Scott McCarron's third year on the PGA Tour Champions has been a successful one.
The 52-year-old has five top-five finishes in 2017, including a win at the Allainz Championship in February, where McCarron clinched victory by draining a 6-foot eagle putt on the final hole. Two of those strong efforts came in majors, and now the California native is on the move again at this week's Constellation Senior Players Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills.
McCarron's 4-under-par 68 had him in the clubhouse at 9-under 135 and in solid position going into the weekend. Players endured two rain delays, the first of which lasted more than two hours, and the second round was halted about 6:20 p.m.
Bernhard Langer held the lead at 13 under, with Corey Pavin two strokes behind and Brandt Jobe three back.
McCarron, who came into Baltimore ranked fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup earnings list ($958,135), birdied five holes on the front nine en route to a 31 and was the first to overtake first-round leader Larry Mize.
McCarron got to 11 under with a birdie on the par-5 12th hole before back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 put him two shots behind Pavin, then the leader. Two pars followed before the first heavy storm enveloped the area and suspended play.
"It was a tough delay, especially coming back to probably, I think, the two toughest holes out here, 17 and 18," said McCarron, who parred them both to cap his round.
He saved par on the par-4 18th after his drive found the water hazard before the green.
"It was a great par on the last hole," McCarron said. "I played really pretty solid golf today."
He won three times on the PGA Tour, but McCarron's most recent victory came in 2001. The over-50 circuit has been a different story — McCarron finished tied for second at the Tradition, one of the Tour Champions' five majors, in mid-May and placed fifth at the Senior PGA Championship the following week.
Langer won both of those tournaments, and he's in the hunt this weekend along with McCarron, Pavin (11 under) and Jobe (10 under) near the top of the leader board.
McCarron said his game is in great shape, and it seems to line up well with Caves Valley.
"This is a golf course that when I came here and played on Tuesday, I just fell in love with," McCarron said. "I think it's absolutely spectacular. We're staying on property, so we've got a lot of good feelings this week."
Playing in the heat, over the hills: McCarron and his fellow players knew what to expect before they attacked Caves Valley, an undulating course of close to 7,200 yards. Toss in summertime temperatures and humidity — and the occasional downpour — and the challenge to play well certainly increased.
"It's not an easy walk out there," Pavin said after his round Friday. "I know my shirt is pretty wet, and I'm not a big sweater. It was warm. The wind was blowing a little bit when we first went back out, and then it just died away. It just became humid and sticky again.
"You're kind of in the mindset to be 4 1/2 hours on the golf course concentrating, and that's kind of your window, and all of a sudden, the middle of the window gets shut and you have to wait and you're never sure when you're going back out. So rain delays are always a little tricky."
How low can they go: There were six eagles carded during Friday's second round, four of which came from players near the top of the leader board.
Scott Dunlap's 3 on the par-5 12th hole helped get him to 7 under before the rains halted play. Dunlap has four holes remaining in his round.
He's tied for fifth place with Ian Woosnam, who notched an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole and was one hole behind Dunlap when the second storm hit.
Tom Lehman (5 under) dropped an eagle putt on the par-4 14th hole, and Rod Spittle (4 under) also eagled the 12th.
Jesper Parnevik and Scott Parel also posted eagles Friday.
Mize struggles: Former Masters champion Larry Mize had put together some decent results lately on the Tour Champions, but he wasn't happy with his swing coming into this week.
Mize sent some video to Dr. Jim Suttie, his swing coach, before Thursday's opening round. Whatever suggestions Sutti made seemed to work, with Mize shooting his best round in four years, an 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead.
Unfortunately, it proved to be a temporary fix.
After failing to make a couple of birdie putts in the first five holes, Mize bogeyed the par-4 seventh and made three straight bogeys on the back nine from Nos. 13 to 15. Mize finally made a birdie on the par-3 17th before finishing with another bogey for a round of 4-over 76.
When he finished play, Mize found himself seven shots behind Pavin after play was temporarily halted.
"The things I'm doing are just not second nature enough. I'm having to think too much out there, and I wasn't able to do it," a frustrated Mize said after emerging from the scoring trailer. "That's what I'm working on, to get the consistency. Just too many loose shots, the putter didn't work well today. The things I'm working on, I wasn't able to do them as well today."
Mize said some of the adjustments Sutti had made started to work again toward the end of the round Friday.
"I played 16, 17, 18 better, which makes you feel a little better coming in," Mize said. "I still believe I can go out and have two good rounds. It was just one of those days when I didn't get away with anything. I've got a few things to work on to get everything ingrained a little more."
Mize will go try to get some of the swing changes fixed before today's third round.
"I get my swing too high and I drop it inside and I get flippy. I'm trying to get it a little flatter and more down the line and less flippy," he said. "Today I was just out of whack. It's getting better, but you're still having to think about it too much. What you want to do is get it to where you just go out and play golf and it's kind of automatic pilot with the swing. My swing is not automatic pilot right now."
Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus contributed to this article.
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