Sports

Sean McCarty grabs "bucket list item" in PGA Championship berth

Coralville club pro and son were successful team this week

Sean McCarty watches his tee shot during the 2013 John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. (The Gazette)
Sean McCarty watches his tee shot during the 2013 John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. (The Gazette)

Sean McCarty credited his caddie for a lot of help in earning a PGA Championship berth Wednesday.

“He made some good reads, helped me make some good saves.”

The caddie is 14-year-old Mac McCarty, who happens to be the son of 45-year-old Sean McCarty, the head pro at Coralville’s Brown Deer Golf Club the last 17 years. What a week they enjoyed together at Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside, Calif., on the Monterey Peninsula.

McCarty tied for second place in the PGA Professional Championship, the unofficial club pros’ major. The top 20 players of the 312 entered gained spots in the Aug. 9-12 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

“A bucket list item,” McCarty said from northern California Thursday before flying home to Iowa. “I’d talked to a couple people and said ‘I better get this. I’m not getting any younger.’ ”

No, but he might be getting better. McCarty was the PGA Iowa Section player last year, the eighth time he claimed that honor. He has three wins already this season. But this thing he did Sunday through Wednesday, in which he finished each day in the top 20, was pretty big-time. It was the first time he had a top 20 finish in the event in seven tries.

“It turned out to be pretty good,” McCarty said. “Obviously, my first goal was to make the (36-hole) cut. My second goal was the top 20. The PGA is a nice perk.”

Now McCarty faces the happy reality he’ll be joining Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and the rest of golf’s elite in August. It won’t be his first major. He played in the 2003 U.S. Open after advancing through local and sectional qualifying.

“It’s great the PGA is so close by in St. Louis,” he said. “A lot of people (at home) will be making trip and are talking about it. I have tremendous support back in Iowa.”

There will be little rest before the PGA.

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“I’ll be playing the John Deere Classic qualifier, the Waterloo Open, the Greater Cedar Rapids Open, the Section championship (Iowa PGA Professional Championship) and the Iowa Open before then,” McCarty said. “I’ll keep on my toes and keep the rust off.”

On Thursday he was still ruing a missed short birdie putt on his final hole the day before. He finished two shots behind winner Brett Vermeer of Omaha, Neb. Vermeer, playing behind McCarty, birdied the 18th hole. But had McCarty made his birdie putt at 18, “I could have put a little more heat on him.”

“I misread it,” he said. “I should have listened to my caddie.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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