McCarron aims to double as host, champ at Reno
Course: Montreux Golf and Country Club (7,472 yards, par 72), Reno, Nev.
Purse: $3.5 million. Winner's share: $630,000.
TV: Golf Channel (Thu., 4-7 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 1-4 a.m., 4-7 p.m.; Mon., 1:30-4:30 a.m.)
Last year: John Rollins won his third PGA Tour title, matching the course record with a second-round 62 and finishing at 17-under 271. Martin Laird and Jeff Quinney tied for second, three strokes back.
With Tiger Woods no longer officially the host of the AT&T National, the only active player on the PGA Tour filling that role is Scott McCarron at this week’s Reno-Tahoe Open, July 15-18.
McCarron, who lived full-time in Reno from 2001-2009 and still summers there, has been active in the tournament for years. But as a rookie tournament director, Jana Smoley, turned to her ace in the hole and asked McCarron to consider a bigger role in the 12-year-old Tour event.
THREE TO WATCH
Vaughn Taylor: The 2004 and 2005 Reno-Tahoe champ is usually a factor here. He’s coming in on a hot streak, too: T-9, T-11 and 6th in his past three events.
James Nitties: The second-year Tour pro nearly shot four straight rounds in the 60s at the John Deere Classic last week. The last time he did so was at the Puerto Rico Open in March when he finished T-3. That was an opposite-event field, too. Bet on him to get in the hunt this week at Reno-Tahoe.
Chris DiMarco: The three-time Tour winner is trying to regain his form. He’s made four straight cuts but hasn’t finished better than T-25 this season.
With the tournament’s new date opposite the British Open, McCarron agreed to forgo the major, which he last played in 2008. In addition to playing in the Reno-Taho Open, his duties are vast and wide-ranging: attending sponsorship meetings; participating in interviews, press conferences; and agreeing to appear in the TV booth after his rounds tournament week; hosting a player-family barbeque the Friday of tournament week; and of course, player recruitment. (His wife is also coordinating family activities.)
“The credibility of him telling our story is big. A locker room chat,” Smoley said. “You can’t buy that.”
Joked McCarron: “At least they may not say, ‘No’ right away.”
It’s tough to turn down the stunning views of the snow-capped mountains in the distance at Montreux Golf & Country Club, the tournament’s only home. The signature “Bear Trap” at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course features a dramatic trio of holes – Nos. 15, 16 and 17 – which will have a big say in who is the victor. Last year, John Rollins went low in the second round, tying the tournament record with 62, and hung on for his third career Tour title.
Could McCarron finally find the winner’s circle amid his myriad duties? He has three top-10s in eight starts at Montreux, including a playoff defeat in 2004. In tournament play, he has 18 under-par rounds in 28 rounds at the course. Victory would make his one last duty – the trophy presentation – that much sweeter.
Said McCarron: “Hopefully, I’ll hand the check to myself.”