Haas shooting for fourth Iowa win in his return to Principal Charity Classic

Jay Haas
Getty Images
Jay Haas, at the Principal Charity Classic, is trying to join Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin as the only Champions Tour players to win the same event four times.
By
Luke Meredith
Associated Press

Series: Champions Tour

DES MOINES, Iowa – Jay Haas has experienced unprecedented success in Iowa during his Champions Tour career. 

If Haas can win a fourth Principal Charity Classic title in his first trip to the event's new home, he'll join a pair of Hall of Famers in the senior circuit record book. 

Set to start play Friday at the Wakonda Club, Haas is trying to join Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin as the only Champions Tour players to win the same event four times. 

Haas won in 2007-08 and cruised to a five-stroke win at the Glen Oaks Country Club last spring. He's fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup and tied for second last weekend in the Senior PGA Championship. 

"I don't think of it in those terms. I think of it as, `What have you done for me this week?" Haas said. "But the fact that I could join those two guys in anything that they did would be pretty special." 

But the 59-year-old Haas, the only player to win the Iowa tournament more than once, won't enjoy the advantage of playing a course that suited him so well for years. 

The Iowa event has moved to Wakonda after 12 years at Glen Oaks, save for a one-off trip to nearby Polk City in 2005. The 91-year-old course sits a couple miles from downtown Des Moines, and views of the capital city's modest skyline abound through scores of hill-perched tee boxes, sloping fairways and mature trees. 

Wakonda looks as much like upstate New York as the upper Plains, and the multiple changes in elevation won't make it an easy walking course either. 

Japan's Kohki Idoki, the surprise winner of the Senior PGA Championship in St. Louis last week, won't play this weekend in Iowa. But nearly every other player who has made an impact on the Champions Tour this season will be in Des Moines. 

Haas will play alongside tour leader Bernhard Langer and Mark O'Meara, who has six top-10 finishes in nine starts. Langer has two wins, two second-place finishes and a third this season – but he also has failed to crack the top 10 in three consecutive events. Still, Langer has a 172-point lead over Idoki in the points chase. 

David Frost is third in the Schwab Cup race despite notching his only finishes outside the top 10 in twice in three events. 

One major factor this weekend could be the weather. 

The nasty conditions that have plagued the plains don't figure to clear out for good until Sunday. The weather will likely leave the course playing soft and slow, but Haas said he feels about as comfortable at Wakonda as he did at Glen Oaks. 

"I had some second thoughts, moving from Glen Oaks where I had some great success. But the golf course is in great condition considering all the rain we've had. I love the layout, all the ups and downs, the tightness, all the things like that," Haas said.