HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — Scott Parel walked off the course thinking somebody would overtake him. Instead, he's halfway to his first PGA Tour Champions victory — and it happens to be a major.
Parel grabbed a one-stroke lead in the Constellation Senior Players Championship, shooting a 6-under 66 in Friday's second round to reach 11 under.
The 53-year-old Parel made seven birdies after starting the day two shots off the lead.
"I've been playing good golf, right there in contention a lot of times," he said. "And that helps. The more you're up there, the more comfortable you are. If you do it once every few weeks, then maybe you get a little bit uncomfortable. But I feel good right now."
Parel remained in the lead when Jeff Maggert three-putted from about 15 feet to bogey the par-4 18th. That left Maggert (68) tied with Brandt Jobe (67) at 10 under in the fourth of five majors on the tour's schedule.
Three-time champion Bernhard Langer (67), defending champion Scott McCarron (68), Kenny Perry (70) and Vijay Singh (67) were in a pack two strokes off the lead. Illinois coach Mike Small shot 71 and was three shots back.
This is just the second time Parel has led after a round in a PGA Tour Champions event. He shared the first-round lead at the 2017 Chubb Classic before finishing tied for 10th.
Parel did not play in college at Georgia, and worked in computers for 10 years before turning pro. He missed the cut in four of his five career PGA Tour starts. On the over-50 tour, he has 13 top-10 finishes in 52 starts. That includes ties for second at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic near Atlanta in April and Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, last month.
Parel pulled ahead even though he was a bit off target with his driver. He finished with a birdie on 18.
"I think if the conditions stay the same, you're going to have to shoot the same kind of scores that I've shot the last two days to have a chance to win," he said. "The course is in perfect shape. The greens are perfect, makeable speed and smooth. So guys are going to make a lot of birdies out here."
Maggert holed out from a greenside bunker to birdie the par-5 15th and reach 11 under. But he finished the round on a sour note, with that bogey on 18 after he gave himself a chance to birdie the hole.
"Trying to leave it below the hole there is a premium, and I just got a little too far above, and the putt trickled by a little bit," he said. "The greens were a little bouncier and choppier this afternoon late in the day with all the traffic from the morning rounds. Anyway, putting feels pretty good, so I'm not worried about it."
McCarron bogeyed three holes, including the 18th. In the Senior Players at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year, he overcame a six-shot deficit to beat Langer and Jobe by a stroke.
McCarron is facing surgery at the end of the season to repair a tendon running through his right ankle. It's been bothering him for about a year and a half, though he said it hasn't impacted his game.
He came into this event with seven top-10 finishes on the season and a victory last month at the American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wisconsin. McCarron then tied for 52nd at the U.S. Senior Open in Colorado Springs.
"I'm playing decent," McCarron said. "Just made a few too many mistakes today, especially the last hole. But I'm hitting a lot of good shots, and I'm putting pretty well. I like this golf course, so I'm certainly in the mix going into the weekend, which is where you've got to be. I mean, you can't go out and win the tournament the first two days, but I've certainly put myself in a good position."
The 52-year-old Small has never won on the PGA Tour Champions. He is not a tour member and made the field because he performed well over three events where he received sponsors' exemptions. He began the day tied with Perry for the lead and remains in contention.
"I'm happy," he said. "I had more hard putts today. Yesterday, I hit it in spots where you can make putts, and these greens are very difficult from that point of view. If you hit it in the correct spots, you can make putts here all day long. But if you just get a foot or two on the other side of that, they're hard to read and they're fast and you're playing defensively."