Hard work paying off for McNealy
Maverick McNealy finished 65th on last year’s Web.com Tour money list to earn full status
January 26, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
Maverick McNealy all business inside and outside the ropes
Maverick McNealy’s life is pretty good.
But just because he’s got a car-cool first name and his last name is one of the most influential in technology and business, doesn’t mean he didn’t have to work for it.
McNealy, who is mentioned in the same breath as Tiger Woods when it comes to accomplishments at Stanford University (his alma mater), and whose father Scott sold Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion, is coming into his first full year on the Web.com Tour feeling rejuvenated and re-motivated.
After a celebrated collegiate career at Stanford that saw McNealy tie Woods for the most wins in that program’s history – and saw McNealy capture the 2015 Haskins Award as the top golfer in college golf – he almost didn’t turn professional.
He says at the midway point of his senior season at Stanford, he told his inner circle that he wanted to play professional golf. His father laid out every reason why he shouldn’t, and that made McNealy think long and hard about what he wanted to do.
But he came back a few weeks later and still wanted to pursue golf. So far, it’s been a good decision.
McNealy finished 65th on last year’s Web.com Tour money list to earn full status for this year. He’s made both cuts in 2019 so far and notched a T15 a week ago at The Abaco Club – his best result since last July of 2018.
He says he had a tremendous off-season at his home base in Las Vegas – he lives with Doug Ghim, a rookie on the Web.com Tour this year, and is dating LPGA major winner and fellow Las Vegas resident Danielle Kang – and was anxious to get back to it this year.
“I don’t think there’s much of a way to prepare for a full season of pro golf without playing a full season. I know that sounds like circular reasoning but there are things you can only really learn from doing,” he says. “You see a lot of guys who played (Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada) and (PGA TOUR Latinoamerica) come and be very well prepared for this Tour because professional golf and the lifestyle is very unique, and it’s very different than college golf.”
McNealy says he’s settled into a much better routine for 2019 and with the Web.com Tour returning to a lot of the same golf courses this year, he says he’s more comfortable with everything that will be thrown at him this year on and off the course.
Although it didn’t seem McNealy was having a hard time adjusting to professional golf life – he made eight straight cuts to start his Web.com Tour career – he says he’s happy to be able to choose his schedule this year based on set up, conditions, and courses he likes.
“I’m excited to play some of these tournaments earlier and front-log my schedule and take some pressure off the back end. I wasn’t really in a good mental place or physical place the second half of last year,” he admits.
Now, McNealy says, he feels like himself again. Last year taught McNealy a lot about what works and what doesn’t as a professional golfer, and through December and into early January he says he’s felt “fantastic” in terms of his process as he prepared for this season.
Every week he breaks up his goals into five categories: golf, process, physical, personal, and business. He admits he was working towards only 30-50 percent completion in terms of what he wanted to get done as it related to his weekly goals during the second half of 2018. Throughout the off-season he was up closer to 70-80 percent of what he wanted to do.
“I feel awesome now,” he says.
McNealy is no stranger to some of the biggest stages in the sport, having played three major championships in his young golf career. But he says with a laugh that specifically having played two U.S. Opens just makes him want to play more U.S. Opens – especially this year at Pebble Beach.
“I want to play Pebble Beach really, really badly,” he says. “It’s a carrot at the end of the string and it’s motivating me.
“If I can compete at (the Web.com Tour level) and contend and play the way I want to play out here, that will make it a lot easier to do so at the PGA TOUR level, which will make it easier to do at the major level. I’ve played three majors and haven’t made a cut in any of them. I have a long way to go before I can accomplish one of my career goals of winning major championships so more than anything, it’s motivation.”
But while the Monterey Peninsula isn’t a stop on the Web.com Tour schedule, McNealy says he’s so far enjoyed the travelling aspect of professional golf more than he thought he would.
His father doesn’t pay for anything – the deal with all four of the McNealy children is that their father will pay for three months of room and board while they live at home then they’re on their own – so he’s been enjoying life on the road with fellow Web.com Tour pros and try to increase his status on a variety of rental car, hotel, and airline points programs and he loves the ability to visit a lot of places he never would otherwise go to.
During the LECOM Health Challenge last year, for example, McNealy found a restaurant called Pine Junction which is “really in the middle of nowhere,” he says (the restaurant’s slogan is “part of the fun is trying to find us”) and had the best roast chicken he’d ever had.
“I ate five times there that week,” he says with a laugh.
It’s in McNealy’s nature to give and it’s not just by injecting a local economy after eating out multiple times per week in a certain city.
This year he launched a charity program called Birdies for Education, where for every birdie he makes on the Web.com Tour he’ll donate money to Curriki, a provider of free online educational resources.
Curriki hosts a free library of more than 264,000 online learning materials in all subject areas for educators around the world to use for free for students from kindergarten to grade 12.
The first week on the Web.com Tour saw McNealy garner 55 pledges and raise more than $13,000. His goal for 2019 is to hit 500 birdies and raise $1 million.
The fact that McNealy is able to be in a position to give as much back as he does is a testament to how good indeed his life is.
“I’m either travelling and competing which I love, or I’m at home taking time off which is really fun, because I can do whatever I want and be wherever I want to be which is one of the great perks of our profession, or I’m practicing and getting ready to compete,” he says. “I love what I do. It’s the greatest job on the planet.”
Inside the PGA TOUR
Maverick McNealy looks to training for extra edge