Three Things to Know from a Rainy Second Round at Harbor Shores
Two are tied at the top through 36 holes of the 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
After matching 5-under 66s on Friday it’s Stephen Ames and Scott McCarron who hold a two-shot lead over a handful of chasers.
In the group tied for third and sitting at 6 under include the hottest player of the season on PGA Tour Champions, Steven Alker, and the hottest player of the last half-decade or so, Bernhard Langer.
With the Jack Nicklaus signature course holding its own through two rounds – the cut fell at 3 over – here are three things to know as we head into the weekend.
MOTHER NATURE’S IMPACT
The conditions were tricky on the shores of Lake Michigan Friday, with wind and rain making it difficult for anyone to climb the leaderboard heading into the weekend.
“Weather, we teed off, and it was not too bad. 60 (degrees). And then we got to the third hole and I think it dropped 10 or 15 degrees. It was crazy,” said 36-hole co-leader McCarron.
It’s supposed to get pleasant on Saturday and Sunday, but the winds are supposed to kick up again for the final round.
Harbor Shores has yielded plenty of low scores in the past – four of the five lowest Championship scoring averages have come at Harbor Shores, including the lowest of all time in 2016 – but we haven’t quite seen those scoreable conditions yet.
“The guys who shot some good numbers today, Ames and Scotty McCarron, that’s really good scoring this morning because it played tough out there,” said Mike Weir, who is tied for third.
Alex Cejka won the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in his debut a year ago, and now he’s looking to become the first golfer since Colin Montgomerie in 2014-15 to go back-to-back.
Cejka admitted he was both mentally and physically exhausted after Friday’s tough conditions but he’s ready to climb the leaderboard this weekend.
“It’s a tough golf course, tough elements, tough conditions,” he said. “I don’t want to go home and cry about it. I’ve got to take it and just move on.”
Cejka is part of a hearty group of chasers trying to take down McCarron and Ames over the weekend.
It should come as no surprise that both Langer and Alker are in that pack, given their recent resumes. Alker, for example, has five top-3 finishes on PGA Tour Champions this season alone.
Brian Gay, who is tied for third with Weir, Alker, and Langer, is looking to win the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in his debut. Gay, who turned 50 in December, would match Cejka as a winning debutant – the 27th in Championship history.
Three times in the Championship’s history have first-timers won in back-to-back years. Roberto Devicenzo and Charley Sifford did it in 1974-75, Arnold Palmer and Miller Barber did it in 1980-81, and Kohki Idoki and Montgomerie did it in 2013-14.
LEADERS LIVE TOGETHER (THIS WEEK)
In perhaps the funniest of set-ups at Harbor Shores, the 36-hole co-leaders Scott McCarron and Stephen Ames are staying together this week in Michigan.
“We’ll talk about golf and everything else all week,” said Ames of the pair’s dinner plans, “but it’s been a nice commodity we’ve had this week the tee-times have worked, he’s been in front of me all week and leaving the house together and working out and getting ready… it’s been fun.”
McCarron didn’t play from July until December last year after undergoing ankle surgery, but he’s slowly getting back into form.
“I’m getting the strength back, and I’m just very happy to be out here playing golf, to be honest,” he said.
When McCarron won his first major championship on PGA Tour Champions, the 2017 Senior Players Championship, he came from six shots back after 54 holes.
There will likely be no such comeback this time around.
While Ames is trying to win his first major on PGA Tour Champions, it’s no surprise McCarron is playing well, again, at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
McCarron, who has four top-10 finishes at the KitchenAid Senior PGA in his career highlighted by a runner-up in 2019, has the lowest scoring average in championship history. He finished tied for 7th at Harbor Shores in 2016 and tied for third in 2018.