Triplett, McCarron both eying RTO crown
RENO — The way Scott McCarron sees it, he’s got to be a favorite to win the Reno-Tahoe Open. Not because he’s a Reno resident. Not because he’s a member at Montreux Golf and Country. But because he hasn’t done much all year. And history has shown he’s overdue for some success.
“I’ve always been a guy who makes most of his money in about four or five weeks,” said McCarron, who currently ranks 72nd on the PGA Tour money list with $693, 519 in winnings. “Sometimes it’s the start of the year, sometimes in the middle and sometimes in the end. So hopefully this year it’s going to be at the end of the year.”
The 2003 season has already taken its final turn and McCarron’s best finish was tying for 11th place at the Phoenix Open. That was in January. After missing five straight cuts in May and June, McCarron has made the cut in six consecutive tournaments and is coming off a tie for 11th at last week’s PGA Championship.
“I’m really happy where my game is right now at this moment,” said McCarron, who’s earned more than a $1 million the past two years. “I struggled quite a bit at the start of the year and struggled in the middle part of the year.”
When the first round begins today, most of the 131 other players in the field also believe McCarron has a legitimate shot to win his first tournament since 2001, when he won the Bell South Classic. Kirk Triplett, a 1985 University of Nevada graduate and popular hometown favorite, likes McCarron’s chances.
“A guy who is playing well right now is Scotty McCarron,” said Triplett, who ranks 36th on the money list with almost $1.3 million. “He kind of turned the corner in his game a couple of months ago, lives near by, and has played a lot of golf here. But I don’t think this course favors one kind of player.”
Oh, yeah. Not only is McCarron one of the hottest players on tour, he also has that course knowledge thing going for him. Of course, he thinks that’s overrated.
“Anytime it’s your home course, you obviously play it more than the other guys. Especially here, you are used to the altitude, which always takes a little to get used to,” McCarron said. “But, again, I’m not here that often. I’ve been here for two years and I am starting to learn these greens. And I think the biggest advantage is on these greens. A lot of the breaks are away from Mount Rose going back toward town and it’s just kind of an optical illusion with these greens because of the mountain.
“I was trying to think, I’ve probably played 18 holes maybe five times here this year. Is five times a huge advantage over some guy is going to play two or three already in practice rounds? I don’t know.”
McCarron, who’s currently the 11th best putter on tour, mentioned Triplett as a player to watch this week.
“I’m looking guys more in my age bracket like Kirk Triplett who is kind of a hometown boy, went to school here,” said the 38-year-old McCarron. “He’s been playing awfully well lately.”
The 41-year-old Triplett, whose best finish this year was a tie for second at the Bay Hill Invitational, agrees. But he also realizes that he’s been in position to win several tournaments and has unnecessarily given them away.
“For the most part this year, I’ve had a pretty good feel for the game and found a way to get my scores,” said Triplett, who was a civil engineering major at Nevada. “I don’t want to be hypercritical but I feel like I’ve left a lot out there this year. I’ve gotten in a lot of good positions in a lot of events and ended up with some good finishes. But there was a few times that I feel I should have contended right to the finish.”
Notes…John Daly, one of the tour’s most popular players, pulled out of Wednesday’s pro-am at Montreux. However, the former PGA and British Open champion is still scheduled to show up for his 7:31 a.m. tee time. Daley’s threesome for today’s first round and Friday’s second round should be the most exciting. Daly will play with Argentina’s Jose Coceres and Notah Begay III, who won the inaugural RTO in 1999. Daly’s group tees off on the 10th hole.