WEB.COM TOUR INSIDER
Better with age: McCarthy finds form in 30s
January 18, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Syracuse, New York native Dan McCarthy won four times on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada in 2016. (Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)
There was a stretch of five tournaments last summer on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada where Dan McCarthy went 1-T6-1-T8-1.
An argument could have been made that it was he – not Rory, Jordan, Jason, Wesley, Lydia or Brooke – who was the hottest golfer on the planet.
And, for good measure, he threw in one more victory (and a runner-up) in two events in September en route to capturing the Mackenzie Tour’s Order of Merit – earning more money than anyone in that Tour’s history – and gaining full status for the 2017 Web.com Tour season.
For McCarthy, who turns 32 this June, he says nothing really changed in 2016 versus years past, but he finally evolved into the professional golfer he knew he could be.
“I definitely got some good breaks throughout the season in the tournaments I did win, but I also played some great golf,” says McCarthy from his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, before he flies to the Bahamas for the second event of the Web.com Tour season. “I got a better handle on my golf swing and how to maintain it. I got a better idea of what happens to me under pressure. I got into the final group a few times the previous two seasons so I remembered what that felt like, which was important.”
A Syracuse guy, through and through.— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) January 18, 2017
Le Moyne grad Dan McCarthy looks for back-to-back top 5s in the Bahamas. ⛳ pic.twitter.com/QW4oC4VCvt
McCarthy sheepishly admits he wasn’t a stranger to winning. Despite the fact he didn’t crack the winner’s circle in a four-day event since his college days – he won upwards of 20 times as a member of the Le Moyne Dolphins, a small college in his hometown of Syracuse, New York (and not exactly a well-known golf powerhouse) – he is a 46-time winner on the Minor League Golf Tour (a mini circuit in Florida).
But now that he’s on the Web.com Tour for the first time with full status – he had conditional status in 2013 but played only two events – he’s not letting the winning expectation creep into his head.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m expecting to win. It’s a new level, a new Tour, and obviously the guys are all great players,” he admits. “Do I expect that I can win? Absolutely. It’s all about giving yourself opportunities.”
McCarthy says with how many events there are on the Web.com Tour – essentially double the amount on the Mackenzie Tour – he feels he can get into contention to win a couple of times.
“There was an inside joke around (the Mackenzie) Tour about how good he was playing,” admits Taylor Moore, who finished third on the money list on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016, and runner-up at Web.com Tour Q-School. “He was just in the zone, and you could tell when you were teeing it up he was right there. He had an ‘X’ on his back thanks to the start he had, and we were all trying to beat him, but he was unfazed.”
Dan McCarthy's one-shot victory at the Freedom 55 Financial
It was a fine start to the year for McCarthy at the Web.com Tour season opener at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, where, despite going through horrific conditions, he finished in solo fourth.
“I was fortunate enough to get off to a good start, so the last two rounds I had the luxury that a bogey or double bogey wouldn’t plummet me down the leaderboard. Everyone was going to make mistakes, so I told myself to brush it off,” he explains with his signature veteran demeanor. “If you told me at the beginning of the week I would have been in the top 5, I would have been very happy. Obviously everybody wants to win, but I was feeling rusty coming off the holidays and that’s a good thing. The goal is to get to the PGA TOUR, and they start the first week of January as well.”
McCarthy knows he’s a bit of an elder statesman on the Web.com Tour, but he doesn’t let that impact his approach to golf, or make him force things.
“Where I’m at right now is the sum of everything that’s happened to me over the last couple of years. Would I have liked to have been out there (on TOUR) four or five years ago? Sure. I’d love to have $7 million in the bank like some of these mid-20s guys right now,” he says with a laugh. “But I think everything that’s happened to me is for a reason. I’m on a pretty good schedule.”
“A lot of people see these guys in their mid-20s and they’re so talented and so good, and it’s almost become the norm for what people think should happen,” he continues. “There are a lot of guys like me that take time to make it, and figure it out on their own.”Would I have liked to have been out there four or five years ago? Sure. But I think everything that's happened to me is for a reason.
Moore and McCarthy ended up paired together a few times closer to the end of the 2016 Mackenzie Tour season, as they were so high up on the money list. Despite the fact they had never met before last year, Moore says he could tell McCarthy was a great player. As the season went on, he bore witness to that even more.
“It just goes to show that the game we play, it can happen at any time. It doesn’t matter if you’re 23, 31 or 40. It can click at any time,” says Moore, echoing what McCarthy says about his own career path. “He deserves a lot of credit for keeping his head down and grinding.”
So how did McCarthy, he of four wins in 2016 and by his own admission right on schedule for his professional journey, manage to prepare for 2017?
Well, he says, he didn’t do much.
He worked on his fitness, which was his main goal. He got a new equipment sponsor for 2017, Srixon (“The first day I hit the irons, I knew I was going to play with them even if I didn’t sign with them,” he says), and otherwise, he just rested and relaxed (save for an appearance at the Aruba Cup in mid-December). He enjoyed not having to go to Q-School to “deal with that whole bloodbath,” he says with a smile.
“I just wanted to enjoy what I had done and get ready for this year coming up.”
Now? It’s time to get to work.
Dan McCarthy interview after win at Cape Breton Open