Brandt Jobe and Scott McCarron were college freshmen at UCLA when they first met, in the parking lot of the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif.
“He was the first guy I met at UCLA,” McCarron said.
They were told to meet in that parking lot by their coach, Eddie Merrins.
“He said, “You’re going to have a game at Bel-Air with this kid from Colorado,” McCarron said. “I drove 61/2 hours from Sacramento, pulled into the parking lot and he was standing right there. I said, “Are you Brandt Jobe?’ He said, “Are you Scott McCarron?’ I said, “Yes, let’s go play. We went out that night, and became best friends forever.”
Both graduated from UCLA in 1988. Both majored in history. They played the PGA TOUR together. They also spent time on the Canadian Tour and the Hooters Tour at the same time. And now they’re on the PGA TOUR Champions together.
McCarron is the defending champion at the Principal Charity Classic, and Jobe is in position to win the same trophy on Sunday at the Wakonda Club.
Jobe shot a six-under-par 66, the lowest round of the day, and is tied for the lead with Glen Day at 11-under 133 heading into Sunday’s final round.
It was a remarkable round in hot, windy conditions. It was also remarkable because after making a double-bogey 5 at No. 9, Jobe ran off six straight birdies. It matched the longest streak on the PGA TOUR Champions this year. Jerry Smith, David Toms and Billy Mayfair all had six straight at the Allianz Championship.
“I just completely screwed up on No. 9,” Jobe said. “That got me pretty hot. So the it was like, “Let’s go, I have nothing to lose.’ You never know when you’re going to make a bunch in a row, but it worked out nicely.”
Day shot a 67, and is the only player in the field without a bogey through the first two rounds. Dating back to the 2016 Principal Charity Classic, Day has a streak of 47 consecutive bogey-free holes. Day also has an active PGA TOUR Champions streak of 48 consecutive holes without a bogey, dating back to the last 12 holes of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Day has hit 33 of 36 greens in regulation the first two rounds.
“Luckily, the greens are still fairly receptive,” Day said. “They’re bouncing, and I think they’re perfect. I think the staff has done a wonderful job with the weather they’ve had because it could have gotten away from them real quick.”
Kevin Sutherland will join Jobe and Day in the final pairing, teeing off Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Sutherland shot a second-round 69 and is at 135, two shots back.
Three more players – Tom Lehman, Steve Flesch and Michael Bradley – are tied for fourth at 136.
It should come as no surprise that Lehman is in contention this week. The Minnesota native has finished eighth or better in all five of his previous Principal Charity Classic appearances. The first two were at Glen Oaks. The last three were at Wakonda, a course Lehman first played as a University of Minnesota golfer in the Drake Relays Invitational.
“It’s a good course for me,” said Lehman, who won his 10th career PGA TOUR Champions title earlier this year in Tucson, Ariz. “I think it’s a good golf course for people who drive the ball well and who are solid and can manage their putting. So it kind of plays into my game typically.”
Bernhard Langer, who shared the first-round lead, had a two-shot advantage after holing his second shot for eagle at No. 4 and then making a birdie at No. 5 to go to 9 under. But he had a season-high five bogeys in a round of 71 and starts the final round four shots off the lead. Langer is coming off victories in the Regions Tradition and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, both majors.
“I wish I was a little closer,” Langer said. “Four back, that’s a lot to make up. But it’s happened before, so hopefully I will play better tomorrow.”
Both McCarron and Jobe finished in the Top 10 at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship two weeks ago. Over dinner and drinks that night, McCarron made a suggestion.
“He said, “What do you think about my putter?’ ” McCarron recalled. “I said, “It stinks. You’ve got to change putters. So he changed his putter this week. And he’s putting great. He should have listened to me a long time ago.”
Jobe said it was his alignment, more than his stroke, that was off. Both McCarron, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR Champions, and his caddy told Jobe the same thing.
“They were not soft on me,” Jobe said. “At the end of the day I realized, “Alright, that stinks.”
Jobe switched to a putter that helps him align the ball much better. The proof is on the scorecard.
Jobe and he and McCarron “had way too much fun together” at UCLA. Now, Jobe wants to join his friend as a winner of the Principal Charity Classic.
“I’ve seen a lot of his game, and his game is good,” said McCarron, who is tied for seventh heading into Sunday’s final round after shooting 67-70. “He’s one of the best players out here. He’s just got to get some putts rolling.”
By Rick Brown, Principal Charity Classic Senior Reporter