Scott McCarron’s final-round 64 on Sunday won’t endear himself in Madison, Wis., upstaging, as it did, Madison’s favorite sons by winning the American Family Insurance Championship.
The tournament at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison was hosted by Steve Stricker, a Madison resident who again threatened to win, but came up two strokes short and tied for third.
Jerry Kelly, a Madison native and resident, closed with a final-round seven-under par 65 and came up a stroke short of McCarron and finished second.
So it goes in the ruthless sport of golf, where a hometown advantage means nothing. McCarron, 52, played a bogey-free round of eight-under par to post his seventh PGA Tour Champions victory.
McCarron, in fact, played his last 40 holes without making a bogey and completed 54 holes in 15-under par 201.
“All week I drove the ball really well,” McCarron said, “and I was hitting a lot of good iron shots and was hitting a lot of greens. I think I made one bogey all week and that was early on Friday on one of the par threes. Missed a short putt. I didn’t really have any opportunities to make bogeys. I just kept putting myself in play and putting it fairly close and I finally putted better this week."
A victory was all that had been missing from McCarron’s 2018 ledger. He had finished in the top 25 in eight of his 12 previous starts and in the top 10 in six of the 12. Moreover, in his last four starts, he has a T5, a T3, a T54 and now a victory, a propitious time to find his form, with the U.S. Senior Open at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., on deck.
"Obviously my game's pretty good," he said. "Just won this week, so I'm pretty happy the way I'm hitting it. I've got to work on my wedge game, I've got to wedge it closer. I have a lot of wedges out here and I'm trying to take a little bit of spin off because I'm a little bit steep and I get a lot of spin. So this week was a challenge with the [greens] being a little soft with all the rain they had, but it's a work in progress so I'm working every week on that."
Kelly, meanwhile, is in peak form, as well, having gone T8, T3, T6 and second in his last four starts.
"I really thought it was going to happen, you know?" Kelly said. "Unfortunately, I wasn't as aggressive as I should have been on 16, 17, 18. I'm disappointed, there's no doubt."
Stricker has now finished third in his event two years in a row. But it extended his streak of top five finishes to six on the PGA Tour Champions this year, including two victories. Given that he also tied for 20th in the U.S. Open the week before, he would likely rank as the favorite at the Broadmoor.
"Personally, played a good round today," he said. "Just got too far behind with that round that I shot yesterday [a 74] and that really put a damper on my weekend, that round yesterday."