Thongchai Jaidee conducts Principal Charity Classic
DES MOINES, Iowa – Thongchai Jaidee assured that there will only be one leader after Friday’s first round of the 2021 Principal Charity Classic.
Jaidee birdied the 9th, her last hole of the day, to complete a first round 65 at Wakonda Club, good for 7 cents. He holds a one-shot lead over Dicky Pride and Doug Barron, both of whom are 6 under 66 cards. Six more are 5 cents and six more are 4 cents.
For Jaidee, a 51-year-old Thai man, his 65 years are a career low. He scored an eagle on the 15th Par-5, then bounced off consecutive bogies with three consecutive birdies on the numbers 5-8. He finished with another birdie in 9th place to take the lead on Saturday in the 54-hole event.
Pride – who was paired with Scott Parel, the 2019 Principal Charity Classic finalist – recorded seven birdies that day, including three on four holes between numbers 5-8. If it hadn’t been for a bogey on Par-3 No.14, which was sandwiched between the birdies of 13 and 15, the 51-year-old would have been tied with Jaidee.
Barron put on a nearly identical first round to Pride. The 51-year-old landed four consecutive birdies on numbers 5-8 to move up to 4 under the top nine and also sandwiched a bogey between the birdies in numbers 13 and 15.
But if history has revealed anything, it’s that this remains a tournament for anyone with 36 holes to go.
In 2019, Kevin Sutherland erased an eight-stroke deficit with a course record of 62 on Sunday, then triumphed over Parel in a two-hole playoff.
At the start of the weekend, 12 other golfers are at least three strokes away from Jaidee, including many stars who compete here this weekend.
Fred Couples, a 1992 Masters champion, is five cents after a bug free first round. Joe LaCava, longtime looper of Ken Green, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and since 2011 a certain Tiger Woods, is back on the ropes with a golf bag. LaCava has reunited with couples in Wakonda. The two teamed up for 12 PGA Tour titles, including the 1992 Masters.
Others tied at under-5 are Jerry Kelly, who finished third here in 2019, and Rod Pampling, who birdied four of his first nine holes.
At 4 cents, Bernhard Langer and Jim Furyk, among others. Langer rallied three bogies on his first five holes to score an eagle on Par-5 15 to come back to a tie. He followed up with a birdie at No.18, then three more after the turn. Furyk shot without a bogey and landed three birdies on his second nine to climb to the top of the standings.
Behind them, more stars.
Mike Weir stumbled with two bogeys out of the last nine to finish at 2 under, while Alex Cejka, winner of both senior majors so far this year, finished with two birdies to stay at Weir’s level. Ernie Els sailed a hot and cold lap, where he recorded eight birdies, five bogeys and a double, to finish 1 under.
Jay Haas, a three-time winner here, sat 1-over until a birdie in 15 gave him a tied turn. Vijay Singh went from 2 under to 3 in the space of seven holes (he finished 2 more). Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz shot a tie but was later disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard (rule 3.3b).
Steve DiMeglio from Golfweek contributed to this article.