Scott McCarron shot a 65 to post his best score in two years.
Steve Stricker continues to make a remarkable return from a mysterious illness.
And John Daly was disqualified after failing to sign his scorecard.
It all made for an interesting second round at the first PGA Tour Champions major of the 2022 season, the Regions Tradition.
Daly shot a 68 on Thursday which marked just his second sub-70 in 19 rounds so far this year. Friday he played the back nine first alongside Steve Flesch and Rocco Mediate and he was 4 under through 11 holes. But he double bogeyed the par-3 seventh and then finished his round with another double on the par-4 ninth for a 72. His 4 under score after two days had him in a tie for 16th before the DQ. It’s the first time he’s been DQ’d from a PGA Tour Champions event.
Stricker, the first-round leader at the Regions Tradition, battled an illness that is still a mystery about six months ago that put him in the hospital for 11 days. The winning Ryder Cup captain is playing in his third tournament in three weeks since his return and has a tie for second and a tie for 10th so far. A win this week would be his fifth major title on the PGA Tour Champions. His second-round 68 has him in the lead again, two shots ahead of McCarron and Padraig Harrington.
For McCarron, this week also marks the return to contention as he had surgery on his left ankle last year. After opening with a 70 on Thursday, he fired a 65 on Friday to tie Stricker for low round of the week so far at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama.
Playing the back nine first, McCarron had four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and then had another on 17 before a bogey on his ninth hole. The 65 is his best score this season by four shots.
“I’m just happy to be playing. I haven’t had many good rounds or tournaments this year, but I’m happy to be playing,” he said. “I’m still coming off of that surgery, the doctor said it would be about a year before I can really go at it, but I’m ahead of schedule and I’m just happy to be out here playing
“Still gets a little swollen so I have to ice it at night, did last night and will this one, take an anti-inflammatory and maybe a cocktail or two and I should
be pretty good.”
This is his ninth event in 2022 and his best finish is a tie for 34th at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in January.
Ernie Els is solo fourth at 8 under after back-to-back 68s. Miguel Angel Jimenez is tied for fifth with Stuart Appleby and Steven Alker at 7 under.
Seeing Alker in the mix is no surprise. Since joining the senior circuit in August of 2021, Alker has 13 top-10s and nine top-5s in just 16 starts. He has also pushed his career earnings on the senior circuit above the $2 million mark.
The New Zealander has two wins and a tie for second in his last three starts. He didn’t play last week so that he could attend his son’s high school graduation but he’s back, doing what he does, climbing leaderboards.
Last week’s winner, Flesch, is in a large group of golfers at 6 under, tied for eighth.