CALGARY — Scott McCarron likes the sound of being referred to as the two-time defending champion of the Shaw Charity Classic.
“Let’s see if we can make it three,” said McCarron, who carded a final round score of 7-under 63 last year at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club to beat Joe Durant, Kirk Triplett and Scott Parel by one stroke. “It feels good to be back. I like this golf course. Obviously, I’ve played well here of over the last four, five years.”
McCarron’s clutch third round a year ago included a hole-in-one on the par 3, 14th hole that helped him pull off the come-from-behind victory.
“Not very often do you make a hole-in-one and then win by a shot,” said the 53-year-old golfer from Moorseville, N.C., who headed into the final round in fourth spot. “I did bogey the next hole and I know Kirk Triplett and Joe Durant had some opportunities coming in. Joe missed a short putt on 17 and neither of them birdied 18, so it was very fortunate for me.
“I felt lucky to come out on top. I thought for sure we would be in a playoff, so that hole-in-one obviously was the catalyst that put me over the top.”
In order to become just the ninth player to win a PGA Tour Champions event in three consecutive years, McCarron will have to fend off challenges from the likes of World Golf Hall of Famers Davis Love III, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen, who was inducted in June.
“It’s very difficult to win back-to-back, even more difficult to win three times,” said McCarron, who leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings. “I feel like I’m hitting it pretty well. I’ve been able to do that the last two years, put myself in position and play well coming down the stretch, so hopefully we can do that again.”
McCarron, who has and has won three PGA Tour Champions events this season (Mitsubishi Electric Classic, Insperity Invitational and Mastercard Japan Championship), will play Friday’s first round of the 54-hole event on the par 70, 7,086-yard Canyon Meadows layout in a grouping with Love and Jerry Kelly.
“Jerry Kelly’s right on my tail in the Schwab Cup and I’m playing with him and Davis (Friday), which will be a lot of fun,” McCarron said. “Bernhard Langer just turned 62, but he’s not slowing down any time soon. You’re going to have to play some really good golf here.”
Since his mom hails from Kaslo, B.C., McCarron refers to himself as half Canadian.
“Canada has a very special place in my heart naturally with my mom, but I used to vacation up in the Kootenay Lakes and my first professional golf tour was the Canadian Golf Tour,” he said. “It was where I got my first professional experience and it really — this tour, Canadian Tour, now the Mackenzie Tour — prepared me to play on the PGA Tour.”
After winning his first PGA Tour Champions title at last month’s Senior Players Championship, Goosen wants to finish the season strongly in order to rise up in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. He’s currently eighth on the money list behind McCarron, Kelly, Steve Stricker, Parel, Langer, David Toms and Kevin Sutherland.
“You’re going to have to put your foot down in the next few days,” said Goosen, who embarked on his rookie season on the senior tour after turning 50 in February. “I would like to get another win in at least before we start those last few events. Hopefully, if you can play well in those, then maybe pull off winning the Charles Schwab Cup. I need to just get a little bit more consistency going and giving myself chances on Sundays now.”
The 78-player field will also include Aurora, Ont., native David Morland IV and Stephen Ames, who is Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member and former Calgary resident now living in Turks and Caicos.
Morland, who now resides in Palm Coast, Fla., shot 66 at Elbow Springs Golf Club on Tuesday to earn one of four qualifying spots — along with Brian Cooper, Grant Waite and Scott Pieri — to compete in the three-day tournament.