DES MOINES, Iowa – Champions Tour players are used to seeing low numbers in The Principal Charity Classic. The results from the first round on the tournament's new course suggest that those days could be behind them.
Tom Lehman, Duffy Waldorf, Dan Forsman and Scott Hoch shot 3-under 69 on Friday to share the lead at the Wakonda Club. The Iowa event had been held at Glen Oaks Country Club in neighboring West Des Moines in 11 of the last 12 years.
Wakonda, which was built 91 years ago, has more sloping fairways, higher rough and arguably trickier greens than Glen Oaks. Even though players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways effect because of soggy conditions, low scores were hard to find.
The first-round leading score was the highest ever in Iowa - and every player had at least one bogey.
''It's kind of a mystery course, isn't it,'' Waldorf said. ''You get out here on this course and you go, 'Anything under par looks good'.''
The conditions led to a bunched leaderboard, which also featured four players tied for the first spot for the first time in tournament history.
Waldorf played the front nine in even par before a strong stretch put him atop the early leaderboard.
Waldorf birdied four of the next five holes - including successive sand wedge approaches that landed within 5 feet - to get to 3 under. Though Waldorf had to scramble for pars on the three holes, he was thrilled with his opening round.
''If you had given me 69 before the round I would have said 'Oh yeah,''' Waldorf said.
Forsman's day was defined by an adventurous birdie on the par-5 13th hole.
He hit his drive in the rough, followed by a 5-iron that whacked a tree. He punched his next shot over the green, leaving him about 70 feet from the hole. But Forsman chipped it over a ridge, down a slope and into the cup.
''It's a huge bonus,'' Forsman said. ''And yet, when it goes in, I said to my caddie, ''That's why we hit all those pitch shots this week.' It was tongue-in-cheek, but I was trying to plug that into the subconscious, so next time I'm in that position I'll have a similar outcome.''
Lehman had four birdies on the back nine, including one on No. 18, to pull even with Waldorf and Forsman. Hoch also birdied the 311-yard, par-4 18th, which ranked as the course's second-easiest hole, to reach 3 under.
Haas entered play with a chance to become just the third Champions Tour player to win the same event four times. After a rough start, he put himself in position for a move on Saturday.
Haas bogeyed three of his first six holes, and a 6 on the par-5 15th put him 1 over, but he closed with a birdie.
Langer needed birdies on holes No. 17 and 18 to get to 72 after a nasty double-bogey on the previous hole.
David Frost, third in the Schwab Cup standings, picked up six bogeys en route to a 5-over 77.
Unknown Doug Garwood, who had played just three events on the Web.com Tour since 2005, stunned the field by pulling into a tie for the lead after 14 holes. But Garwood bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes and had to settle for a 70.
Des Moines avoided rain Friday, but there's a chance the course could see some light showers on Saturday.