Iowa Hawkeyes

Sean McCarty earns spot in PGA Championship

Brown Deer head pro/former Hawkeye ties for 2nd at PGA Professional Championship

Sean McCarty
Sean McCarty

Sean McCarty will play in this year’s PGA Championship.

The head club pro at Coralville’s Brown Deer Golf Club from Solon tied for second place Wednesday at the PGA Professional Championship at the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside, Calif. McCarty finished two shots behind Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Neb, who earned the Walter Hagen Cup with his win.

The top 20 finishers in the 72-hole, 312-player event advanced to August’s PGA Championship in St. Louis.

“I just kind of hung in there,” McCarty said. “These are tough courses when the wind picks up. I told (Mac, his son and caddie) we’d just go hole-by-hole and see what happens.

“To play in the PGA (Championship) was on my bucket list and one of my goals this week. Obviously it’s a great feat, and to be here with my son all week. Hey, we’re going to the PGA, so that’s something.”

It will be McCarty’s second appearance in a major tournament. He played in the 2003 U.S. Open in Olympia Fields, Ill., missing the 36-hole cut by four strokes despite a second-round 69.

McCarty, 45, began Wednesday tied for 13th, seven shots out of the lead. The 1995 University of Iowa graduate shot a 4-under-par 68 for a total of 3-under 285.

McCarty began securing his place in the top 20 with birdies on the third and fourth holes. He bogeyed No. 6, but came back with birdies on 10 and 12.

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He was briefly in a four-way share of the lead during his back nine, but Vermeer birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to reclaim sole possession of the lead. Vermeer parred holes 12 through 17 and birdied the 18th to finish two shots ahead of McCarty and Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio.

The win was worth $55,000 to Vermeer. McCarty and Sowards each earned $40,000.

McCarty birdied (and nearly eagled) the par-4 15th hole to pull back within a shot of Vermeer. He reached the green of the par-5 No. 18 in two shots, but three-putted for par.

“That one will hurt me for a while,” McCarty said. But Vermeer’s birdie on 18 meant McCarty’s par there cost him outright second-place, not a tie for first and a sudden-death playoff.

Vermeer was born in Spencer, Iowa. He played college golf at the University of Kansas. He’s the director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha.

This was McCarty’s seventh appearance in this tournament. His previous best finish was a tie for 32nd in 2011.

McCarty was the Iowa PGA Section Player of the Year eight times between 2007 and 2017. He was a three-time individual state-champion for three boys’ golf state-title teams at West Branch High. He helped Iowa to the Big Ten men’s golf title as a freshman in 1992 with a fourth-place individual finish, and was an All-American for the Hawkeyes as a senior in 1995.

McCarty became the head pro at Brown Deer in 2001. In 2016, he became the first men’s golfer inducted into the National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame.

Oh, Zach Johnson finished in the top 20 Wednesday and also will in the PGA. Not the Zach Johnson from Cedar Rapids. This one is from Farmington, Utah. Cedar Rapids’ Zach will be there, too.

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“I have not met him,” Utah’s Zach Johnson said on Golf Channel, “but I’m definitely very excited to get the chance to meet him.”

Iowa’s Zach Johnson tweeted this Wednesday night: “Excited for Iowa boy Sean McCarty ... great competitor and true gentleman. And it looks like the “real Z Johnson” will join us in St. Louis too ... the name says it all.” #Iowans #ZJs

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