On a weekend where match-play competition dominated the golf scene, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open produced its own one-on-one showdown. Scott McCarron and Kevin Sutherland separated themselves from the rest of the PGA Tour Champions field on Sunday at En-Joie Country Club in Endicott, N.Y., sharing the lead for most of the back nine until McCarron finished birdie-birdie-birdie to close with a bogey-free 64 and win his third senior title of 2017.
Friends since their high school days in Northern California, the duo started the day at 12 under par, McCarron having shot an 11-under 61 on Saturday to jump into contention after an opening 71. Each played the opening nine holes Sunday in four under par, Sutherland holing out from 170 yards on the ninth hole for an eagle.
In search of his first PGA Tour Champions title, Sutherland took the lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, but McCarron made a birdie of his own on the 13th. Both birdied the 16th hole, putting them five strokes clear of third-place finishers John Daly, Woody Austin and Joey Sindelar.
McCarron then showed the closing skills that helped him claim his first career major, the Constellation Senior Players Championship, earlier this summer. It began when he rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th after Sutherland just missed his from 25 feet.
On the par-4 18th hole, McCarron pushed his tee shot into the right rough, but got a drop from an obstruction. After hitting his approach above a canopy of trees to 10 feet, he rolled in another birdie putt that proved decisive when Sutherland made an eight-foot birdie.
“To go low like I did that last couple days,” McCarron, 53, said afterward, “I’ve never played that kind of golf for two days.”
Sutherland, meanwhile, shot a bogey-free 65 and finished at 19 under for the tournament, a score that would have won the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open every year since its inception in 2007 except one.
This year’s finish It adds to Sutherland’s enigmatic history at En-Joie. In 2014, Sutherland shot a PGA Tour Champions-record 59 during the second round at the course, only to finish T-7 in the tournament after shooting a closing 74.
For McCarron, it was fifth of his senior career after winning just three times during his PGA Tour career. He also had a notable runner-up finish to Sutherland when the two played in the championship match of the 2002 WGC-Match Play at La Costa, Sutherland winning 1 up.
This time, he pulled out the “match play” win.
“It was like we were back in high school together,” McCarron said. “It was so much fun.”