Add the fact that he enters Sunday’s final round of the Principal Charity Classic with a five-shot lead, and Parel is clearly the man to beat.

“There’s a 10-under-par (round) out there,” said Jerry Kelly, who is tied for second with Marco Dawson. 

But Kelly is also a realist.

“(Parel’s) playing great and he’s a bomber, so he’s got short stuff into all the par-5s,” Kelly said. “But it’s possible.”

Parel’s 15-under-par total, on rounds of 63-66, is a tournament record for the 19-year PGA Tour Champions event. The previous mark was 13 under par, set by Tom Lehman last year. The lowest winning score since the tournament moved to Wakonda in 2013 is 15 under by Scott McCarron in 2016.

Lehman won last year’s title without hitting a Sunday shot when inclement weather forced postponement of the final round. Parel, who had shot 67-66, tied for second.

Parel was disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to chase Lehman. Now he’s the one that everyone will be chasing on Sunday.

“I don’t know about redemption,” said Parel, who won twice on the PGA Tour Champions last season and lost in a seven-hole playoff to Kevin Sutherland this year at the Rapiscan Systems Classic. “I mean, every week’s different. I like this golf course, and I seem to play pretty well here.”

Parel knows his name isn’t on the first-place check for $277,500 quite yet.

“I’ve played with these guys enough to know that somebody  back there is probably going to shoot 7 or 9 under somewhere. I think we’re going to have even nicer conditions (Sunday). So there’s no let up. Pars are generally not good. I doubt that 15 under’s going to win this golf tournament.”

Two other factors weigh in Parel’s favor. He’s the only player in the 78-player field to get around Wakonda without a bogey in the first two rounds.

And only once in 36 holes has Parel had a number higher than 4 on his scorecard. That came at the par-5 13th, where he three-putted for par Saturday.

“I wish I hadn’t three-putted that one,” Parel said.

Kelly, who has won three times on both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions during his career, also played bogey-free golf  on Saturday while posting a second consecutive 67.  Kelly tied for sixth in last year’s Principal Charity Classic.

Dawson, who won two PGA Tour Champions tournaments in 2015 and has four Top 10s this season, including a runner-up finish at the Oasis Championship, had a rollercoaster round of 65. 

Dawson’s scorecard included three bogeys, six pars, eight birdies and an eagle at the par-5 5thhole. Dawson faces an uphill climb in Sunday’s final round, but he won’t change his strategy on the first tee.

“I don’t think so, in the beginning,” Dawson said. “You don’t have any control over his game, he doesn’t have control over your game. So if he plays great, great. You just go out and play the best you can, and stick with what got you there.”

Gene Sauers, David Toms and Billy Andrade will start the final round in a tie for fourth, six shots back. Sauers birdied six straight holes starting at No. 11 and shot a second-round 68. Toms, a major champion on both the PGA Tour (2001 PGA Championship) and PGA Tour Champions (2018 U.S. Senior Open), shot 68. Andrade, who tied for second here in 2016, shot 69.

Parel first tried to get into the Principal Charity Classic through Monday qualifying in 2015 after he turned 50. He was playing on the Tour at the time, and had become friends with former Iowa State star Chris Baker.

The qualifier was held at Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City. Parel told Baker he wouldn’t have time to get in a practice round, and asked his friend if the course was one that needed some local knowledge to succeed at.

“He said, “Oh, no, you can play Tournament Club of Iowa blind, it’s right in front of you,’ ” Parel recalled. “Three of the first five holes, I didn’t have any idea what was going on. So I gave it to him pretty good the next time I saw him.”

Parel didn’t get through the qualifier. He wrote former tournament director Greg Conrad asking for a sponsor’s exemption in 2016, but didn’t get one. While Parel was back at TCI preparing for another qualifier in 2017, someone dropped out of the field and Conrad offered him the spot.

Parel tied for 37thin 2016, and tied for 40thin 2017. But he’s had much more success the past two years.

As fate would have it, Baker heads into Sunday with a four-shot lead in the Tour event in Wichita, Kan.

“Chris is a good guy, and he’s got a lot of game,” Parel said. “He’s due to win out there.”

All signs point to Parel winning on Sunday, too.

“You know, I’m living the dream here,” Parel said. “This is a pretty good spot to be in. Win, lose or draw, it’s fantastic to get to play with these guys and play for a living, so I’ve got no reason to be upset about anything one way or another.”

Goosen Entering Hall of Fame After PCC

By RICK BROWN, PCC Senior Reporter

Retief Goosen has had more than golf on his mind in recent weeks.

He will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on June 10 at Pebble Beach, Calif.

“Obviously I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time,” said the two-time U.S. Open champion, who is making his first appearance in the Principal Charity Classic this week. 

Goosen got the news on his induction in October, in a phone call from Gary Player.

“We’ve got everything worked out now,” Goosen said. “People from all over the world are coming (to the ceremony). Next week is for catching up with friends in San Francisco for five days, then we’ll go down to Pebble and do all the stuff there. Once that is over, it will be back to concentrating on golf.”

Goosen has won 33 tournaments worldwide, including U.S. Opens at Southern Hills in 2001 and Shinnecock Hills in 2004.  He won seven times on the PGA Tour, 12 times on the European Tour, eight times on the Southern Africa Tour and three times on the Asian PGA.

Now 50 years old, Goosen became eligible for the PGA Tour Champions in February. He made his debut at the Oasis Championship, and is playing in his ninth PGA Tour Champions event this week. 

Goosen is coming off a career-best fourth-place finish last week at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill.  He also tied for second in the Chubb Classic in his second tournament, but has struggled with his wedge play in his new surroundings.

“I’m just not good enough to play on the other tour any more,” said Goosen, who has shot 71-69 in his first two trips around the Wakonda Club. “So I was looking forward to the PGA Tour Champions, and catching up with the guys I haven’t seen for awhile. It’s been fun out here so far. My golf hasn’t quite caught fire yet, but hopefully it will come alive.”

Goosen isn’t concerned about the challenge of learning a whole new set of courses on the PGA Tour Champions.

“A golf course is a golf course,” Goosen said. “You’ve got to hit it down the fairway, hit it on the green and make a putt. For me, my short iron play has just not quite been sharp enough. That’s something I’ve got to work on, because I’m still pretty good off the tee, so I have a lot of short irons into the green. If I get that right, I’ll be hitting it close to the hole and I’ll start making putts.”

Goosen played 20 events on the PGA Tour last year, and he plans to play a handful of tournaments on that tour this summer. But he’ll spend a majority of his time on the PGA Tour Champions.

“My focus is out here now,” Goosen said. “I just need to get in a bit of a groove.”

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 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.”