116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Some competitors in this week’s PGA Championship have flown to Oklahoma in private jets.
Sean McCarty drove the 584 miles from his Solon home to Tulsa, Okla. That was a couple weeks after he drove the round trip to get in two practice rounds at Southern Hills Country Club.
“I like driving,” he said.
McCarty, the director of golf at Coralville’s Brown Deer Golf Club for two decades, hopes his driving and everything else about his game is good Thursday when he competes for the third time in a major championship. His first-round tee time is 12:41 p.m.
A third major? That’s quite an accomplishment in itself for a club pro. Added to it is the fact McCarty is doing it at age 49.
“It’s just a number, I guess,” he said last week. “My body feels good and it’s still fun.”
The only older players in the 156-man field are Rich Beem, John Daly, Shaun Micheel and Y.E. Yang, who are in the field because they are former champions of the event.
McCarty had to qualify for the event on a golf course. He tied for sixth place at last month’s PGA Professional Championship in Austin, Texas, out of a field of over 300 players. The top 20 advanced to join the world’s best players this week at Southern Hills Country Club for one of golf’s four major events.
The West Branch native/University of Iowa grad/Iowa City Liberty High School golf coach/Solon resident played in the 2018 PGA, as well as the 2003 U.S. Open. He had second-round 69s in both. Playing with a shoulder injury in ‘18, he was just three shots from making the 36-hole cut.
“It definitely made me hungrier,” McCarty said. He believes the long course sets up well for him, a long hitter.
“I’ve been feeling pretty decent the last couple years,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll make a run.
“I’ve been there, done it, seen it. I won’t have as much of a wow factor as I did in 2018. The amount of people is obviously overwhelming and it takes a little bit of time to get used to. But I definitely feel way more comfortable.”
McCarty has been a force in Iowa golf dating to winning three state titles at West Branch before he helped Iowa to the 1992 Big Ten men’s golf title. He has been the Iowa PGA Section Player of the Year the last four years, and 10 times overall.
He will go to Columbus, Ohio, June 6 to play in a 36-hole U.S. Open final qualifier. He won last year’s Iowa PGA Professional Championship, which earned him a spot in next month’s PGA Tour John Deere Classic in the Quad Cities.
If McCarty does make the cut this week, he’ll probably qualify to be a member of the United States’ PGA Cup team this year when it competes in England in September. The PGA Cup is a biennial team competition between club pros from the U.S. and Great Britain/Ireland. McCarty was on the U.S.’ winning 2019 team.
And, there’s another possibility on McCarty’s horizon. He turns 50 in September, which means he would be eligible to play in PGA Tour Champions (50 years and older) events if he qualifies for them.
“If the body stays good, we’ll see,” he said. “Hopefully I can make a run at a couple of them.”
But first, it’s playing this week with the McIlroys and Spieths and Koepkas in a major championship, and trying to make Friday’s cut to continue playing through the weekend.
“I know I can do it,” McCarty said. “I feel more prepared for this one than I have in a long time.”
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