WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Kirk Triplett put together the best round of golf anyone had ever played Sunday in the Principal Charity Classic.
But Jay Haas was brilliant for three rounds instead of one, proving yet again that nobody can dominate the Glen Oaks Country Club like he can.
Haas finished with a 16-under 197 total to win the tournament by five strokes, becoming the first golfer to win the Champions Tour event in Iowa three times.
Haas, the winner in 2007 and 2008, led by three shots after shooting 65 in the second round and made it stand up with a final round 5-under 66.
Haas’ 16-under tied the tournament mark set by Gil Morgan in 2006 and matched the largest victory of the season in the Champions Tour.
“(Saturday) I really played well, but (Sunday) was a special round. And to kind of take hold of it and not give them a chance…that was pretty special,” Haas said.
Triplett set the course record with a 9-under 62 and finished second at 11-under 202 along with Larry Mize. Fred Funk and Tom Lehman tied for third at 10-under.
Haas couldn’t match Triplett’s theatrics. Then again, he didn’t need to.
Haas had built up enough of a lead to be able to play it safe — notching a victory that felt strangely similar to his easy one at Glen Oaks in 2007.
Haas birdied the par-3 second hole for some breathing room, and saved par on No. 9 despite three putts. Haas nailed another birdie on the 14th hole, giving him a four-shot cushion with four holes to play.
Haas capped a brilliant weekend by leaving his tee shot on the par-3 No. 16 within two feet. He tapped in, but a bogey on the next hole kept him from passing Morgan.
“There was no smoke and mirrors. It was good solid golf, and hopefully it will boost me for the rest of the year,” Haas said.
Triplett was playing just his fourth Champions Tour event this year, and a tie for eighth in Tampa Bay in April had been his best finish. He started Sunday in equally unassuming fashion at 2-under, nine shots back of Haas, before playing the best round Glen Oaks had ever seen.
Triplett notched birdies of half of his holes, including a 10-foot putt on the notoriously difficult No. 17 to reach the record low. He nearly went to 10-under, but his long putt on the 18th hole stopped a few feet shy of the cup.
Triplett tied his personal best of 9-under he shot at the Greater Hartford Open and the John Deere Classic in 2000. But the 73 he shot on Saturday doomed him to a tie for second.
“I’m still kind of in shock I guess. I hadn’t really been playing that well. Evert time I made a mistake it came up par, birdie, and then all of a sudden I felt like if I could get a couple more I might shake those leaders up a little bit,” Triplett said.
He certainly did. But while Triplett was waving his famous white hat to a cheering crowd on No. 18, Haas was quietly wrapping up a birdie on the 11th hole.
Haas did make the crowd smile on the 14th hole, known around Glen Oaks as “the beer hole.” Haas’s birdie putt had the gallery in a roar in part because the price of a beer is slashed on No. 14 whenever someone makes a birdie.
The reaction didn’t surprise Haas. He’s made more than a few birdies on that hole and many more in Iowa over the years.
“Every hole just kind of looks good to me. When I stand up on the tee, I see where I’m supposed to hit it. I’m not really uncomfortable on any hole out here, and the greens were at a really good pace this week,” Haas said. “This course just seems to suit me. I don’t know what it is. I just feel comfortable here.”