Grand Blanc — They live for seeing birdies, folks do, at most Tour events. It's why fans and PGA Champion Tour soldiers have always danced jigs en route to Warwick Hills Country Club, where birdies tend to be so plentiful you wonder if they’re being served at the concession stands.
There was more par-bashing Saturday by the 50-plus crowd as Scott McCarron (63), Tom Lehman (67), and Jeff Maggert (68) rolled into the lead ahead of Sunday’s final round of the Ally Challenge, the first Tour event at Warwick Hills since the Buick Open departed after 2009.
McCarron, Lehman, and Maggert are at 134, a shot ahead of Mark O’Meara, Tom Byrum, Paul Broadhurst, Esteban Toledo, David McKenzie, and Brandt Jobe.
O’Meara birdied seven of his first eight holes Saturday and looked as if he might have something in the '50s in mind.
But he finished with 64, and that put him in Sunday’s fire drill, which is joined by five others at 137, a scant three shots back: Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer, Joey Sindelar, David Toms, and Vijay Singh.
"Made one bogey out there," O'Meara said. "I was never really in a lot of trouble.
"I've been hitting the ball decent the past couple of months, but I just haven't made any putts. The last two days I've rolled the ball better."
The day was hot and humid and a bonanza for Gatorade distributors.
It featured golf to match, with McCarron’s three birdies in his final three holes worth his 63. The final bird was a dazzler as he chipped in on the ninth hole, after he had teed off on the back nine.
McCarron wasn’t thinking birdie. Not after he had knocked his approach long and beyond the putting surface.
“I had 138 from the fairway and I hit pitching wedge, which I can only hit 130," said McCarron, who won last week’s Champions Tour stop, the Shaw Charity Classic. “But got a little gust of wind and it flew like 150.
“But I had a decent lie there. Hit a beautiful chip there and it just rolled right in. Great way to finish.”
Lehman birdied the 18th for a 67, which nicely matched his Friday 67.
“There’s so many guys close, and there’s so many good scores being shot,” said Lehman. “Scores tend to be low here, so there’s the possibility of fireworks (Sunday).”
Maggert shot 68 and was doubly pleased given that Saturday’s pace made some wonder if threesomes of water buffalo had descended on Warwick Hills.
“It was like watching paint dry,” Maggert said. “A lot of standing around, waiting around.”
But he had about the same take on Warwick Hills as did most of Saturday’s celebs who remember this course from their Buick Open parties.
“It’s fun to see the crowds again,” Maggert said. “It’s like old days with the Buick Open.”
Broadhurst was in the lead for much of Saturday but had a rough back nine — missing birdie invitations, bogeying the par-5 13th. Broadhurst, who’s from England, never played Warwick Hills before this week.
“I guess a little bit disappointed,” he said. “Sort of left a pretty low score out there. We’ll give it another go tomorrow, see what happens.”
It was a better day for a pair of Michigan golfers Saturday.
Tom Gillis, of Lake Orion, had a bruising 78 on Friday but made amends with a second-round 70.
Tom Werkmeister, of Grandville, also shot 70 and sits at 142.
Fred Couples, who has had fans in abundance at Warwick Hills, this year and in the past, had a somber Saturday.
He shot 73, which made a mess of his second-round plans a day after he had opened with 69.
“I started driving it in bad spots,” Couples said. “I couldn’t get it out of the trees.
“It’s kind of a bowling alley of a course. Yesterday, I hit almost all the fairways. Today, I didn’t hit many of them, so that’s what you get.”