Forget the clichť about professional golfers being a bunch of dull clones. Touring pro Scott McCarron is funny, intelligent and a heck of an interview.

When you chat with the Sacramento native, it can be hard to have a serious conversation -- and that is a good thing. The man will keep you laughing with his quick wit and relaxed style while also providing insight into his persona and love of golf.

Within minutes of speaking with him, one need not wonder why Scott McCarron is among the best-liked players on the PGA Tour. He credits his father and grandfather helping him become the person he is today.

After his dad introduced him to the game, McCarron quickly rose through the junior ranks and accepted a scholarship from UCLA.

"I was an okay player, but nothing really special and I wasnít having fun. My putting wasnít that great and I just wasnít good enough at the time to go anywhere with it," he said of his time as a Bruin. Still, he graduated with a history degree.

Although the three-time PGA Tour winner has told the stories a hundred times, he still has the patience and sense of humor to explain how he left the game for four years after college to start a golf clothing company named Competitor Golf.

"My dad and I started it but itís not around anymore -- thatís why Iím playing golf," he laughed.

After taking in a Senior Tour event and receiving the inspiration for a long putter, McCarron went full tilt again, taking his game on the road. The itinerant life took him not only onto the California and Golden State tours, but also to the Hooters and Canadian tour.

He also jetted to the Far East in an attempt to qualify for the Asian Tour. Although he missed qualifying, he gained valuable insight into the ways of the world. "It is a whole different way of life over there," observed McCarron.

"Itís a totally different culture, the people are different in the way they live their life Ö everything is so much different than what weíre used to in America and Iím glad I experienced it," he said.

After sessions with sports psychologist Dr. Glen Albaugh, McCarron qualified for the PGA Tour in the autumn of 1994.

"When I first met Glen, I always played golf thinking about my swing," he said. "Glen got me to really trust what I was doing, to focus on the target and just let it go."

Despite the sessions, McCarron, like most rookies, was in danger of losing his status when he arrived in Las Vegas for the next-to-last event of the year. Closing rounds of 64-65 and a paycheck of $102,000 gave him the cushion he needed for 1996.

"It was a huge relief and gave me a new lease on life," disclosed McCarron. "Our first child was due during qualifying school and if I didnít keep my card, I would have to figure out what I was going to do."

He was still finding his way in early 1996 when he arrived in New Orleans for the Freeport-McDermott Classic. Close friends Tim Herron and Paul Goydos had won in previous weeks and McCarron, inspired by the victories, figured it was his turn.

It was.

Dueling with Tom Watson and Davis Love III down the stretch, the veterans stumbled while McCarron shot a cool 71 to win handily by five strokes.

Johnny Miller, disappointed by the wave of first-time winners, wasnít gracious in welcoming Scott McCarron to the winners circle.

"Welcome to the NBC Hooters Tour," announced the analyst.

"Johnny and I go way back," explained McCarron when asked about the cutting comment. "He likes to say it like he feels it and doesnít care what people think. He didnít need to say that but I didnít let it bother me. Johnny and everyone else had to win for the first time and that was mine."

The victory earned him a trip to The Masters where he finished a solid 10th. McCarron isnít fond of recent adjustments to qualifying or to the layout itself.

"I think they have ruined the course now with all the changes such as adding all the length and everything," he said. "It was better the way it was. Itís also a real shame they took the automatic Masters invitation away for winning a tournament. It gave the guys something to shoot for and when I won at New Orleans, one of my first thoughts was that I qualified for Augusta. When I got to the locker room after winning, Davis Love had left a note on my locker welcoming me to The Masters. I know theyíre looking at changing the qualifying back to how it was but they shouldnít take four or five years; they should do it right away."

McCarron acknowledges that it was his second win -- in Atlanta a year later -- that made him feel like he belonged.

"One win doesnít a career make although you do establish yourself as a tournament winner," he said. "Iíve won only three times and want to win a lot more. The big names like Tiger and Vijay make winning look so easy, but it isnít. Winning a tournament is very hard work and so much goes into it physically and mentally."

His second victory at Atlanta in 2001 came despite a pulled hamstring. He was forced to shorten his swing and it proved to be a blessing in disguise.

"I had to slow my swing down, which actually helped," he said. "I wasnít swinging too fast but the change actually made my swing better."

Since that win in Georgia, he has been frustrated with five second-place finishes including a pair of playoff losses -- one in front of a hometown crowd at the 2004 Reno-Tahoe Open.

"Yeah, I wanted that one bad, even though I kind of fell into the playoff," he explains. "Vaughn Taylor came in with a 75 but birdied the first hole and that was it.. I havenít won in a while and I think Iím due for a win."

One runner-up finish he wonít complain too much about is the 2002 WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. Playing against fellow Sacramento native and close friend David Sutherland, McCarron disclosed that the first 18 holes felt more like a friendly practice round until both players realized that someone had to win.

The man with traces of Scotland in his bloodline wants a British Open more than any other title.

"Everything about it is great," he said. "Itís the way golf is meant to be played. The mounds, the bunkers, the wind, and the links make it special. The fans are the best and itís wonderful. I loved playing Muirfield (McCarron finished four strokes behind 2002 winner Ernie Els) and look forward to the Open Championship every year."

An admitted adrenaline junkie; the lively McCarron owns a pilot license, has several parachute jumps to his credit, enjoys fly-fishing, and regularly cruises the surrounding hills on a mountain bike.

"Iíve curtailed a lot of the risky stuff now that I have two kids," he confessed -- undoubtedly providing relief to his family. "But Iíll probably get serious about it again once theyíve grown up and moved out."

The Reno resident also looks to his golfing future with confidence and eager anticipation.

"I think my best years are ahead of me. I still feel young despite turning 39 this year; Iíve been working out and eating better," he said. "I havenít had any injuries and I want to keep it that way. The whole key to winning is getting in position to win as often as possible. There is no reason I canít be around a long time and win a lot more tournaments."

With his love of history and tradition, McCarron was asked what historical figure he would like to meet most. The writer expected the answer to be Old Tom Morris, William Shakespeare, or perhaps Julius Caesar. Instead, he heard the name Marilyn Monroe.

After writer and golfer shared another laugh at the obvious raison d'Ítre, the conversation continued in its humorous, but astute tone, with one of the most engaging personalities on the PGA tour.

Scott McCarron File

 

Born: July 10, 1965 in Sacramento, California

Residence: Reno, Nevada

Family: Wife, Jennifer; Children: Courtney (10/31/95), Cassidy (12/23/97)

Turned Pro: 1992

Joined PGA Tour: 1995

Tour Wins: (3) 1996 Freeport-McDermott Classic, 1997 Bell South Classic, 2001    Bell South Classic

Favorite Food: Steak - medium rare

Favorite Drink: Water, Kettle One

Favorite Movie: Caddyshack

Favorite TV Show: 24

Favorite Teams: San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Sacramento Kings

Favorite Music: Classic Rock

Favorite Book: Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy

Favorite Memory: My kids being born

Favorite Golf Memory: Qualifying for PGA Tour

Favorite Golfer: Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman

Favorite golf course: Pebble Beach

Alternate Career Other Than Golf: NASCAR driver

Best Advice: ďSee it, feel it, believe it.Ē Glen Albaugh