McCarthy Valiantly Bows Out of US Junior

July 23, 2010 by  

Denny McCarthy (Burtonsville, MD) made his exit today at the US Junior Amateur Championship being held at Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada, Michigan.  He scraped.  He clawed.  He battled his way from the 32nd seed into the semi-finals, including a  3 & 2 victory over Medalist and #1 seed Curtis Thompson to come within two holes of making it to the US Junior final round.  He was matched against Justin Thomas (Goshen, KY) who, because of his two-day stroke play performance was seeded 5th.  Maybe it was the 19 holes he had to go with Richard Jung (Canada) in the morning match to get to the semi-finals.  It’s not likely and he probably wouldn’t admit it anyway.  He is one of the top players in the country and is accustomed to playing lots of golf.  He’s no stranger to this kind of golf.

The match against Thomas was all about two seasoned, elite players not wanting to make mistakes.  The pair went All Square through #8 when McCarthy found an opening on #9 and got to 1-up.  They matched shot for shot for five holes until the 464-yard, par 4, # 15 where Thomas got back to All Square after McCarthy’s four-foot putt lipped out.  McCarthy then made par to Thomas’ bogey on #16 and it suddenly looked promising for the Georgetown Prep (Bethesda, MD) rising senior who has committed to play golf at Virginia in 2012.

Off to #17, the 521-yard par 5, that he had seen five other times in competition this week.  His tally being three birdies, a par and a bogey.  It got interesting here because Thomas’ tee shot hit squarely on the cart path giving the ball a huge bounce and greatly advancing the ball down into the fairway.  From there he got to the fringe, laying two.  Meanwhile, McCarthy found himself towards the back of the green.  Thomas was up and in for a four and McCarthy could not get up and down from his ball position, bringing the match back to even up.

Over to #18 they go.  Again, Thomas finds the cart path but this time he lands in the deepest rough that Egypt Valley Country Club has to offer.  This left him with a blind shot to the flagstick over a nice little hill.  Difficult shot does not describe it.  All the while, McCarthy jammed his approach to just around 6 feet.   Thomas, with a wedge, confidently drew it back and placed what could likely be described as the shot of the tournament as the ball trickled up near the hole for a tap-in birdie.  McCarthy made his putt and they began the loop back to #1, the hole that he birdied in the morning to defeat Jung.  A hole that he had seen eight times during the week making no more than a par (6 pars, 2 birds).  However, this time his approach shot was a tad long taking his ball through the green into similar deep rough that Thomas was in on #18.   He managed to get the ball to within about 8 feet, a nervous distance, especially on the 19th hole of match play.  Thomas, on the green in regulation, was looking at about a 23-footer for birdie.  He two-putted for the par, leaving McCarthy with his putt.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get the roll he wanted and that ended the match right there where it all began at the beginning of the week.

Thomas is no slouch.  He made the cut at the PGA’s Wyndam Championship last year and has won several AJGA events in his junior career.  McCarthy played well all week and will certainly build on this experience.  He still has lots of junior golf to play between now and the fall of 2012 when he enters the University of Virginia.  Coach Bowen Sargent of UVA can’t wait, no doubt.

In the other semi-final match, 14-year old Jim Liu (Smithtown, NY) defeated 14-year old Robby Shelton (Wilmer, AL), 3 & 2.  Shelton was red hot this week.  See the DC Metro Junior Golf article here for more on Shelton.   He used the back nine all week to take out some great players.  And, making the turn All Square it looked like he was going to make his signature move once again.  He won numbers 10 and 11, to go 2-up.  Then, Liu kicked in the afterburners to win the next five holes (including three birds) and the match.

The final stage is set.  A scheduled thirty-six holes of match play.  A long day for both players.  It’s old school.  It’s golf at its purest.  It’s gonna be a good day of golf.  Good luck to both and play well!

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