Rick Brown Review: 2016 Principal Charity Classic Was A Winner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


Saturday Recap: Andrade Breaks Course Record, Fans Set Attendance Best

Billy Andrade tied for 10th in last year’s Principal Charity Classic, and it was a mood-altering experience. He shot 66 in the first and third rounds, but 76 in the second round.

“I played with Bernhard Langer on the first and third day,” Andrade said. “We were in the locker room afterwards and he said, ‘You shoot 12 under with me, you shoot 4 over without me. You need to play with me more often.’ I said, ‘Yea, no kidding.’”

Langer skipped this year’s Principal Charity Classic, but Andrade didn’t miss him.

Andrade shot a record-setting 9-under-par 63 in Saturday’s second round and shares the lead with Joe Durant and Todd Hamilton at 10 under par heading into Sunday’s final round.

Another record was set Saturday. The 26,719 fans who came to Wakonda set a second-round attendance record. Friday’s announced attendance of 25,058 was also a record for the first round.

Tom Lehman and Miguel Ángel Jiménez both birdied the 18th hole to finish at 9 under. Lehman, who shot 68, has broken par in all 14 career rounds at the Principal Charity Classic. He’s finished eighth or better in his last four appearances.

Jimenez, making his first appearance at Wakonda, bounced back from a double bogey at No. 7 and a bogey at the par-5 15th to finish within a shot of the lead with a 67.

Eight players head into Sunday’s final round within two shots of the lead. Rocco Mediate, the winner at the Senior PGA Championship last week, is at 8 under along with Scott McCarron and first-round leader John Inman. Inman was alone in the lead at 11 under until he hit two balls in the water and made a triple-bogey 6 at the par-3 17th hole.

In the 15-year history of this event, no one has ever come from more than two shots back to win.

Much of Saturday’s attention was on Andrade and his record-setting round of golf.

“It was a great day,” Andrade said. “I was going along pretty well, then I birdied 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18.”

Andrade also got off to a good start on the front nine, making three straight birdies starting at No. 3. After his only bogey of the day at No. 6, he bounced back with another birdie on No. 8 to turn in 33. Then came his 6-under 30 on the back nine.

“I didn’t get off to a great start (Friday),” Andrade said. “This golf course is pretty easy. But when you’re off a little bit it can really play hard, and it’s tough to hit these fairways.”

Andrade’s 63 is the lowest round shot in the Principal Charity Classic at the Wakonda Club, which became tournament host in 2013.  It was also a course record at Wakonda, which opened in 1922. The previous low, 64, was posted by Bill Glasson in 2014 (final round) and Bart Bryant in 2013 (second round).

It also tied the all-time tournament record in relation to par. Kirk Triplett shot a 9-under-par 62 in the final round of the 2012 tournament at Glen Oaks (par 71). There were also a trio of 63s shot at Glen Oaks: John Bland in the second round in 2002; Massy Kuramoto in the final round in 2007; and Tommy Armour III in the first round in 2010.

Durant shot 65 Saturday at a Wakonda course he’s had success on. Durant tied for second in 2015 and was seventh in 2014. He’s shot in the 60s in seven of eight career rounds here.

“It’s going to take a lot of birdies to have a chance,” Durant said.

Hamilton also birdied 18 for a second straight 67 to be part of a jammed leaderboard.

“I think it’s going to be great for the fans,” said Hamilton, who has a piece of the lead heading into the final round for the first time since he won the 2004 British Open. “We saw a guy (Saturday) shooting 9 under. It’s definitely gettable.”

Andrade and playing partners Jeff Sluman and Duffy Waldorf rode each other’s momentum all day. Sluman had a 68, Waldorf a 67. Their best ball was a 14-under 58. Someone in the group birdied every hole on the back nine.

Andrade, who won three times on the PGA TOUR Champions in 2015, lost a playoff to Esteban Toledo at the Allianz Championship this year and also finished fifth in last week’s Senior PGA Championship. He’s finished in the Top 10 in four of his last five starts.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Andrade said. “I feel good about my game. I know I’ve got to shoot a good round (Sunday).  I’ve just got to play my best and see if that’s good enough. Anybody can do what I did (Saturday). That’s how good everybody is. When they get hot, they can flush it out.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter


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


Miguel Ángel Jiménez Joins 2016 Principal Charity Classic Field

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

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

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

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

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

CHIP IN FOR CHARITY

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

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

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

###

About the Principal Charity Classic

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

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

About Principal®

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

About PGA TOUR Champions

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