McCarthy proves a point at US Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | US Mens Amateur Tour | 2010 US Amateur Championship | General | 30 Aug 2010
Ryan McCarthy secured a top-16 finish at the US Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay, just north of Seattle this week and he returns to Australia better from it.
Following two days of stroke qualification rounds the Tasmanian entered the elimination match-play segment of these championship the 8th seed with stellar qualifying rounds of 74-69.
In the opening match-play segment the Tasmanian native disposed of American Daniel Bowden, 5&4. Friday’s second round had McCarthy, the 2009 Tasmanian Open and Amateur champion, again in solid form accounting for Brent Martin, 3&2.
McCarthy by his own accounts had already exceeded his expectations at the US Amateur, his first, and there was more to come.
He was the only Australian to qualify for the desired low 64’s and ties. Jason Scrivener narrowly missed the plus-6 qualification mark, Texan based Matt Smith finished at plus-8 and the South Korean, Melbourne based, Jin Jeong ended his tournament four off the qualification mark at plus-10 and in a tie for 118th.
McCarthy obviously would have liked to progress further in these championships in Seattle, yet the enormity of his achievement of both qualifying and making the top-16 at the US Amateur in just his first attempt was enough to keep the 21-year-old pleased with the overall result, despite falling tantalising close to progressing further.
“Three weeks ago, I had no idea that I’d be playing an event like this and to get where I got to is very pleasing,” said McCarthy, whose world ranking climbed thirteen places from 68 to be currently 55th in the world as a result of his achievements this week.
This US season McCarthy has played solid golf as is reflected in his numerous top-20 finishes in main US amateur events, including strong results at the Porter Cup, Southern Amateur and Dogwood Invitational.
He’d been close to a low round, yet had been hampered with the odd inconsistent number filling his score card in each tournament. He knew that he had to change his strategy to get closer to the number.
“I came into the US Amateur with a number of top-25 finishes and was not yet in full form,” said McCarthy on Saturday after his match.
“In each event I’d be scoring three solid rounds and then only have a bad one. That was hurting me. It was also frustrating and I went into these championships knowing and thinking that I had to approach my rounds differently and focus more on the course to minimise any mistakes. That was the difference this week as I played the way I wanted.”
Playing the main US amateur events also certainly toughen the 15 odd strong Australian contingent along with McCarthy that traveled the circuit this season here in the US.
No Australian collected a title this tour although McCarthy’s efforts this week, as well as Kieran Pratt’s a few week’s back in Chicago at the Western Amateur, were clearly the highlights of the Aussie effort.
The one thing that resurrects to the forefront from this tour is that all players left the US better from the experiences of playing against the strongest fields in the world, in tournaments that are run no differently to PGA Tour events.
Compared to back home and the associated comfort zone of the Australian amateur circuit where everyone knows each other and the same old faces appear on the leader board, this tour for many of our promising guns revealed how much the Aussies need to play outside their comfort zone to have any chance of making it to the next level. The US is reflective of the survival of the fittest and it’s certainly not for the fainthearted.
Top marks also need to be given to Scrivener, Smith and McCarthy for even giving the US Amateur qualifying a go, not to mentioned making the number to play in arguably what is the toughest amateur championship there is.
This championship, as well as the Western Amateur, is a “must do” for any Australian amateur that has their eyes set on progressing to the next level. It’s a different world and a harsh reality check for those not up to the number. Stay in Australia and you’ll never experience what it’s like to be in the pressure cooker situation which both McCarthy and Pratt experienced this season in the US.
In McCarthy’s case, despite being in the US before, the US Amateur was a real eye opener as to the variances with being on tour.
“My round of 16 match was tough,” he says McCarthy about his 6&4 defeat to the season amateur and the current NCAA Champion, Scott Langley.
“Nothing can really prepare you for an event like the US Amateur. This is tough and the USGA makes the courses brutal. I played solid all week and I thought my practice rounds and preparation were the key to how far I was able to get. Overall, it’s been very pleasing experience and to top it off at the US Amateur finishing in the top-16 was a real bonus.”
McCarthy wants to take his game to the next level and play a professional tour. The events of the last week especially have proven to him that he can compete against the best amateurs in the world. It’s also hardened his thought process, both on and off the course, and that’s certainly a positive thing.
“I’ve a few weeks off now and are going down to the Titleist factory to get kitted out,” he says.
“Titleist have been great supporters of many Aussie National Squad players in the past and I’m looking forward to testing some new equipment. After that, I’m back home for the Interstate Series and ready to give the Australian summer a go.”
In a space of 11 weeks and countless rounds of golf and numerous miles of travel, McCarthy will leave the US a rejuvenated, not to mentioned a better player. That’s life on tour and it’s been an investment for his future.
Experiences in qualifying and making the top-16 at the US Amateur changes things and despite not going the full distance at Chambers Bay, he’s returning home ready for business as usual. It will be certainly interesting to follow how McCarthy fires this Australian summer from theses experiences in the US.
There’s no substitute for experience and McCarthy certainly got that this week as he did battle against the world’s best at the US Amateur.
“I now know that I can compete against the best there is,” he says.
“That’s something that I was unsure off coming into this US Amateur and it’s something that I’ll leave knowing that I can make something from this game.”