PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
McCarron motivated to defend SENIOR PLAYERS title
July 11, 2018
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- July 11, 2018
- Scott McCarron has seven wins in his past 65 starts and seven top-10s this season. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Scott McCarron arrived in Chicago on Monday for the PGA TOUR Champions Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship with plenty of good vibes.
He is the defending champ. He has two top-five finishes in majors this year. He picked up his first win of 2018 two events ago against a stacked field at the American Family Insurance Championship.
And his regular caddie, Rich Mayo, will be on his bag this week.
At last year’s Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS, played at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore, Mayo rushed to El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday to be with his ailing father, who passed away while the caddie was en route. McCarron ended up using a local caddie, Evan Vollerthum, who had been a caddie at the prestigious Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles from 2010-17.
“Corey Pavin knew Evan and he told me, ‘This guy’s the real deal,’” McCarron said this week as he began preparation to take on Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois. “So we went out in the pro-am [on Wednesday] and three or four holes in I was asking him questions about the course and the greens. I hired him for the week. He was a lot of fun to be around and knew the course very well.”
McCarron fired a final-round 66 to overtake an uncharacteristically bumbling Bernhard Langer and cop his first PGA TOUR Champions major. He then dedicated the victory to Mayo’s father.
The Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS, like four of the five senior majors, rotates courses. McCarron might be defending a title, but he has never played Exmoor.
“I’ve heard good things about it,” McCarron said. “I know it’s a Donald Ross design and I’m looking forward to playing it. Jeff Sluman said I’ll enjoy it and it will set up well for me.”
Increasingly most courses on the Champions Tour set up well for McCarron. He has become a force, with seven wins in his past 65 starts. The only player with more victories in that span is Langer (10). He has seven top 10s this season to go with his win at the American Family Insurance Championship.
“I’ve been in the hunt quite a few times this year, and the win in Wisconsin came against probably the best field we’ve had,” McCarron said, noting the presence of Steve Stricker and Fred Couples, who have played limited schedules on PGA TOUR Champions, as well as Jerry Kelly and Colin Montgomerie. “To come out on top there was a thrill.”
McCarron, who turned 53 on Tuesday, is in his third full season. He has been one of the longest players off the tee since he joined the Champions Tour, but he has dramatically improved in hitting fairways. He ranks fifth in driving distance at 294.6 yards and 25th in driving accuracy at 72.71 percent. And if 25th doesn’t sound that impressive, consider McCarron ranked 60th in 2016 and 54th in 2017.
McCarron also has had some struggles with the putter. His long putter was broken in transit early in the year, and he only recently received one reconfigured to his liking. He was 50th in putting through four events; he has improved that ranking to 25th over his past 10 events.
One of the perks of winning the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS in addition to the payday is automatic entry into THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP on the PGA TOUR.
“That’s absolutely one of the great things about this event,” McCarron said. “A win here gives you the opportunity to test yourself against the best players in the world.”
McCarron admits he built up his opportunity at this year’s PLAYERS and didn’t deliver. He played poorly in round one and missed the cut.
“It was disappointing,” McCarron said. “It’s more incentive to play with the young guys. It’s the Super Bowl of golf tournaments. I would love to have the chance again.”