RENO, Nev. – Scott McCarron’s decision to skip the British Open to host the Reno-Tahoe Open on his home course started to make sense Saturday as he shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.
McCarron was at 10 under through three rounds at Montreux Golf & Country Club. He birdie four of his first seven holes before chipping in for eagle on the par-5 ninth, as he bids for his fourth PGA Tour victory and first since 2001.
“It would be absolutely huge,” McCarron said. “To win a tournament that you’re hosting would be – I can’t even describe that, so I’m not going to go there right now.”
Robert Garrigus, who started the day tied for the lead with Matt Bettencourt, bogeyed the 18th to finish with a 1-over 73 and slip into a tie with John Mallinger (71) at 9 under.
Graham DeLaet, a native of Canada in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, tied the course record with a 10-under 62 and was another stroke back along with Australian Rod Pampling and Nevada native Craig Barlow. Both shot 67 in the third round.
McCarron, a former Reno resident who now lives in California, said it was a difficult decision to skip the British Open and serve as the formal host in Reno. Part of the job involves helping to secure the 12-year-old tournament a title sponsor.
“The British Open is one of my favorite tournaments and you can’t win major tournaments if you’re not playing them,” said McCarron, who hosted about 80 people at a beach party about 50 kilometres (30 miles) away at Lake Tahoe on Friday night.
“Playing St. Andrews was something that I certainly was going to miss, but I knew how important it was to the community to get behind this tournament. We need to get a title sponsor to keep this tournament going and the only way to do that, I felt, was to get more involved.”
“I’m very happy with my choice being here,” McCarron added. “Hosting the tournament has gone extremely well and I’ve played pretty well so far, so I’d just like to finish this off.
McCarron has $11.5 million in career winnings, but he’s only No. 134 on this year’s money list with $389,807. The last time he held a 54-hole lead was in 2002, when he finished tied for third at the Nissan Open. The only other times he led after three rounds, he won the BellSouth Classic in 2001 and 1997, and the Freeport-McDermott in 1996.
DeLaet had six of his 10 birdies on the front nine and finished without a bogey for his 62, matching the course record most recently tied by John Rollins during his victory last year.
“It was just one of those days,” said the 28-year-old DeLaet, who only realized he was on pace to break the course record after his birdie try on No. 18 came up short.
“I figured it would be probably close, but when you’re playing so well, you don’t really think about anything like that,” he said.
Stuart Appleby (68), Chris DiMarco (72), Jonathan Kaye (70) and Kevin Stadler (73) were among those another stroke back at 6 under.