One might think the differences between Gainesville and Syracuse, N.Y., would be vast, but Syracuse native Daniel McCarthy believes the two cities have more in common than most realize, especially when it comes to golf.
After finishing tied for 11th in the 2011 event at Chattahoochee Golf Club, the former Le Moyne College standout and 2013 Web.com Tour member earmarked the Milton Martin Honda Classic on his calendar.
“One of the reasons I came back to play here was the greens were very similar to what I grew up playing in terms of the undulations, speed, firmness and stuff like that,” McCarthy said. “The weather is also very similar to spring golf in upstate New York. I’ve played golf in these types of conditions probably more than most people in this field.”
McCarthy overcame firm greens and cold temperatures in the first two rounds to move atop the leaderboard at 5-under par. And when the final two rounds were canceled due to incessant rains, he earned his first victory on the NGA TOUR Pro Series by a single stroke over Seth Fair.
“I was pleased with the way I played,” said McCarthy, who earned $28,000. “I kept the ball in front of me. I didn’t get out of position more than a couple of times, which is very important out here. That’s the reason I played as well as I did.”
McCarthy was one of only two golfers who posted sub-par rounds on Thursday and Friday, shooting a 2-under 70 in the first round and a 3-under 69 in the second round. Over the course of two rounds, McCarthy carded nine birdies, 23 pars and just four bogeys en route to his victory.
“I’m definitely going to throw this into my confidence for the Web.com Tour events that I’m going to get into this season and future NGA TOUR events,” said McCarthy, who earned conditional status on the Web.com Tour this season after advancing to the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School in 2012. “The competition on the NGA TOUR is very similar to what you’re going to see on the Web.com Tour. If you can win on this tour, you can win on that tour, and even win on the PGA Tour.”
Fair, a former All-American at the University of Indianapolis, was the only other golfer in the field to post two sub-par rounds during the Milton Martin Honda Classic. Fair opened with a 1-under 70 on Thursday and closed with a 3-under 69 in Friday’s second round. Fair, of Fishers, Ind., posted nine birdies, 22 pars and five bogeys during the event and finished at 4-under par. Despite coming up just shy of his first victory, Fair’s runner-up finish was a career-best, and his third top-10 finish of the season.
Will McCurdy of Auburn, Ala., also posted a career-best effort in the Milton Martin Honda Classic. The former University of Auburn golfer posted a 3-under 69 on Thursday to earn a share of the lead, but his even-par 72 in the second round left him at 3-under par and in solo third at the finish.
Warner Robins’ Chris Wolfe, who also held a share of the first-round lead with a 3-under 69, posted a 1-over 73 in the second round to slip into a tie for fourth with rookie Trent Whitekiller at 2-under par. After shooting a 2-under 70 on Thursday, Whitekiller, an Oklahoma State alumn from Sallisaw, Okla., carded an even-par 72 in the second round. Wolfe, a former Armstrong Atlantic State University golfer, matched his career-best finish with his tie for fourth, while Whitekiller claimed his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
Jack Newman, the 2008 U.S. Public Links champion from Des Moines, Iowa, carded rounds of 73 and 70 to finish at 1-under par and tied for sixth with Kent Bulle (Glasgow, Ky.), Andrew Medley (Athens, Ala.) and Will Mitchell (Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada).
Through the first five events of the NGA Tour season, five first-time winners have been crowned. Past NGA Tour winners Justin Lower (Canal Fulton, Ohio) and Chas Narramore (Kingston, Tenn.) hoped to break that streak this week, but the duo had to settle for a share of 10th place with Patton Kizzire (St. Simons Island) and Tyler Brown (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) at even par.
The NGA Tour will return to action with the playing of the NeSmith Chevrolet Classic at Sapelo Hammock Golf Club in Shellman Bluff on April 1-7.