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Athlete of the Week: Habersham Central's Lee McCoy

POSTED: April 9, 2012 9:43 p.m.

Once Lee McCoy gets his putting under control, the Habersham Central High senior could really be rolling.

Last Tuesday at the Achasta Golf Course, McCoy needed 70 putts to finish the 36-hole tournament, but still was strong enough off the tee and fairway to win the North Georgia High School Classic with a 3-under 141.

“I don’t care who you are, 70 putts is not good,” said McCoy, a University of Georgia signee.

Despite his troubles with the putter, McCoy won the individual honors in the 10-team field with a five-foot par putt on his final hole at No. 9. For winning at Achasta, his fifth win in seven events this season, McCoy is The Times Athlete of the Week.

McCoy won at Achasta by shooting a 69 on the final day, two shots off of his best 18-hole score this season, according to Habersham Central coach Chris Chitwood. After winning, McCoy was still quick to point out he had two putts for birdie lip out on his front nine on the final day.

His saving grace at Achasta was hitting 15 greens each day in position to make par, a number he said was right on track for his season average.

McCoy says that his frustrations on the green at Achasta have carried throughout his first and only high school season at Habersham Central.

“I’ve been hitting the ball like a champ and putting like a dog,” McCoy said.

However, McCoy has rarely wavered in his approach to the green. He says most times he’ll hit his driver between 290-295 yards, but got it up around 320 during a practice round on Monday.

McCoy’s best outing this season was when he put together a 67 at the Big Red Shootout at Chattahoochee in Gainesville. After making par on all nine holes on the front side, he went on a tear and shot 31 on the back nine.

It all started on No. 10.

On the par 4, he hooked his 330-yard tee shot around the trees on the left-hand side of the fairway and came up just five yards short of the green. His second shot with his wedge lipped out for eagle, but tapped in for birdie.

From there, McCoy said it was time to get aggressive. Before the round was over, he had two other wedge shots for eagle lip out, but still carded birdies on both.

“He approaches the game so much differently than any other golfer I’ve ever coached,” Chitwood said. “Even if he does get in trouble, he can get up and down from anywhere.”

One such occasion when McCoy avoided a disaster was Day 2 of the Georgia-South Carolina Invitational at The Orchard in Clarkesville. After a shot out of bounds off the tee, McCoy’s third shot narrowly avoided going out of bounds and landed in the rough. From there, according to Chitwood, McCoy played a shot over a 30-foot tall tree and landed three feet from the cup. He tapped in to save bogey.

McCoy says he’s mentally programmed himself to avoid losing a round on just one hole.

“I hate big numbers, and I’ll do anything to avoid getting one on my scorecard,” McCoy said.

McCoy, who played his first three years of high school golf at Calvary Christian in Clearwater, Fla., said what started the ball rolling was a strong summer season, including a second-place finish at the Royal Lakes Tournament of Champions.

Even though he grew up in Florida, McCoy spent his past three years playing tournament golf in Georgia, since his family owns a home at The Orchard.

McCoy grew up around the University of Georgia program, as he took part in junior clinics and was introduced to Bulldogs coach Chris Haack at a young age.

He’s also enjoyed the new challenge of picking up high school golf and carving out a new legacy for himself.

“It’s been a great transition playing high school golf in Georgia,” McCoy said. “The golf is really strong, and the atmosphere here is much more relaxed than it was in Florida.”


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