By LUKE MEREDITH
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Mark Calcavecchia became a fan favorite at the Iowa stop of the Champions Tour last year, winning the tournament in bacon-themed pants.
John Daly's first trip to the Wakonda Club likely will vie for the spotlight with Calcavecchia and the rest of the field.
Daly will make just his fourth appearance on the tour Friday at the Principal Charity Classic. Daly's arrival, along with the Des Moines debut of Miguel Angel Jimenez and a near-perfect weather forecast, is expected to leave the galleries packed for a tournament that's considered among the top non-majors on the senior tour.
Here are some things to watch when the Champions Tour makes its annual stop in Iowa.
Daly had a decent start to his senior career, finishing tied for 15th and tied for 17th in his first two events. But last week at the Senior PGA Championship, Daly shot a 7-over 149 to miss the cut. Daly has yet to shoot better than 2-under par in nine rounds on the senior tour. But his average length on drives in his first tournament last month in Woodlands, Texas, was the third-best of the weekend. Daly was among the best off the tee on the PGA Tour, which could give him a distinct advantage as he moves forward on the 50-and-over circuit.
JIMENEZ IS BACK
Jimenez won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic back in April, his third career victory on the Champions Tour, and two weeks later he finished fourth at TPC Sugarloaf in Georgia. Jimenez hasn't competed on the circuit since then though, opting instead for a stint on the European Tour. Jimenez is back this week, and his group for the opening round should be a fan favorite. Jimenez will be paired up with Daly and Rocco Mediate — who last week became the first golfer to go wire-to-wire in winning the Senior PGA Championship since Jack Nicklaus in 1991.
Series point leader Bernhard Langer will skip Iowa, which isn't surprising given his struggles in this tournament. Langer finished 10 strokes behind Calcavecchia in 2015 and 11 shots back of Russ Cochran three years ago. Woody Austin tops the Principal Charity Classic field among money leaders at nearly $780,000 in 2016.
Jay Haas is just 36th on the money list heading into Iowa, but there's enough history here to suggest that a turnaround could be imminent. Haas is the only three-time winner of the event, having taken it in 2007, 2008 and 2012. Still, Haas hasn't broken the top 10 since finishing tied for fourth in the tour opener, and last week he finished 5-over par in Birmingham, Alabama. Haas shook off a shaky first round at the Wakonda Club last year and rallied to finish at 5 under.
Jesper Parnevik won his first career Champions Tour event last month in Texas, finishing four shots ahead of David Frost. ... Iowa native Jerry Smith was the circuit's rookie of the year in 2015, but he was a non-factor at Wakonda a year ago. Smith shot a final-round 74 to finish tied for 41st. ... Doug Garwood will return to Iowa after an agonizing defeat in 2014. Garwood would have clinched a tour card had he won, but Tom Pernice Jr. beat him with a birdie on the second playoff hole.
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