Eagles propel Elkington-McCarron to Umpqua Bank Challenge lead at 61


Youth was served, and served up eagles on three of the four par-5s to take the lead Monday at the Umpqua Bank Challenge.

Steve Eklington, 48, and Scott McCarron, 46, the youngest players in the 12-man field, shot an 11-under-par 61 and opened up a two-shot lead on Champions Tour stars John Cook at Jay Haas at Portland Golf Club.

The best-ball event picked up where the Fred Meyer Challenge left off. With Umpqua Bank as the new sponsor, the format and fun returned to Portland again under host Peter Jacobsen.

Jacobsen and his partner, Arnold Palmer, who has played in all 18 Challenges, held up the rear at 1-under 71. Palmer, who will turn 82 next month, helped Jacobsen birdie the par-5 18th.

The fireworks at the 18th came a little earlier, when McCarron holed out from a bunker for a 3.

Neither he nor Elkington is a stranger to "Peter's Party." McCarron and Oregon's Brian Henninger teamed up to win the swan song Fred Meyer Challenge in 2002. Elkington won with Tom Purtzer in 1993.

The Elkington-McCarron duo shot 6-under 29 on the front nine Monday.

Cook and Haas shot 31-32 to lead the team of Nick Price and Mark O'Meara (63) by one shot going into Tuesday's final round.

Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman combined for a 66, and the Ben Crenshaw-Fuzzy Zoeller had a 69..

Monday began with the traditional players' clinic led by Jacobsen. Palmer got two standing ovations, and the entire field was introduced and got to partake in the revelry and comedy

Another twist to the new version of the Challenge was the participation of various Oregon junior golf standouts, who teed off ahead of the pros. The team of Ashlee Pickerell and Cole Sajonia shot 70 in the one-day competition. Tied at 72 were the other groups: Adam Bean-Monica Vaughn, Tess Jennings-Kurt Simmons and Krissy Peterson-Justin Wiles.