It’s safe to say that marriage agrees with Scott McCarron.
“It absolutely is,” McCarron said, smiling at the thought, after winning the Principal Charity Classic Sunday at the Wakonda Club.
Since tying the knot with his wife, Jenny, in late April, McCarron has a victory and a pair of Top 10 finishes in PGA TOUR Champions majors.
“She’s been a phenomenal support,” McCarron said. “She’s seen every shot I’ve hit for the last four years. Hasn’t missed a single one. Even when I was thinking about hanging it up and doing TV she really pushed me and kept me going. I’ve got to hand it to her. She really stuck by me through a lot of difficult times.”
McCarron birdied the final three holes to shoot a closing 65 and finish at 15-under-par 201, one shot better than Miguel Ángel Jiménez (67) and Billy Andrade (68).
There were several key moments along the way, but none were bigger than the 36-foot downhill birdie putt he made on the par-3 17th green.
“That was a biggie,” said McCarron, who played the final 47 holes without a bogey. “I thought 17 was going to be a game changer. Halfway there, I knew it was in.”
But his final birdie, from just inside 10 feet on 18, turned out to be just as important became both Jimenez and Andrade also birdied the closing hole.
McCarron was a bundle of nervous energy as he waited for Jiménez, playing in the group behind him, and Andrade, playing two groups back, to finish. McCarron signed some autographs. Then he put on his sunglasses and stood with Jenny, arms crossed. Then he signed a few more autographs. Then he paced a little bit. Then he did an interview with the Golf Channel. Then he paced some more.
“I’m glad it worked out,” McCarron said. “I’d rather be in control out there, trying to make birdie coming down the stretch. But it was a good feeling. I birdied the last three holes to put myself in that position. I couldn’t do any more.”
Jimenez, trying to win for the second time on the PGA TOUR Champions this year, went up to McCarron after the round, shook his hand, bent over and pretended like he was taking a ball out of the cup. Jiménez saw a lot of that from McCarron down the stretch.
“There’s nothing you can do but congratulate him,” Jiménez said.
Andrade’s rally was really remarkable. He started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead with Todd Hamilton and Joe Durant at 10 under. Andrade bogeyed the first three holes, and fell back in the pack.
But he caught fire on the back nine, making four straight birdies starting at No. 12 and closing with a 5-under 31. Andrade set a tournament record with 21 birdies. He was 13 under par on the back nine in three rounds.
“I’m pretty proud of the way I hung in there after the start I had,” Andrade said.
Six different players had at least a share of the lead during the final round – Andrade, Hamilton, Durant, McCarron, Jiménez and Duffy Waldorf. Durant, Jimenez and McCarron had the outright lead. But in the end, McCarron was the last man standing.
Durant and Waldorf finished in a tie for fourth at 11 under par. Tom Lehman and Rocco Mediate, last week’s Senior PGA Championship winner, were another shot back and tied for sixth. Lehman has finished eighth or better in all five of his Principal Charity Classic appearances.
This was McCarron’s first victory since he won the 2001 BellSouth Classic on the PGA Tour in 2001.
“So this feels good,” McCarron said. “I’ve been playing well. I knew it was coming. I put myself in position. It was just a matter of getting back in the feel again, what does it feel like, how are my nerves under pressure.”
McCarron tied for sixth at the Regions Tradition and was seventh in the Senior PGA Championship leading into the Principal Charity Classic.
And Sunday he was No. 1. He had just one bogey in 54 holes. And a first-prize check of $262,500 to show for it.
By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter