McCarron hopes to snap winless streak today | NevadaAppeal.com
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McCarron hopes to snap winless streak today

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

RENO – Saturday is typically known as moving day on the PGA Tour, and Scott McCarron and Graham DeLaet shot themselves into serious championship contention.

McCarron, who was five shots off the lead after 36 holes, shot a 6-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead after 54 holes at the 12th annual Reno-Tahoe Open.

McCarron is at 206, one stroke ahead of John Mallinger (71-207) and Robert Garrigus (73-207). Another stroke back at 208 are DeLaet (62) and Craig Barlow and Rod Pampling, both of whom shot 5-under-par 67s. Chad Campbell, Bob Heintz (72) and second-round co-leader Matt Bettencourt (75) are at 7-under-par 209.

McCarron’s move wasn’t the biggest. That honor went to ex-Boise State star DeLaet, who tied a course record with a 10-under par 62. DeLaet barely made the cut Friday at 2-over-par and now is tied for fourth place.

This is the fifth time in his career that McCarron has led a tournament after 54 holes. He was able to win the title three other times. He would certainly like to finish off what he started. He hasn’t won since the 2001 BellSouth Classic.

“It would be absolutely huge,” said McCarron, a part-time Reno resident. “Not only that, but to win a tournament you’re hosting would be … I can’t even describe it. I’m not going to go there right now. I’m going to hang out on the beach and tee it up again (today).

“I came to the course feeling pretty good. I was happy. We had a great party last night up at Tahoe. We had 80 people on the beach. We were boating around and the kids were on Waverunners. Whether that leads to good golf I don’t know. I feel good about the tournament and how I’ve been playing.”

McCarron was asked what it would take to win.

“Obviously a low score,” McCarron said. “You saw Graham go out there and shoot 10-under today which is a great round. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody went really low again, and hopefully it will be me.”

Like DeLaet, McCarron came out on fire. He had four birdies and an eagle en route to a 30 on the front side which momentarily gave him the lead at 11-under-par. He was 1-over-par on the back nine.

“I kind of made it exciting on the front side to shoot 30,” McCarron said. “I hit a lot of good shots and felt very good. I just missed a few shots on the back. I misjudged the wind on No. 10 and drove it behind the tree on 11. All in all it was a good round.”

On No. 3, McCarron popped a wedge to within 5 feet and dropped in a putt. On the par-5 fourth, he two-putted from 35 feet for another birdie to go 7-under for the tournament. He knocked it stiff at No. 6 and drained another 5-footer for birdie, and then knocked in a 27-footer at the par-3 7th to go 9-under par. He capped off the front side with a chip-in eagle from 39 feet on No. 9 after falling a few yards short of the green with a 5-wood.

“I had 279 something like that,” McCarron said. “I had to decide whether to chip it or putt it, and I decided to chip it.”

McCarron ran into trouble on the back nine when he gave up two shots to par by bogeying the par-4 10th and the par-3 12th. He hit his approach shot into a greenside bunker on 10 and drove the ball into the deep rough on 12.

McCarron righted the ship on Nos. 14 and 15, birdieing both holes to get to 11-under-par. He hit great approach shots on both holes and drained birdie putts of 5 and 9 feet.

On the par-3 16th, McCarron misjudged the wind a little bit. The ball bounced a few feet from the flag and rolled well off the green into some heavy rough. He chipped on and two-putted, dropping back to 10-under.

“That’s 191 yards down there,” McCarron said. “You gotta carry at least 184 (to get over the water). I hit it beautifully. I only hit it a yard or two too far left and I got not a great bounce. I hit a great shot to get it onto the green, I didn’t think I could get it on the green from where I was.”

DeLaet was in the third group out, and the calm weather certainly helped him. He missed a 26-footer that would have given him the record.

“It was just one of those days,” DeLaet said. “I hit a lot of wedges close and I made three or four bombs, it was just one of those days where everything goes right.

“Coming in this week I knew this was a good chance to have a good, high finish and that kind of thing. I figured I would probably be close (to the course record), but when you’re playing you really don’t think about anything like that. You’re just trying to hole it, and it was a little bit back uphill at the end.”

After parring the first hole, DeLaet’s round took off with five straight birdies.

On No. 2, a 171-yard par-3, he knocked his tee shot to 21 feet and drained the putt. On the par-4 third, his approach shot from 99 yards landed 3 feet from the hole and he tapped it in. On the 518-yard par-5 fourth, he two-putted from 40 feet for his third straight birdie.

Great approach shots at Nos. 5 and 6 led to 4-foot birdie putts on both holes. After three straight pars, he got down in two from 22 feet to close out the front side in 6-under-par 30.

The Boise State grad finished strong with birdies at 15, 16 and 17. The surge included putts of 33 and 26-feet, respectively, at 15 and 16. He had a 7-footer for birdie on the par-5 17th.

Mallinger got it to 3-under on the front and 11-under-par overall after birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 9. He also birdies Nos. 11 and 14, but bogeyed Nos. 13 and 18.

“I played the front end probably the best I could,” Mallinger said. “Off the back, I started to get some breeze. I didn’t hit many bad shots; just kind of played the wrong club. With the altitude and wind it’s tough.”

Garrigus also had it to 11-under par after his birdie at the par-5 518-yard fourth hole. However a double-bogey at No. 5 dropped him to 9-under-par. He shot even par on the back, finishing with a bogey at No. 18.

“I should have backed off (at 18),” Garrigus said. “I heard something in the middle of my backswing and just jerked it off the tee. I actually hit a great shot into the green and the putt … it was bouncy down there.

“I really didn’t feel great today. I was just kind of battling. It was tricky today. The wind was tricky. Hopefully I’ll have a good round (today) and get it done.”