Many Fuzzy memories over the years at Champions Tour event 2009: Fuzzy Zoeller

Many Fuzzy memories over the years at Champions Tour event

Fuzzy Zoeller will be playing in his seventh Principal Charity Classic golf tournament this week at Glen Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines.

His best finish in the Champions Tour event was a tie for 10th in 2006. But Zoeller's outgoing personality has made him a headliner in a tournament that turns nine years old this week. So hang the fuzzy dice on the rearview mirror as we drive down memory lane and remember an event that played its first official round without spectators in 2001 but has been entertaining greater Des Moines ever since. - - - Zoeller made his first appearance in 2003, and he needed an emergency root canal that Saturday night. Des Moines dentist Bob Margeas was called in to do the job, then gave Zoeller several injections during his round the next day. In 2005, the tournament's only appearance at Tournament Club of Iowa, Zoeller finished his final round on the ninth green. He putted out for a 73, bowed to the crowd and flipped his putter into Burt's Pond. But the greatest Fuzzy moment came during the second round of the 2006 championship. Zoeller pulled a 7-iron on the par-3 16th hole. His ball came to rest on the left fringe for a good 10 seconds, then started to roll and went into the hole for an ace. "Think I'm going to make ESPN's worst shots of the day" Zoeller asked. - - - Zoeller isn't the only character to visit these parts. Jim Thorpe, the tournament's first champion, is another. After winning the 2001 Kroger Senior Classic in Ohio, Thorpe got to Des Moines that night and headed to the casino in Osceola, where he won better then $13,000. Add that to the two first-place checks he collected, and Thorpe's back account grew by more than half a million dollars in eight days. It has brought many of the game's name players to central Iowa. Players like former Masters champion Craig Stadler. In the second round in 2003, Stadler shot the most dramatic 69 in tournament history. He made a triple-bogey at No. 8, eagled the ninth, parred the 10th and eagled the 11th. "That's happened to me a lot of times," Stadler said. "Unfortunately." As far as disaster goes, nothing beats the 2006 tournament, when Loren Roberts came to the 17th hole of the final round with a two-shot lead and walked to the 18th tee trailing eventual winner Gil Morgan by a shot. Roberts double-bogeyed the 17th, while Morgan birdied. In 2007, Jay Haas stood on the upper tier of the fourth green facing a 25-foot birdie putt to a hole cut in the lower tier. If he didn't make the putt, his ball likely would roll off the green. "I would have paid for a 4 walking up there on the green," Haas said. His putt, gaining speed with each revolution, hit the hole and went in. "I was totally shocked," said Haas, who has won the last two titles here. That was the same year that actor Rob Lowe, playing in the pro-am, hit a shot that killed a goldfinch, the state bird. A Principal actuary put the odds of that happening at 240 million to one. But the most amazing thing was that Zoeller wasn't there to witness it.

Christopher Gannon/Register File Photo Fuzzy Zoeller drives the 17th fairway during the second round of the Allianz Championship at Glen Oaks Country Club in 2006.

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