CHARLES SCHWAB CUP
McCarron, Kelly enter Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs as established front-runners in points race
October 16, 2019
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- October 16, 2019
- Scott McCarron leads Jerry Kelly in the points race by 221,430 heading into the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. (Getty Images)
It would be difficult to find two fitter, feistier and more competitive players on PGA TOUR Champions than Scott McCarron and Jerry Kelly.
So it’s only fitting that they rank 1-2 as the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs begin on Friday at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Virginia.
Neither is willing to call it a two-horse race for the cup – both are quick to point out that points are now doubled -- but they have established themselves as far and away the best the PGA TOUR Champions has to offer in 2019. McCarron’s lead in the points race is 221,430; Kelly’s lead over third place is 714, 587.
Really the only thing separating McCarron and Kelly is the fact McCarron played three more events than his counterpart. Each has three victories, one more than anyone else, and Kelly has won more money on a per-event basis than McCarron ($112,724.75 to $107,648.48).
Here’s a tale of the tape:
Scott McCarron Category Jerry Kelly 54 Age 52 5'-10" Ht. 5'-11" 170 Wt. 165 23 Events 20 3 Wins 3 14 Top-10s 12 $2,475,915 Earnings $2,254,485 291.2 Driving dist. 273.2 69.15% Driving acc. 77.15% 69.65% GIR 72.51% 1.764 Putting ave. 1.758 69.39 Scoring ave. 69.34
The scoring average, in which Kelly ranks first and McCarron third, is an appropriate indication of just how close they are as the playoffs begin.
McCarron finished fourth in the Schwab Cup race in 2016, third in 2017 and second last year. He has made no secret of his desire to continue the trend.
“I think it’s just about everybody’s end goal,” McCarron said. “That means you’re probably the best player of the year.
“I’ve been close the past few times. Everybody is out here trying to compete to win a Schwab Cup. If you’re not maybe you should find another line of work.”
McCarron and Kelly played together in the first round of last week’s event, the SAS Championship, which Kelly went on to win. Kelly fired a first-round 68; McCarron carded a 73. Kelly followed with 67 and 65 to win by one; McCarron rebounded with matching 67s to finish in a tie for eighth.
Kelly wasn’t putting any stock in their most recent competitive round together.
“Yeah, that doesn’t really mean much,” Kelly said. “He’s gonna be dangerous any time. He’s a long hitter and he knows how to win.”
Kelly had a non-surgical procedure on his right elbow on Feb. 11 to stimulate healing in a joint. Prior to it he was having trouble holding onto his clubs.
The Wisconsin native attributed his recent run of two wins over his past four events to feeling healthier than he has all season.
“The elbow took almost all year (to heal) because I played through it,” Kelly said. “I’m just feeling stronger. I still haven’t been able to work out like I normally would. Hopefully I can in the offseason and come into next year even stronger.
“When you’re in pain it can actually get you in a bad mental state quicker, and I think that’s what was happening to me.”
McCarron knows Kelly is coming into the playoffs on a run. And that’s a dangerous foe.
“Jerry is playing some great golf right now. He’s peaking at the right time,” McCarron said. “He’s driving it very well, straight, hitting a lot of good quality iron shots, seems to be firing on all cylinders. He’s not a long hitter, but he hits it far enough. And he’s always been a good putter.”
To Kelly’s way of thinking the three playoff courses are all good driving courses that mostly put a premium on playing from the fairway, which could give him a slight edge. But ultimately he figures it will come down to who putts the best and stays away from the big mistake.
Both players sounded like they were reading from the same playbook when asked what it would mean to win the Schwab Cup. They talked about doing what they had done to get to this point, trusting the process and simply having fun.
“I think it would be great to win a Schwab Cup,” Kelly said. “It’s certainly a goal starting out the season and when you reach it you feel pretty good about yourself. But I’m definitely not measuring myself against accomplishments anymore. I think that’s probably why I’m having more fun and it has taken the cap off it a little bit. I have to understand how I got here and not get caught up in any kind of race and just have fun like we always have.”
“If I do my job everything will take care of itself,” McCarron said. “You can’t focus on the prize. Just do what you’ve been doing all year and go have some fun. It’s going to be a tight compeption now between Jerry and me, but someone could go win this week like Kirk Triplett and scoot right up there. With double points its’s still anybody’s ballgame. …
“I’m gonna go out there and give it my best every day. Have fun and look back and no matter what happens know that it was a really good year.”