Last Saturday at the Valspar Championship, University of Georgia senior Lee McCoy found his name on the leaderboard after shooting 7-under over his first 13 holes. But then he hit his tee shot into the water hazard on the 16th hole and crashed back to earth to a double bogey.
A day later, he was elated about that misstep, because it led to a Sunday pairing with world No. 1 Jordan Spieth. That round was special for many reasons, including — as McCoy would learn on the first tee — much bigger crowds.
“I’m certainly not used to playing in front of 10,000 on every shot, plus whoever is at home watching,” McCoy said on the GOLf.com podcast Thursday. “I was really taken back, just standing on the tee.”
“There was an absolute line of people just waiting for us to come down the first hole,” he continued. “There’s not an empty spot on the ropes anywhere. Absolutely surreal. I really do go back to that bogey on 16 on Saturday. That’s an experience that is invaluable for a guy like me.”
Somehow, he stayed calm, surprising himself. McCoy would go on to shoot a final round 69, finishing at 4-under on the course he grew up playing. He discusses that day in detail in the podcast below. He also speaks at length about the patience required to be an elite amateur, the grind of college golf and why he isn’t focused on a professional golf career — yet.
Editor’s note: Within the podcast episode, McCoy discusses how he interpreted a new rule (3-1b) of amateur status, as outlined by the USGA. Unfortunately, McCoy misunderstood the rule. Amateurs, even at USGA events, cannot decide where their prospective winnings (had they been playing as a professional) be distributed. According to the USGA, an individual event would have to approach the USGA for approval beforehand.