Q&A with…Brandt Jobe

Brandt Jobe and his new Principal Charity Classic bobblehead.

Brandt Jobe celebrated his first career PGA TOUR Champions victory at the 2017 Principal Charity Classic, holding off defending champion Scott McCarron and eventual Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland by one shot at historic Wakonda Club in Des Moines.

Jobe continued his strong play throughout the 2017 season – including a record-tying round of 62 at the U.S. Senior Open – before finishing 7th in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings.

The 51-year-old Texas resident recently returned to Des Moines for the Principal Charity Classic’s 2018 Media Day and visited Wakonda Club for the first time since his victory.

RB: You ended a long drought (403 events on the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR Champions) with your victory at the Principal Charity Classic last year. When you sit here and look out at Wakonda’s 18th green, I’m sure that brings back some special memories.

BJ: I’m sitting here envisioning my shot, what club I hit here, what I had to do. It does feel good. I had a lot of close calls on TOUR, and I probably wasn’t as good a player as I should have been. I tried to juggle family and golf a lot. But at the end of the day, I think I made the right decision because I’m close to my kids.

RB: What kept you going during that streak outside the winner’s circle?

BJ: My wife (Jennifer). If I call her up and say, ‘I’m going to do this, or I’m going to play there,’ she’s always been a go. And when you have someone telling you, ‘Go practice, go for it,’ it’s pretty nice to have that support mechanism. I wish I would have done some things differently with my game, but I’ve had a heck of a run. I’ve got a great wife, great kids (daughter, Brittan, and son, Jackson). Everyone has been supportive. And I’m doing what I love to do. I’m over 50, and I’m still playing golf. It doesn’t get much better than that.

RB: You suffered a freak accident back in 2006, when a plastic-and-steel broom handle you were using to clean leaves out of your garage in suburban Dallas snapped, and sliced off the tip of your left thumb and forefinger to the bone. Luckily, you acted quickly, put them on ice and had them reattached successfully. Did you think golf was over?

BJ: My daughter was there, and it was not something a 6-year-old needs to see. I was covered in blood. Luckily, I had a friend down the street (former TOUR player Brian Watts), and he gave me a ride to the hospital. On the ride there I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m done.’

RB: You called a doctor friend of yours, who knew a microsurgeon, Dr. David Zehr (who just happened to be on call at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas). And he was able to put you back together.

BJ: He came in and said, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ I got unlucky with the broom breaking, but I was so lucky that a great doctor was there to help out.

RB: What is it about your left side? You’ve had several surgeries on your left shoulder, left wrist, and then your left hand.

BJ: This one is perfect (holding up his right arm).

RB: You attended the 1978 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in Denver, Colorado. Isn’t that where golf caught your fancy?

BJ: I was 13 or 14 years old, a big baseball player. I didn’t really play golf. But I thought, ‘How cool is this?’ If you go out and shoot 71, you’re at 71. Playing baseball, I went 1-for-3 and some other kid went 1-for-5, and he’s batting in front of me. Why? Because there are coaches and other things involved. I thought golf was pretty cool. What you shoot is what you are. It was so fair. A brutally honest game. I think that’s what attracted me to it. I played a year of high-school golf (at Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colo.), and I got lucky.

RB: You first met Scott McCarron in the parking lot at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles when you both were freshmen at UCLA. He won his first PGA TOUR Champions title at the 2016 Principal Charity Classic. And then you went out and did the same thing here a year later.

BJ: I wouldn’t have expected this to be Scott McCarron’s first win, at all. And I certainly wouldn’t have expected it to be mine. I thought it would have been at one of the bigger courses, because our advantage is definitely length. But length does have a place (at Wakonda Club), too.

RB: Can you imagine during your first conversation with Scott at Bel-Air if you had said, ‘I bet we both win on the PGA TOUR Champions for the first time in Des Moines, Iowa.’

BJ: That would have been crazy, right? Crazy.

RB: You’re coming off a great 2017 season (one victory, seven top-10s, more than $1 million in earnings). You also matched the record low round in a U.S. Senior Open with a 62 in the third round at Salem Country Club before finishing third. Where does that 62 rank in the memory bank?

BJ: That was fun. Great golf course, a USGA event. A very memorable round. It was very cool to come up to the 18th hole and open up (TV) coverage by hitting a shot in there to four feet, and then make the putt. It was neat for my kids. They were there. They hadn’t gotten a chance to do all the media stuff. So they got to go on FOX (TV) with me, and go in the big USGA (interview room) and be a part of that. It really helped them understand, ‘This is what dad does.’ It was really special for me to have them be a part of that.

RB: Your career resume shows you typically start slow each season and then build momentum as you go. Is that the case again this year?

BJ: If you look at my past seasons, I’m right on track. I’m always working on stuff. Sometimes my tweaks don’t work, sometimes they do. Ballstriking is usually a strength, and it’s been a weakness this year. Putting’s usually the weakness, and it’s been a strength.

RB: You came to Wakonda last year with a bunch of putters, looking to find your stroke. And you found it.

BJ: I’m not a guy who usually changes things. I think I had eight or nine putters on the practice green. I whittled it down to three and took all of them with me during the Pro-Am. I went six holes with the first one I thought I’d putt with, and said, ‘Nah.’ Three holes with the next one, and it wasn’t right. I had this SeeMore I went with the rest of the day, and shot 6 under par. That’s the putter that kind of got things going.

RB: You said you don’t like to change equipment, but you have a bag full of new clubs. What happened?

BJ: I got my equipment broken after the first event of the year (Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai). They ran over my golf clubs. Thank you, American Airlines. They had to pry my TOUR bag apart. Someone ran over them with a truck. Three-wood, gone. Driver, gone. Two new sand wedges, gone. A couple of other shafts, gone. Putter survived, though.

RB: Dialing in the proper equipment is a science. Equipment is your livelihood. What did American tell you?

BJ: They said to send in receipts for when I purchased the equipment. I told them it’s not the money. You don’t understand how much time I’ve put in getting some of those things. The driver, for me, was 30 or 40 shafts of testing, hours and hours of time, going to the factories and doing all of those things. That actually slowed me up quite a bit this year. But I think I’m in pretty good shape now.

RB: The first 2017 PGA Tour Champions event your wife Jennifer attended was the Principal Charity Classic in her home state (she’s from Dubuque). She was going to attend your son’s baseball tournament, as I recall, but family members talked her into coming to Des Moines.

BJ: Her brother and sister both said, ‘Are you crazy? Go.’ She got to see her sisters, her mom and dad. The first tournament she comes to, it’s in her home state, both her sisters and her dad come out, and I win? Pretty amazing.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Editor’s note: The first 500 fans to arrive at the Principal Charity Classic on Sunday, June 10, will receive a free Brandt Jobe bobblehead (pictured above). Can’t wait? Brandt’s bobbleheads are currently available for purchase, while supplies last, at principalcharityclassicstore.com. All proceeds benefit Iowa children’s charities.

Brandt Jobe wins by one at Principal Charity Classic for first career PGA TOUR Champions victory.

It’s a small world after all.

Brandt Jobe won the Principal Charity Classic Sunday at the Wakonda Club. He outdueled his good friend and college roommate, defending tournament champion Scott McCarron, down the stretch.

Jobe’s wife, Jennifer, is from Dubuque, where her parents still live.

“I just can’t get the smile off my face,” Jennifer said.

Originally, Jennifer wasn’t going to come to Des Moines. She was going to join her son, Jackson, at a baseball tournament in Tulsa, Okla.

“I talked to my brother, Jeff, on the phone and he said, “You’ve got to take advantage of being back home and being there with Brandt,” Jennifer said.

She texted Jeff back on Sunday.

“Thanks,” she told him.

The strap on Brandt Jobe’s tour golf bag broke before Saturday’s second round of the Principal Charity Classic. Jobe found a carry bag to use for the rest of the tournament. And he offered his tour bag to his former high school classmate, Greg Conrad. The same Greg Conrad who is tournament director of the Principal Charity Classic. They attended Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colo. “He said, if you want it I’d love to give it to you,” Conrad said of the bag. “He said, “I’ll sign it and leave it by my locker. I don’t think it will be worth much, but you can do with it what you want.’ And I said, “I think it will be worth more than you think.” A day later, Jobe was the newest champion of the Principal Charity Classic. And Conrad had a collector’s item.

Jobe and Principal Charity Classic tournament director Greg Conrad attended the same high school. Conrad was a freshman at Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colo., when Jobe was a senior. Conrad was a trainer on the baseball team. Jobe was the ace pitcher. Small world, indeed.

Jobe shot a final-round 69 and finished at 14-under-par 202. McCarron, who ran off six straight birdies to fly up the leaderboard, shot a 6-under-par 66 but missed a 41/2-birdie putt on the 18th green to finish one shot behind his former UCLA teammate.

“It was a great finish,” McCarron said. “I just missed one putt. That’s the way it goes. I played really good for a stretch of holes, made six birdies in a row and just couldn’t get any more down the stretch. Brandt Jobe, I’m really happy for him. Really proud of him.”

Jobe won using a new putter. He changed after McCarron told him his putting stunk two weeks after the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

“Yea, how about that,” Jobe said. “I changed putters and win the next week, so go figure.”

The key word there is win. Jobe’s last professional victory came 18 years ago, at the Mizuno Open on the Japan Golf Tour. He had played 403 events on the PGA TOUR, Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR Champions, without a victory.

The drought is over, and Jobe has a first-place check for $262,500 to prove it.

“It’s been a long time,” Jobe said. “I lost in a playoff on the PGA TOUR and had a couple of close calls, but it’s hard. You’re out here to win, and I haven’t done as good a job as I would have liked. So this is nice. It’s a little bit of a relief.”

McCarron shared the runner-up spot with Kevin Sutherland, who holed his final shot of the tournament for an eagle-2 on No. 18.

“There’s a little luck involved,” Sutherland said. “But I hit a really good shot.”

Sutherland’s final-round included another eagle at the par-5 13th. A double bogey on the par-3 9th proved costly in his closing 68.

Bernhard Langer, the Schwab Cup points leader and No. 1 money winner this season, closed with a bogey-free 67. Langer missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the final green that would have earned him a share of second.

“I was pleased with most of what I did,” said Langer, who was going for three PGA TOUR Champions victories in a row. “I just didn’t quite have it in me.”

It was still the best showing for Langer at Wakonda, where he tied for 48th in 2015 and tied for 31st in 2013. This was his 141st career Top 10 finish in 197 PGA TOUR Champions events.

Jobe started the final round tied for the lead with Glen Day, and was rock solid the entire round.  He had four birdies and one bogey Sunday. But McCarron almost caught him.

Jobe had six straight birdies in a second-round 66 that got him the lead Saturday. McCarron matched that streak, and the two were tied at 13 under par after Jobe made his only bogey of the day at the par-3 14th.

Jobe looked at the leaderboard at one point while McCarron was making his run, and smiled.

“I knew that’s the way it was going to work out,” said Jobe, who regained the lead with a birdie at the par-5 15th.

When McCarron walked off 18 tee, Jobe was on 16 green. The two made eye contact and gave each other a thumbs-up.

McCarron was 41/2 feet away from tying Jobe on the 18th green, but missed it.

“I played to the right side of the cup, but it broke more than I thought it would,” McCarron said.

McCarron figured his chances of going back-to-back at Wakonda were extinguished at that point.

“I’m happy for him,” McCarron said of his roommate as Jobe walked up the 18th fairway. “I’m glad he won it.”

Jobe played a safe second shot to the front of the 18th green, then two-putted for his first PGA TOUR Champions victory. It came on the same green where McCarron had made a birdie putt for his first PGA TOUR Champions victory the year before.

“Wow, how about that,” McCarron said to his wife, Jenny, as Jobe tapped in his final putt. He then walked out to the green and hugged Jobe.

“We’re going to Hawaii,” McCarron said to Jennifer Jobe.

The PGA TOUR Champions winners open the following season at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

“When I saw Scott at (13 under) I thought, “Oh my gosh,’” Jennifer said. “But I wouldn’t have minded coming in second to Scott.”

Instead, Jennifer kissed her winning husband when it was over.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” Jennifer said.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Round 2 recap: Saturday at the Principal Charity Classic.

Dave Marr, Golf Channel (left); Brandt Jobe; and Scott McCarron at the 2017 Principal Charity Classic.

Brandt Jobe and Scott McCarron were college freshmen at UCLA when they first met, in the parking lot of the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif.

“He was the first guy I met at UCLA,” McCarron said.

They were told to meet in that parking lot by their coach, Eddie Merrins.

“He said, “You’re going to have a game at Bel-Air with this kid from Colorado,” McCarron said. “I drove 61/2 hours from Sacramento, pulled into the parking lot and he was standing right there. I said, “Are you Brandt Jobe?’ He said, “Are you Scott McCarron?’ I said, “Yes, let’s go play. We went out that night, and became best friends forever.”

Both graduated from UCLA in 1988. Both majored in history. They played the PGA TOUR together. They also spent time on the Canadian Tour and the Hooters Tour at the same time. And now they’re on the PGA TOUR Champions together.

McCarron is the defending champion at the Principal Charity Classic, and Jobe is in position to win the same trophy on Sunday at the Wakonda Club.

Jobe shot a six-under-par 66, the lowest round of the day, and is tied for the lead with Glen Day at 11-under 133 heading into Sunday’s final round.

It was a remarkable round in hot, windy conditions. It was also remarkable because after making a double-bogey 5 at No. 9, Jobe ran off six straight birdies. It matched the longest streak on the PGA TOUR Champions this year. Jerry Smith, David Toms and Billy Mayfair all had six straight at the Allianz Championship.

“I just completely screwed up on No. 9,” Jobe said. “That got me pretty hot. So the it was like, “Let’s go, I have nothing to lose.’  You never know when you’re going to make a bunch in a row, but it worked out nicely.”

Day shot a 67, and is the only player in the field without a bogey through the first two rounds. Dating back to the 2016 Principal Charity Classic, Day has a streak of 47 consecutive bogey-free holes. Day also has an active PGA TOUR Champions streak of 48 consecutive holes without a bogey, dating back to the last 12 holes of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Day has hit 33 of 36 greens in regulation the first two rounds.

“Luckily, the greens are still fairly receptive,” Day said. “They’re bouncing, and I think they’re perfect. I think the staff has done a wonderful job with the weather they’ve had because it could have gotten away from them real quick.”

Kevin Sutherland will join Jobe and Day in the final pairing, teeing off Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Sutherland shot a second-round 69 and is at 135, two shots back.

Three more players – Tom Lehman, Steve Flesch and Michael Bradley – are tied for fourth at 136.

It should come as no surprise that Lehman is in contention this week. The Minnesota native has finished eighth or better in all five of his previous Principal Charity Classic appearances. The first two were at  Glen Oaks. The last three were at Wakonda, a course Lehman first played as a University of Minnesota golfer in the Drake Relays Invitational.

“It’s a good course for me,” said Lehman, who won his 10th career PGA TOUR Champions title earlier this year in Tucson, Ariz. “I think it’s a good golf course for people who drive the ball well and who are solid and can manage their putting. So it kind of plays into my game typically.”

Bernhard Langer, who shared the first-round lead, had a two-shot advantage after holing his second shot for eagle at No. 4 and then making a birdie at No. 5 to go to 9 under. But he had a season-high five bogeys in a round of 71 and starts the final round four shots off the lead. Langer is coming off victories in the Regions Tradition and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, both majors.

“I wish I was a little closer,” Langer said. “Four back, that’s a lot to make up. But it’s happened before, so hopefully I will play better tomorrow.”

Both McCarron and Jobe finished in the Top 10 at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship two weeks ago. Over dinner and drinks that night, McCarron made a suggestion.

“He said, “What do you think about my putter?’ ” McCarron recalled. “I said, “It stinks. You’ve got to change putters. So he changed his putter this week. And he’s putting great. He should have listened to me a long time ago.”

Jobe said it was his alignment, more than his stroke, that was off. Both McCarron, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR Champions, and his caddy told Jobe the same thing.

“They were not soft on me,” Jobe said. “At the end of the day I realized, “Alright, that stinks.”

Jobe switched to a putter that helps him align the ball much better. The proof is on the scorecard.

Jobe and he and McCarron “had way too much fun together” at UCLA. Now, Jobe wants to join his friend as a winner of the Principal Charity Classic.

“I’ve seen a lot of his game, and his game is good,” said McCarron, who is tied for seventh heading into Sunday’s final round after shooting 67-70. “He’s one of the best players out here. He’s just got to get some putts rolling.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

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

Scott McCarron and his secret weapon at Wakonda.

Scott McCarron leaned on a secret weapon when he won the Principal Charity Classic last year.

It was a guy who started working as a caddie at Wakonda Club when he was 10 years old. A guy who later became a member, won an Iowa Amateur and a Trans-Mississippi here and knows the ins and outs of this rolling, ageless old-school beauty as well as anyone.  A guy who has gone on to become the most accomplished amateur golfer in Iowa history.

“After you’ve played here a thousand times you know which way the ball is going to bounce,” said Mike McCoy of West Des Moines, aka Mr. Secret Weapon.

McCarron was a PGA TOUR Champions rookie last season when he arrived at Wakonda, a course he knew nothing about.

“I got here Tuesday, and it rained and rained,” McCarron said. “The course finally opened up and I played, 1, 2, 3 and maybe 4. Then it started raining again. And then I was in the Wednesday Pro-Am, and I was playing with Mike. I thought, “This is great, at least I can learn it.”

McCarron already knew McCoy through Mark Loomis, a friend of McCoy’s and McCarron’s producer at Fox Sports. McCarron did some analysis on the network’s golf coverage.

McCoy has won the Iowa Amateur six times, including 1995 at Wakonda. He won the Iowa Mid-Amateur six times. He won the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur, punching his ticket to the 2014 Masters. McCoy is an 11-time Iowa Amateur of the Year and six-time Iowa Senior Amateur of the Year. The crowning achievement came when he was selected to the 2015 Walker Cup team.

So that is the depth of knowledge and success McCarron tapped into when he got to Wakonda.

“(McCoy) was teaching me a lot about off the tees, because there’s a lot of blind shot,” McCarron said. “There’s a lot of shots where, yes, I can hit driver and carry some of those things, but you’ve got to lay back off the tee if you want to hit a full shot because you don’t want to be stuck with a downhill lie. So he was giving me a lot of strategy about what I needed to do to play this golf course. Going around with him was like going around with a seasoned veteran. He was like my caddie for the day, teaching me where to go.”

The next morning, McCoy left town to start preparations for his U.S. Open sectional qualifier in New Jersey five days later.  McCarron felt like he needed to play Wakonda again, but he wasn’t scheduled to play in Thursday’s Pro-Am.

And then friend and college roommate at UCLA, Brandt Jobe, mentioned to McCarron that he was looking for a way to get out of playing in Thursday’s Pro-Am.  McCarron immediately called Greg Conrad, the Principal Charity Classic’s tournament director.

“I said, ‘Hey, I want to take his spot, let’s work it out,’ ” McCarron recalled. “And they were able to do that and put it together.”

After another look at Wakonda, McCarron went out and shot 68-68-65 to finish one shot in front of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Billy Andrade. McCarron birdied the final three holes, and had just one bogey the entire tournament.

McCoy was keeping track of Sunday’s final round from New Jersey.

“I was thrilled for him, because I knew it meant a lot to him,” McCoy said. “And it was fun that I had a chance to send a day with him.”

It was McCarron’s first victory on the PGA TOUR Champions, and two more have followed. He added the 2016 Dominion Charity Classic and the 2017 Allianz Championship, making eagle on the final hole.

McCarron has had four other Top 10 finishes this season, including a tie for second at the Regions Tradition and a fifth at the Senior PGA Championship in his last two events.

Bernhard Langer won the Regions Tradition and Senior PGA Championship. McCarron is second on the PGA TOUR Champions money list with earnings of $784,351. Langer has more than doubled that.

“Bernhard Langer inspires me every day,” McCarron said. “There are days when I’m like, “I don’t really feel like working out, but I know Langer is probably working out.’ I should probably call him and see if he’s actually working out so I can sit on the couch, eat and watch TV.”

Langer inspires McCarron to dig a little deeper.

“He practices hard,” McCarron said. “He does his homework for golf courses. He’s here early and he doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s tough to beat. I have to play really, really well, and not make many mistakes, to have a chance to beat him.”

Thirty-two of the Top 40 players in the current Charles Schwab Cup standings are in the Principal Charity Classic field. Tom Lehman, who has finished fifth or better in all five of his Principal Charity Classic appearances, and Stephen Ames join Langer and McCarron as 2017 winners in the PGA TOUR Champions. But only McCarron has a secret weapon at Wakonda.

“He gives me more credit than I probably deserve,” McCoy said. “He hit all the shots, and I suspect he’ll do well. Wakonda is a great golf course, but it doesn’t suit everybody. The guys who figure it out, it can be had with the right game plan.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter



10 Questions with Scott McCarron

2016 Principal Charity Classic Champion Scott McCarron (left) and Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter Rick Brown.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

RB: Hale Irwin won 45 PGA TOUR Champions titles. You had dinner with him at last year’s Regions Tradition tournament (two weeks before the 2016 Principal Charity Classic) to pick his brain about why he was successful. You’ve won three times since. What advice did he give you?

SM: The main thing I took out of it was this: Find out what type of player you are and be that player. I was always trying to be the heroic guy, hit the heroic shot, go for broke. When I got in the hunt, if I was one up, I wanted to be seven up. I was always trying to do too much. I realized I’ve got to be more patient out there, kind of let the tournaments come to me, and see where I’m at the last couple of holes. Just be patient.

RB: Patience is a big reason why you won last year at Wakonda, right?

SM: I was very patient. I didn’t make a lot of birdies the last day, just kind of hanging in there. And then, lo and behold, I birdie 16, 17 and 18 to win. That showed me I’ve got to be a lot more patient because I was trying to force things a little too much. Especially just coming out to the PGA TOUR Champions. You want to win, you want to play well, you think you’ve got this five-year window and you want to get it done. If I stay in shape, I can have a 10-12-year window. No reason to rush it, let’s just be patient and hit the shots you know you can hit.

RB: You talk about not going for the heroic shot, but you win here by closing with three straight birdies, you win the 2016 Dominion Charity Classic in a playoff and you win the 2017 Allianz Championship with an eagle on the final hole.

SM: True, but I got in all those positions because I was patient. And then I was able to pull off a shot when I needed it. But even at the Dominion, I had about the same length putt I had here to win (10-footer on No. 18) and missed it. But I didn’t let it bother me. I lost in a playoff to Colin Montgomerie in Canada (Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship). You’re not going to win them all.

RB: You won three times on the PGA TOUR, and you were one of the first to use a long putter. Would you say that putting kept you from winning even more?

SM: Putting did not hold me back one bit. I was an excellent putter. But I putted with a long putter. Nothing held me back on the regular tour, except it’s hard. I won three times, lost a couple of playoffs, had some Top 10s in majors. I had a nice career. But not like a guy who won 10 or 12 times. I really feel like I should have won five or six, seven events on the PGA TOUR. Which would have been a really good career for me.  Unfortunately I only won three. But I still won.

RB: You hadn’t won a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event in 16 years (287 events since the 2001 BellSouth Classic) prior to last year’s Principal Charity Classic. Did that even enter your mind when you came down the stretch on Sunday at the Principal?

SM: Zero. I hadn’t won since 2001, but the feeling you have trying to win a golf tournament doesn’t go away.  It doesn’t matter if you’re on the PGA TOUR Champions, the PGA TOUR or your club championship. We still have the same feelings anybody has going to win a tournament. It’s calming yourself, clearing your mind and hitting the shots you need to have.

RB: You played your final 47 holes without a bogey at Wakonda last year. That’s remarkable.

SM: I remember the only bogey I made was on No. 7 (in the first round). I ran a 35-footer about 5 feet by. And as I was putting some car went down the road and honked right in my backswing. I’m like, “Really?” That was the only bogey I made all week. The guy got me. A White Cutlass Supreme. I wish I would have gotten the license number.

RB: You won three times in a 17-month stretch, shortly after getting married in April of 2016. What role has your wife Jenny played in your success?

SM: She’s been amazing. We’ve been together for about 5 years now. She has been so supportive. Because there was a time, when we started dating, where I was injured. I had to have thumb surgery  to have a bone spur removed. I wasn’t playing that well. I had a couple years to get ready for the PGA TOUR Champions, which I was really looking forward to. We were going out and playing the Web.com Tour, and she was caddying for me at some events. Staying in podunk hotels, trying to save some money.  It was tough. And she was so supportive. And then I got the job with Fox to do announcing. And there was a little bit of me that said, “I don’t know if I’m going to be good enough on the PGA TOUR Champions to keep doing it.” And she kept pushing me. She said, “You know what? You are. This is what you love to do.” Her being a fitness instructor and triathlete, I was training a lot with her, getting in shape. And she was a huge motivational factor for me to practice and prepare for the PGA TOUR Champions.

RB: You’ve got some interesting hobbies, like flying, mountain biking, fly fishing and guitar. Do they help you get away from golf?

SM: Absolutely. We love to fly fish. I got my pilot’s license back in college, so I was flying and doing quite a bit of that. I’m not flying now.  I’m a member of a race track. We go out there and race cars a little bit.

RB: It sounds like you enjoy living on the edge a bit.

SM: I like doing something that occupies my mind so that I’m not thinking about golf because golf can be very consuming. You’ve got to get away. And when I’m fly-fishing, it’s that next cast. I’m not thinking about anything in golf.

RB: When you come back to a place where you’ve won, is it a nice feeling?

SM: Just driving in the parking lot here (at Wakonda Club), I got a “whoa” feeling. Those emotions come flooding back. Because this was a very exciting time, to win your first event. I love this golf course. I love how well this event is supported by the city, the fans, the sponsors, the volunteers – everyone. The Principal Charity Classic is one of the best-run tournaments we play on the PGA TOUR Champions. It feels like a major. Having that many people come out and watch us play really is a thrill.

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

Sunday Championship Recap: Scott McCarron Wins 2016 Principal Charity Classic With Closing 65

It’s safe to say that marriage agrees with Scott McCarron.

“It absolutely is,” McCarron said, smiling at the thought, after winning the Principal Charity Classic Sunday at the Wakonda Club.

Since tying the knot with his wife, Jenny, in late April, McCarron has a victory and a pair of Top 10 finishes in PGA TOUR Champions majors.

“She’s been a phenomenal support,” McCarron said. “She’s seen every shot I’ve hit for the last four years. Hasn’t missed a single one. Even when I was thinking about hanging it up and doing TV she really pushed me and kept me going.  I’ve got to hand it to her. She really stuck by me through a lot of difficult times.”

McCarron birdied the final three holes to shoot a closing 65 and finish at 15-under-par 201, one shot better than Miguel Ángel Jiménez (67) and Billy Andrade (68).

There were several key moments along the way, but none were bigger than the 36-foot downhill birdie putt he made on the par-3 17th green.

“That was a biggie,” said McCarron, who played the final 47 holes without a bogey. “I thought 17 was going to be a game changer. Halfway there, I knew it was in.”

But his final birdie, from just inside 10 feet on 18, turned out to be just as important became both Jimenez and Andrade also birdied the closing hole.

McCarron was a bundle of nervous energy as he waited for Jiménez, playing in the group behind him, and Andrade, playing two groups back, to finish. McCarron signed some autographs. Then he put on his sunglasses and stood with Jenny, arms crossed. Then he signed a few more autographs. Then he paced a little bit. Then he did an interview with the Golf Channel. Then he paced some more.

“I’m glad it worked out,” McCarron said. “I’d rather be in control out there, trying to make birdie coming down the stretch. But it was a good feeling. I birdied the last three holes to put myself in that position. I couldn’t do any more.”

Jimenez, trying to win for the second time on the PGA TOUR Champions this year, went up to McCarron after the round, shook his hand, bent over and pretended like he was taking a ball out of the cup. Jiménez saw a lot of that from McCarron down the stretch.

“There’s nothing you can do but congratulate him,” Jiménez said.

Andrade’s rally was really remarkable. He started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead with Todd Hamilton and Joe Durant at 10 under. Andrade bogeyed the first three holes, and fell back in the pack.

But he caught fire on the back nine, making four straight birdies starting at No. 12 and closing with a 5-under 31. Andrade set a tournament record with 21 birdies. He was 13 under par on the back nine in three rounds.

“I’m pretty proud of the way I hung in there after the start I had,” Andrade said.

Six different players had at least a share of the lead during the final round – Andrade, Hamilton, Durant, McCarron, Jiménez and Duffy Waldorf. Durant, Jimenez and McCarron had the outright lead. But in the end, McCarron was the last man standing.

Durant and Waldorf finished in a tie for fourth at 11 under par. Tom Lehman and Rocco Mediate, last week’s Senior PGA Championship winner, were another shot back and tied for sixth.  Lehman has finished eighth or better in all five of his Principal Charity Classic appearances.

This was McCarron’s first victory since he won the 2001 BellSouth Classic on the PGA Tour in 2001.

“So this feels good,” McCarron said. “I’ve been playing well. I knew it was coming. I put myself in position. It was just a matter of getting back in the feel again, what does it feel like, how are my nerves under pressure.”

McCarron tied for sixth at the Regions Tradition and was seventh in the Senior PGA Championship leading into the Principal Charity Classic.

And Sunday he was No. 1. He had just one bogey in 54 holes. And a first-prize check of $262,500 to show for it.

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter