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Scott McCarron’s unexpected journey to the TimberTech Championship

3 Min Read

Tour Insider

    Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour

    Fred Couples sinks birdie to win SAS Championship

    Before departing the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond after the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, PGA TOUR Champions player Scott McCarron had been informed his Charles Schwab Cup playoffs were over.

    He was told he was the first man out, 55th in the standings for the 54-man field at the TimberTech Championship in Boca Raton, Florida, the second of the three Playoff events. He admits it hadn’t left him in the best of moods. After all, he had won the Charles Schwab Cup in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic, an ankle injury and subsequent major surgery had scuttled his results since. McCarron won three times that season on his way to the top prize on the Champions Tour; in 49 events since his best finish is a solo fifth.

    He was about 40 minutes into his drive home to North Carolina when he got a text from a PGA TOUR Champions official. After some late scoring changes, it was discovered McCarron was in fact 54th.

    “I had had enough time to come to the realization my season was over, and I was looking forward to some time off and I was OK with it,” McCarron said this week. “Then I got the text and I went from being annoyed to being OK I don’t have to play anymore to oh no, I have to go play. Which is great. I’m glad I get to play.”

    McCarron knows it will be a long shot for him to make it to the Playoff finale, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix. He figures anything less than a solo fourth and it really will be the offseason.

    But like he said, when it does come time to rest and regroup for 2023 that will be welcome, too.

    “I didn’t have the season I wanted to,” McCarron said. “I’m one of those guys who has very high expectations and looking back on it I didn’t need to have such high expectations. I need to still be just happy I can play.”

    For the first seven months of 2022, McCarron said his surgically repaired left ankle was tender and often swelled after rounds. Only within the past couple of months does he feel like it’s 100%. And his play reflected that; he had four top-16 finishes over his final eight events. McCarron was one stroke back entering the final round of the SAS Championship just three weeks ago before a final-round 71 left him in a tie for 10th.

    “The ankle is feeling pretty good now,” McCarron said. “It has been a long road. When I look back on this year, for me it was actually a great year because I got to start playing again. You never know if you can play again. For six or seven months, it didn’t feel that great. But for the last month, month and a half … it has been good to get back to swinging.”

    McCarron’s game is predicated on power and putting. He remains one of the longest hitters on PGA TOUR Champions (he’s second in driving distance at 298.2 yards), but his putting average dipped to 19th on tour after reaching a zenith of second in 2017.

    So he said he’ll dedicate part of his offseason to regaining his form with the putter, as well as hitting better iron shots and getting in the best shape he can be to compete week in and week out.

    But make no mistake: McCarron believes that in 2023 he’ll be much closer to the player he was in 2019 than the player he was this season.

    “Absolutely I feel like I can still compete,” McCarron said. “I’m not out there thinking about the ankle while I’m playing anymore.

    “I fully expect to win again. I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t. I’d find something else to do.”