McCarthy proves he's worthy of Texas walk-on spot

Last spring, Texas head coach John Fields gave then-sophomore Brax McCarthy a task: Qualify for the U.S. Amateur.

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Brax McCarthy

Fields’ directive was in response to McCarthy’s question about how to earn a spot on the Texas roster. For Golfweek's No. 2 team in the country, it’s standard walk-on procedure, so McCarthy got to work on his game.

McCarthy, of Fort Worth, Texas, missed earning one of three available spots in the U.S. Am at the qualifier at nearby Mira Vista Country Club in early July. Figuring he had missed his chance at being a Longhorns golfer, McCarthy resigned himself to finishing his college career at Texas as a recreational player and a marketing major.

McCarthy spent the summer playing and practicing with buddies at Ridglea Country Club. He played the Texas Amateur (he finished T-38) and the North Texas Amateur (T-10). Two weeks before the start of fall classes, McCarthy got a call from Fields. He had a spot as a walk-on.

It’s at this point in the conversation that McCarthy uses the words “thankful” and “fortunate” at least a dozen times.

McCarthy validated Fields’ decision over the weekend at the Bayou City Collegiate Championship, his second outing as a Longhorn. Playing as an individual, McCarthy opened the 54-hole event with rounds of 67-69 at the par-72 Redstone Country Club in Humble, Texas, site of the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open. He eagled his third hole of the tournament (holing out from the fairway on a par 4), had three birdies in the next four holes and turned in 31. He had a two-shot lead entering the final round but shot 77 to finish T-6.

The last time McCarthy traveled with the Longhorns, to the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawaii earlier this month, he finished T-70 with a 6-over 222 total. Before joining the Texas roster, McCarthy hadn’t played team golf since high school. He played four years for Arlington Heights High School, a 4A school near Fort Worth. He twice was the individual runner-up at the 4A Texas State High School Championship and calls that the pinnacle of his golf career.

“I was definitely nervous,” McCarthy said about getting back into team golf. “High school golf is one thing, but college golf is another level. It’s a weird feeling getting acclimated back to tournament golf.”

In a matter of months, McCarthy went from a recreational player to a competitive scorer on the No. 2 team in the country. Understandably, a professional career has crossed his mind of late.

“I have a lot of work to do to reach that goal, but being on the Texas golf team, I feel like it can only help,” he said.

Back in high school, when McCarthy was applying to colleges, he knew he wouldn’t be happy anywhere but Texas. College golf was an afterthought at that point. But McCarthy’s dad, a fellow golfer, has a favorite saying that’s fitting in this situation.

“My dad is a big believer in everything happening for a reason,” McCarthy said.

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