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Principal Charity Classic announces 2019 tournament dates.

Save the date!

The Principal Charity Classic®, presented by Wells Fargo, the annual and award-winning PGA TOUR Champions event in Des Moines, is moving up one week on the calendar in 2019.

The tournament dates for next year are May 28-June 2, 2019.

The 2019 Principal Charity Classic will immediately follow the 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, set for May 21-26 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., on next year’s PGA TOUR Champions schedule.

Last year, Principal extended its Principal Charity Classic title sponsorship through 2023. Principal has served as title sponsor since 2007, along with Wells Fargo as presenting sponsor. The extension announcement included the tournament’s host venue, with Wakonda Club set to host the Principal Charity Classic through 2023.

The tournament has donated more than $13 million – and counting – for Iowa children’s charities since it began. In 2017, the Principal Charity Classic donated a record $3,581,427 and touched the lives of more than 130,000 Iowa kids.

The Principal Charity Classic will announce the total charitable dollars raised by its 2018 tournament later this summer.

Ticket sales for the 2019 tournament will open later this year as well.

For more information, visit


Looking back at the 2018 Principal Charity Classic.

Sleep didn’t come easy for Nick Cecere in the days leading up to last week’s Principal Charity Classic.

In his first year as chairman of the tournament’s board of directors, Cecere worried that everything would go off as planned.

“It’s different being a board member looking at things outside-in versus being the chairman and looking at things inside-out, and making sure that every little detail goes well,” Cecere said.

As things were winding down Sunday, Cecere had a winning smile on his face.

“I think it really went well,” Cecere said. “Better than expected. We had great sponsorship, and great volunteers. The PGA TOUR was great working with us. So was Wakonda and its members. Everything came together perfectly.”

Even though severe weather forced cancellation of the final round and robbed golf fans of the anticipated final-round drama, the positive vibe and energy surrounding the 2018 Principal Charity Classic was unmistakable.  And the big picture – raising money for children’s charities – marches on with 20/20 vision.

“I think there’s really momentum behind this tournament,” said Dan Houston, the president, chairman and CEO of Principal.

Both Houston and Cecere predict a record amount of charitable dollars will be raised from this year’s tournament. The existing record, $3,581,427, was established in 2017.

Heading into this season, more than $13 million had been raised for children’s charities since Principal took over as title sponsor in 2007. Wells Fargo is the presenting sponsor of the PGA TOUR Champions stop.

It’s not by accident that the word charity in in the tournament’s title. It’s a reminder that birdies and eagles are nice on a scorecard, but helping kinds is why Principal and its corporate sponsors tee it up.

“We want every spectator and everyone who attends to know that what they’re doing here is not supporting Principal,” Houston said. “They’re supporting charities.”

And supporting youngsters like Cooper, 10, one four 2018 Kids Can Champions. Cooper, who was nominated for the first-year program by Blank Children’s Hospital, is in remission for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Blank Children’s Hospital, Children’s Cancer Connection, Make-A-Wish Iowa, Tori’s Angels Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society have all played a role in Cooper’s life. And they all receive charity dollars from the Principal Charity Classic.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the charities,” Houston said. “This is a very unique community event. You’ve got 350 different businesses that have come together to support it. That is No. 1. And No. 2, this is one of the highest-grossing charitable tournaments on the PGA TOUR Champions.”

Tom Lehman won the 2018 Principal Charity Classic, on the strength of rounds of 66 and 65. A Minnesota native who has flirted with this title for years, Lehman finally collected the handsome trophy and a first-place check for $262,500.

Lehman, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., but grew up in Minnesota and is a Midwesterner at heart, is always quick to mention how charity is such a vital piece of the PGA TOUR Champions puzzle. And he’s not alone.

“The community is really embracing this tournament,” said Bernhard Langer, who has won 37 times on the PGA TOUR Champions and tied for second Sunday. “It’s great they come out in super numbers and they really know their golf and they love cheering us on. It’s great to see lots of kids. We appreciate everybody embracing this, and it’s all for a good cause. It’s for charity.”

A first-round record 26,465 fans came to Wakonda on Friday. Another 26,431 came through the gates on Saturday. Cecere made the rounds both days on foot. He wanted to see first-hand how fans were enjoying the experience.

“Indiscriminately, people came up to me and said, “Hey, this is a great day for the Principal Charity Classic, and a great day for Des Moines,” Cecere said.

Cecere also talked to as many players as he could, and their response was nothing but positive.

“Believe it or not, they were as interested in the charitable side of it as they were the golf,” Cecere said.

He also stopped in the skyboxes to shake hands, look and listen.

“I asked, “What can we do better?’” Cecere said. “One of them said, “We liked it so much we want to sign up for next year already.’”

Cecere has a better grasp of things with a year of experience under his belt. Sleep should come easier from here on out.

“Every part of our community enjoys this thing,” Cecere said. “And that’s what really makes it special.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Recap: Tom Lehman is the 2018 Principal Charity Classic champion.

When one weather delay turned into another Sunday at the Principal Charity Classic, Tom Lehman grew antsy as he sat in his West Des Moines hotel room.

He said he felt like a placekicker getting iced by the opposing coach with timeout after timeout before a field-goal attempt.

Lehman, the leader by two shots, got to the point where he couldn’t take it any more. He and his daughter, Rachael, who also caddies for him, headed to Jordan Creek Mall. She was in a store, buying makeup, when Tom’s phone rang.

“Pay for it,” Tom told his daughter. “We’ve got to go.”

Lehman had just received a message that tournament officials were close to making a decision on whether or not the third round would be played.

On the drive to the Wakonda Club, Lehman got another call from Joe Terry, a PGA TOUR Champions rules official. No golf. Father and daughter celebrated.

“As much as you can in a car as you’re driving, yeah,” Lehman said.

Lehman’s record 36-hole score of 131 (66-65), 13 under par for two laps around Wakonda, was good for a two-shot victory over Bernhard Langer, Scott Parel, Glen Day and Woody Austin. Langer was in the hunt for a 38th PGA TOUR Champions title.

“I finally found a way to beat Bernhard Langer,” Lehman joked.

With 13 players within five shots of the lead heading into the final round, Sunday promised to be a day of drama and great golf. This is the first weather-shortened event in the tournament’s 18-year history.

“I feel bad for the fans,” Lehman said. “I think they were going to get a great show with all the low scores.”

Friday’s attendance of 26,465 was a first-round record. Another 26,431 were on hand Saturday. They saw the field average 70.519 shots on Friday, a record low at Wakonda. It lasted one day. The field broke it by averaging 70.195 strokes on Saturday.

“Tom Lehman set a two-day course record, which is a big deal,” said Dan Houston, the chairman, president and CEO of Principal. “Things really went off perfectly the last two days. And I assure you one thing. We’re not going to let the last day of bad weather take away from what has been a fantastic tournament.”

Houston predicted the tournament would pass the record $3,581,427 raised for charity last year.

Lehman has now won 11 times on the PGA TOUR Champions. He won five times on the PGA TOUR, including the 1996 British Open.

“Kind of a hollow victory,” Lehman said. “A backdoor victory. But I’ll take it.”

Lehman had finished eighth or better in his previous six Principal Charity Classic appearances. He’s broken par in all 20 rounds he has played in the event and compiled a sporty 68.43 stroke average.

This victory, on a course he first played in college when he attended the University of Minnesota, serves as bookends of sorts for Lehman’s outstanding career.

“I think I was 19 when I played here for the first time in the (Drake Relays) tournament,” Lehman said.

Lehman won that Drake title. Sunday, the 59-year-old was a winner at Wakonda again.

“So 40 years of golfing experience, going back,” Lehman said. “And so to come back at this level, I think it’s kind of unique. It’s one of those little things that nobody really knows or cares about but the people who were a part of it.”

Lehman said his daughter will get her full share of the winner’s check of $262,500, even though Sunday turned into a day off.

“If I get a full share, she gets a full share,” Lehman said.

Rachael has been an ideal caddie for her dad.

“She doesn’t know that much about golf,” Lehman said. “But she’s extremely supportive.”

Rachael, 28, who is married, loves her current job.

“I’ve always been a daddy’s girl, but it definitely helps to be closer and spent quality time with him,” she said.

It was a winning combination for the Lehmans on Sunday, without a swing of the club.

“It’s nice to win,” said Lehman, the only golfer to ever be named the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and TOUR player of the year. “I have to be honest, 20 years from now no one’s really going to care too much about how you won, but a win’s a win.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Recap: Round 2 at the Principal Charity Classic.

Tom Lehman’s track record at the Principal Charity Classic has been consistently impressive.

He’s never placed outside the Top 10 in six previous appearances at this PGA TOUR Champions stop. In fact, a tie for eighth is his worst finish. On Sunday, the Minnesota native would like to finish what he started.

“You better believe it would be nice to win here,” said Lehman, who takes a two-shot lead into the final round after a 7-under-par 65 Saturday. “But there are a lot of good players, and a lot of low scores.”

Lehman’s only bogey of the tournament, at the 18th hole Saturday, gave him a 36-hole score of 131. It’s the lowest 36-hole score since the PGA TOUR Champions event moved from Glen Oaks to Wakonda in 2013. The 65 was also a career low for Lehman in 20 Principal Charity Classic rounds. All 20 rounds have been under par.

That final-role bogey reduced Lehman’s lead to two shots over Bernhard Langer (69), Scott Parel (66), Glen Day (68) and Woody Austin (68). Corey Pavin (67) and Jerry Kelly (68) are tied for sixth.

The field averaged 70.195 strokes in the second round, a low at Wakonda. The previous mark, of 70.519, had been set on Friday.

“There are a ton of guys at eight, nine, 10, 11 under par,” Lehman said. “That’s why that bogey on the last hole is so disappointing. I was trying to separate myself from the field by one more shot. To let the field be one shot closer is frustrating. It makes tomorrow more of a challenge. I’ll have to play another good round.”

A big drive left Lehman just 63 yards from the hole on his approach to the 18th. But his second shot sailed long into a snarly lie in the rough. His chip went 10 feet past and his par putt burned the cup but didn’t fall.

“The bogey was disappointing, but you really can’t let that dictate how you feel about the course or the entire day, or the first two days,” Lehman said. “I’ve played a lot of very good golf. I made a blunder there. But it is what it is. You move on.”

A 10-time winner on the PGA TOUR Champions, Lehman has taken the lead or the share of the lead into the final round nine times. He’s won five of those tournaments.

Earlier this year, Lehman and Langer lost a playoff to Kirk Triplett and Paul Broadhurst at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge. They’ve played as a team in that event for seven years, winning it in 2009.

But Sunday will be man-to-man. Langer has won 37 times on the PGA TOUR Champions. In seven of those victories, he’s overcome deficits of two shots or more heading into the final round.

Langer knows the winning formula.

“Play perfect golf, hit good tee shots, good iron shots, make some putts,” Langer said. “That’s what you need to do. Otherwise, you’re not going to win.”

Langer’s overall track record is not as impressive as Lehman’s at the Principal Charity Classic. Langer tied for 31st in his first visit to Wakonda in 2013. And a tie for 48th in 2015 was his worst finish all season. But he’s learned to play this old-style classic, finishing fourth last season and getting himself into contention again this year.

A victory on Sunday would give him a little Wakonda payback.

“It’s always fun to win, period,” Langer said. “But it’s great to win on a golf course that you’ve struggled with for awhile. It would be very satisfying.”

The Principal Charity Classic is just one of eight tournaments on this year’s 27-event PGA TOUR Champions schedule that Langer hasn’t won. And two of those are first-year events.

Parel has come close to victory on the PGA TOUR Champions this season. At the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, he found himself in a playoff with Steve Flesch and Langer.  Langer bowed out on the first hole. Flesch won with a birdie on the second hole.

“Obviously, I’m going to have to shoot a pretty low score again (Sunday) to have a chance,” Parel said. “If the weather holds in there, I think it will be a great day.”

Lehman, the 1996 British Open champion, will be trying to win on a course he first played as a collegian at the University of Minnesota.

“I feel really comfortable with the course and the ability to shoot a good score here,” Lehman said. “It’s just a matter of whether the score you shoot is going to be good enough to win.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter

Top 10 Moments In Principal Charity Classic History…No. 6: Easy as 1-2-3

Last chance? No, but in the neighborhood.

Jay Haas came to the Principal Charity Classic in 2012 knowing that the window of opportunity was starting to close on his PGA TOUR Champions career.

“My successes have been fewer as I’ve gotten older, but I still feel like I’m capable,” Haas said after a second-round 65 at Glen Oaks gave him a three-shot lead heading into the final round.

It would have been a four-shot lead had former Masters champion Larry Mize not holed a 5-iron from 177 yards for an eagle-2 on the 18th hole.

“I would have been tickled to death with a three, much less a two,” Mize said.

That shot turned out to be no factor in the final result, because Haas was more than capable. He shot a final-round 66 and collected his third Principal Charity Classic title after tying the tournament record of 16 under par established by Gil Morgan in 2006.

“The older I get, I realize this isn’t going to go on forever,” Haas said. “I realize the window of opportunity is closing quickly. I don’t know if I put more pressure on myself because of it. But victories are sweet, and this one tastes pretty good.”

This was the 16th of Haas’ 17 PGA TOUR Champions career victories.

Haas also set a Principal Charity Classic record with his five-shot margin of victory. That erased Nick Price, who won by four shots in 2010, from the record book.

Both Mize and Tom Lehman, who started the final round four shots back, made it easy for Haas to protect his lead during the final round. Mize parred his first seven holes of the final round. Lehman parred his first eight.

Mize provided the only hint of drama when he birdied three straight holes, starting at No 8, to close within two shots. But Haas birdied the 11th hole and coasted to victory.

Even a tournament-record 62 by Kirk Triplett didn’t rattle the eventual winner. Triplett had started the final round in an 11-way tie for 22nd, nine shots back of Haas. He did end up in a tie for second with Mize at 11 under.

“Every time I made a mistake, I came up with a par or a birdie,” Triplett said. “All of a sudden it felt like if I could get a couple more I’d shake those leaders up.”

Triplett’s Sunday heroics led to a $140,000 check, but didn’t make Haas blink.

Lehman shot 68 and tied with Fred Funk for fourth, six shots back.

“I didn’t put any pressure on (Haas) at all,” Lehman said. “It was very frustrating. But Jay played great. He would have been tough to beat.”

With victory pretty much a forgone conclusion, Haas put an exclamation point on his day with three straight birdies, starting at the par-3 14th hole where his tee shot landed a foot from the cup and he coaxed home a 12-foot birdie putt.

“Probably the best shot I’ve hit in weeks, months,” Lehman said.

When it was over, Haas signed his scorecard and collected his third Principal Charity Classic trophy.

“I probably played as well as I have in a long time,” Haas said. “It was a special round.”

By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter