Champions Tour heads to Iowa minus Allen, Chapman
By LUKE MEREDITH
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The golfers playing this weekend's Principal Charity Classic caught a bit of a break.
Senior PGA Championship winner Roger Chapman and points leader Michael Allen didn't make the trip to Iowa.
Chapman, the Englishman who stunned the field with a two-stroke win at Harbor Shores in Michigan last weekend, will play in Spain this week following his first career Champions Tour win. Allen, the only Champions player with a pair of wins in 2012, is playing in a U.S. Open qualifier in California.
Chapman and Allen are about only big names not in the field for this weekend's tournament at Glen Oaks Country Club, which is sandwiched between a pair of majors as the circuit heads to Birmingham next week.
"It's all about winning and giving yourself those opportunities, and certainly the non-major weeks, you have to play well," said John Cook, who is 134 points behind Allen and in second place. "This would be a good week to catch up with (Allen) a little bit."
Perhaps the two most intriguing players in the field are the ones directly below Chapman; Bernhard Langer and Kenny Perry.
Langer was the leading money winner on the Champions Tour from 2008-10 but struggled through an injury-plagued 2011. He has six top-10 finishes in eight starts and a pair of second-place finishes this year. He finished 11th in his only start at Glen Oaks two years ago.
Perry rallied with a 9-under 62 in his final round last week, matching the lowest round ever in a senior major. Perry has three top-10 finishes in seven starts and won at TwinEagles in Naples, Fla., in February.
"I like how I'm hitting the golf ball right now. I'm still struggling with my putting, that's nothing new. That's been the history of my career," Perry said. "This week will all boil down to how I putt."
The defending champion at Iowa is Bob Gilder, who along with Jay Haas is the only player to win twice at Glen Oaks.
Gilder's second victory at Iowa was about as improbable as Chapman's last week.
Gilder hadn't won a senior event in five years and trailed leader Mark Brooks by four shots a year ago heading to the 15th hole. But Gilder birdied his next two holes and Brooks salvaged a bogey after hitting his approach into the water on No. 17, a 467-yard par-4 that's considered the toughest hole on the course.
Gilder then sank a 30-foot putt and Brooks three-putted to hand over what had seemed like a sure victory.
Though Gilder has just one top-25 finish in nine events in 2012, he has to be considered among the favorites. Gilder also won at Glen Oaks in 2002 and has earned more money on this course than anyone else.
But Brooks can take solace in knowing that runner-ups Tom Jenkins and Nick Price both won in Iowa a year later, with Price pulling that off two years ago.
Glen Oaks, which typically ranks as one of the easier courses on the Champions Tour, could play different for each round. Rain soaked central Iowa on Wednesday night and lingered through Thursday's pro-am with temperatures barely cracking 60 degrees.
Although it could be somewhat soggy for Friday's opening round, it's expected to be dry and much warmer by Sunday's final round.
"We start getting warm weather, it starts drying out, you'll see the scores going down," Perry said. "You'll see the scores improve a little bit each day because the weather will improve."
Updated May 31, 2012