Round 1 recap: Friday at the Principal Charity Classic.

Bernhard Langer has won more than 100 golf tournaments worldwide during his World Golf Hall of Fame career.

His play at the Wakonda Club in the Principal Charity Classic has been an exception.

But Friday, Langer looked like someone about to change that. Arriving in Des Moines on the heels of back-to-back major championship victories at the Regions Tradition and Senior PGA Championship, Langer shot a 6-under-par 66 and shares the lead after the first round of the Principal Charity Classic.

“I’ve never cracked it really,” Langer said of Wakonda, hosting this PGA TOUR Champions stop for a fifth time. “I had a couple of good runs at it, But I never got comfortable. Today, I played very solid.”

Langer had seven birdies and one bogey, and shares the lead with Glen Day and Kevin Sutherland. Defending champion Scott McCarron and former Principal champions Mark Calcavecchia and Russ Cochran are in a group just one shot back.

Langer’s previous low round at Wakonda had been a 68 in the first round of the 2015 tournament.

“I figured I had the game if I can win just about anywhere else in the world 105 times,” said the two-time Masters champion and winner of nine PGA TOUR Champions majors. “I’m a strong believer if you play well, you can play anywhere. And I haven’t done that here. I’ve had one or two good rounds, but I’ve never put three good rounds together. So hopefully we’ll break that this week and do better.”

Day started on the back nine and went birdie-eagle-birdie in a three-hole stretch starting at No. 14.

“I told my caddie, I played a lot better in the last month but I haven’t scored as good,” Day said. “I’d rather have the score.”

The forecast for the weekend is for temperatures near 100 and winds blowing at or in excess of 30 mph. Day, who has played in plenty of wind in his native Oklahoma, hopes the forecast is accurate.

“I don’t oppose it, trust me,” Day said. “I would rather have it. I’d rather the scores not be 20 under. That’s better for me.”

Sutherland, who also had a bogey-free round, has seven Top 10 finishes on the PGA TOUR Champions this season.

“It’s been a little shot, here or there, that’s prevented me from getting really close to winning or winning at all,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland had one victory and 48 Top 10 finishes in a PGA TOUR career that covered 447 events. It was a runner-up finish in the 1992 Ben Hogan Hawkeye Open at Finkbine in Iowa City that gave Sutherland’s career a big boost.

“That was a good week for me, I remember it vividly,” Sutherland said. “I think I three-putted the last hole to miss a playoff.  But I got on the PGA TOUR shortly after and stayed out there. That (1992) was the year that got me going in the right direction.”

McCarron was 1 over par through seven holes, but rallied with a back-nine 31 that saw him birdie six of the final eight holes.

“It was a good comeback,” McCarron said. “You can’t win the tournament the first day, but you can certainly lose it.  I was not doing very well on the front nine, and then I made a really strong finish.”

McCarron bogeyed the par-5 5th hole when his tee shot hit a tree and kicked 50 yards left out-of-bounds. That snapped a streak of 51 consecutive holes without a bogey going back to last year.  He also 3-putted No. 14 from 14 feet for his second bogey. McCarron had just one bogey the entire tournament last year.

“Knowing the weekend is going to be very difficult, I didn’t want to be too far behind,” McCarron said of his rally down the stretch.

Jerry Kelly, Scott Verplank and Brant Jobe joined the trio of former Principal champions at 67.

Calcavecchia , a winner in 2015, and Cochran, who took the  title in 2013, have both had injury issues this year. Cochran missed most of the 2016 season with an elbow injury. Then he had a heart issue in January, and doctors inserted two stents.

“There are a lot of people out here who play in pain and don’t have the flexibility or ability they used to have,” Cochran said. “So I fall right in line with those guys.  I think the challenge is to see if we can get our bodies to work. I used to say that it was 95 percent golf, and five percent maintenance. Now I’m just about the opposite.”

Wakonda feels like home for Calcavecchia, who grew up 31/2 hours away in Laurel, Neb.

“This is probably my favorite tournament,” said Calvacecchia, who has been seeing a chiropractor for his bad back. “Any time that you’ve won at a place, it jumps right up to the top of your list.”

Like he did in 2015, Calvacecchia was wearing slacks with a bacon design during Friday’s round. He doesn’t plan the same attire Saturday, when heat is expected to be a factor.

“These pants are more suited for 58 degrees than 98 degrees,” Calcavecchia said. “I think I’ll go with something a little lighter.”

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


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. 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


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