Notes from the Champions Tour

Gil Morgan is set to defend his title at the Principal Charity Classic. (Condon/WireImage)
June 05, 2007
PGA TOUR staff

How about those 71-year olds? At last week's Boeing Championship at Sandestin, 71-year-old Bob Charles bettered his age twice (70 and 68) while Gary Player did it once (70). For Player, it was the sixth time this season he's shot his age or better.

You can't keep a good man down. One day after shooting the highest score of his brief Champions Tour career (80), Nick Price turned around to shoot a 63, his best score on the Champions Tour.

Gil Morgan will be looking to successfully defend his title this week at the Principal Charity Classic. If he does, it won't be the first time. Morgan has successfully defended a title four times in his Champions Tour career.

How's this for putting? Rod Spittle one-putted 14 times in his final round last week at the Boeing Championship at Sandestin, including nine one-putt greens in a row at one point.

The Champions Tour's leading money winner, Jay Haas, headlines the list of players making their Champions Tour debut in Des Moines. A two-time winner in 2007, Haas has already reached the $1-million plateau in season earnings. Besides Haas, others playing in this event for the first time are Chip Beck, Donnie Hammond, Peter Jacobsen, Kenny Knox, Jack Renner and Denis Watson.

D.A. Weibring is this tournament's only past champion to have enjoyed some success in defense of his title. The 2004 champion, Weibring lost to Tom Jenkins in a playoff in 2005 and is the only player to finish in the top 10 the following year. Here is how the others have fared: 2001 champion Jim Thorpe (tied for 20th in 2002), 2002 winner Bob Gilder (tied for 14th in 2003), 2003 champion Don Pooley (tied for 66th in 2004) and 2005 champion Tom Jenkins (tied for 23rd in 2006).

Gil Morgan, last year's champ and a runner-up in 2001, leads all players in total earnings, with $486,225, just ahead of Jim Thorpe, with $480,331. Thorpe won in 2001 and tied for second in 2003. Bob Gilder ($427,897), Tom Jenkins (419,279) and Bruce Lietzke ($390,100) round out the top five.

Jim Ahern, who will compete on a sponsor's exemption this week, is the former head teaching professional (1980-85) at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, site of the 1999 U.S. Senior Open. Lonnie Nielsen, a three-time competitor in the tournament, was born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, and graduated from the University of Iowa, where he was a two-time All-Big Ten choice for the Hawkeyes.

In its brief history, the Principal Charity Classic has seen its second-round leader win the event four of six years. Jim Thorpe (2001), Don Pooley (2003), D.A. Weibring (2004) and Gil Morgan (2006) were 36-hole leaders who went on to win. Bob Gilder (2002) and Tom Jenkins (2005) each came from two strokes off the pace Sunday to win.

This week's field includes four former winners of the PGA TOUR's John Deere Classic. D.A. Weibring is a three-time winner of the Quad Cities event (1979, 1991, 1995) when it was held at Oakwood Country Club in Coal Valley, Ill. Dave Stockton (1974/Crow Valley Country Club in Bettendorf, IA), Kenny Knox (1987/Oakwood Country Club) and Danny Edwards (1983/Oakwood Country Club) round out the list.

With his 2006 victory, Gil Morgan became the oldest winner in tournament history at 59 years, 8 months, 12 days. D.A. Weibring became the event's youngest winner when he triumphed two days short of his 51st birthday in 2004.