Stein: Remember the name McCarthy
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – It’s normally the U.S. Amateur champion or the runner-up who has a “coming out party” if you will. And sure, Gunn Yang and Corey Conners are both worthy candidates, except for the fact that Denny McCarthy has been in the shadows for so long.
After not being recognized by anyone, it was time for his introduction into the golf world.
Hidden in the shadows of heavy hitters in the class of 2015 – former Stanford standout and reigning Haskins Award winner Patrick Rodgers, former Haskins winner and Alabama standout Justin Thomas, and World No. 1 amateur Ollie Schniederjans – McCarthy is coming full circle with his game.
“I had a lot of people call me this week,” Virginia head coach Bowen Sargent said. “A journalist called and I had this conversation with him about how he never really heard of him. Asking questions like ‘Was this expected?’ and this was just shocking to me.”
PHOTOS: 2014 U.S. Amateur (semifinals)
View images from the semifinals of the 2014 U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Not that his game needed any fine tuning, but with this run at this national championship, people can start to understand what this kid has been doing this for years.
At Virginia and throughout summer amateur golf, McCarthy, 21, has been a staple on top of a majority of the leaderboards he has been a part of.
• He has 17 top-10s in 36 events, which means 47 percent of the time, you’ll find his name near the top of the leaderboard in college tournaments.
• His first two seasons at Virginia, his stroke average was 72.31, then dropping to 70.38 as a junior.
• He finished inside the top 10 in three of four years while attending the Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club; he has played in the U.S. Amateur six times.
Though he’s only captured two victories during his playing career for the Cavaliers, McCarthy has always let his play do the talking for him.
“Clubs do the talking rather talking about himself,” Sargent said of the humbled McCarthy. “He knows to get where he wants to go; he has to do it.”
This week at the U.S. Amateur, it didn’t feel any different. After not advancing past the Round of 64 in years past, McCarthy felt comfortable that his game was ready for whatever was thrown his way. His U.S. Amateur title run came up short, ending in the semifinals, but he took plenty from it.
“I know I have the game to be one of the best amateurs in the world. … I showed flashes of it this week," McCarthy said. “When I putt well, it feeds to the rest of my game. I just get a good feeling with the rest of my game.”
Moving towards his final college season with the Cavaliers, McCarthy has been the captain of the team for the past three seasons and has progressed both on and off the course steadily.
PHOTOS: 2014 U.S. Amateur (FINALS)
View images from Sunday's 2014 U.S. Amateur finals at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Sophomore Derek Bard, who lost in the Round of 32 at Atlanta Athletic Club, said he watched his teammate play in his Round of 16 match, where he came back from 3 down with five to play.
“It taught me a lot,” Bard said. “I was in that same position, but I didn’t handle it as well as he did. He wasn’t rattled, he just believed in himself, and that’s pretty cool to see.”
As for momentum heading into the college season, McCarthy believes everything is on his side at the moment and will set up well for what should be a great ending to an illustrious career in Charlottesville, Va.
“This school year, we’re going to the same places I feel comfortable with and I feel comfortable with my game, and I think that’s a good combination for a good year,” McCarthy said.
As PGA Tour pro Ben Kohles said of McCarthy: “Look for big things from him this year and to finish his college career.”
Remember the name.