Lehman returns to defend Iowa title
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Tom Lehman won the PGA Tour Champions event in Iowa last year without swinging a club on Sunday.
Lehman will look for a measure of vindication this weekend at Wakonda Club in Des Moines after finding out he’d won in 2018 while waiting out a weather delay in a local mall. Lehman shot a 13-under 131 total last year in Iowa, two shots better than Bernhard Langer, before the final round was canceled because of thunderstorms.
“Everyone loves to win. There’s no doubt about it, so I’d never trade in a victory for any reason,” Lehman said. “However, it’s a hollow ending for everybody. ... I think part of the deal with golf is to sleep on the lead and then go out and win it.”
Lehman will likely be in the mix to at least prove that last year’s two-round victory wasn’t a fluke though. He has never finished worse than eighth at Wakonda, including a tie for fifth two years ago.
Lehman won the season opener in Hawaii in January and is eighth on the money list.
“I think it plays to my strengths,” Lehman said of Wakonda, a 97-year-old course tucked into downtown Des Moines that ranked as the fourth-easiest on the senior circuit a year ago. “It’s a tricky golf course. You have to keep it in play.”
No one might do that better this weekend than circuit leader Scott McCarron. He has two wins and over $1.3 million in earnings so far this season — nearly $500,000 more than last week’s Senior PGA Championship winner, Ken Tanigawa — and scored his first senior win in Iowa in 2016. McCarron has won nine more times since then. He has also finished in the top 10 in seven tournaments in 2019.
McCarron and Tanigawa, who rallied from three shots down to beat McCarron by one stroke last weekend, will play together again Friday in the opening round. They will be joined by 2017 Iowa winner Brandt Jobe. All three went to UCLA and have remained close friends.
“Having the lead right now really doesn’t mean too much,” McCarron said. “But I can keep increasing that lead, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to go into the playoffs with a big enough lead that I can secure this thing up.”
Langer, who entered the week ranked third on the money list, withdrew Thursday to attend the funeral of his son’s father-in-law. Langer always seemed to struggle at Wakonda, but he’d begun to turn it around in recent seasons. He was fourth in 2017 and finished tied for second a year ago.
Vijay Singh (back) also withdrew from the field.