The timing of the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at the Olympic Club couldn’t have been better for former college roommates Ryan McCarthy and Patrick McCormick.
The 25-year-olds, who played at and graduated from Loyola University in Maryland three years ago, have been virtually unbeatable for the last six weeks.
They posted a 6-0 record at the Maryland State Team Matches, which took place throughout April, to lead Baltimore Country Club, to the title. McCarthy and McCormick anchored the team, which included 11 members and a pro, in a 64-club, match-play format that featured three home and three road matches. They were assigned the task of playing every match in foreign territory.
“We beat Columbia [Country Club] in the championship, and I found out on the 17th hole we needed to win the match to win overall,” said McCarthy. “I made a 5-footer for birdie on 18 in front of about 200 Columbia members. I gave a big fist-pump in silence.”
On Monday, it was McCormick who silenced the Day brothers – Benjamin and Daniel – in the Round of 32. He posted a 6-under 28 on the outward nine, with the usual match-play concessions, to help the side build a 4-up advantage. Later, his 2-iron approach from 247 yards on the par-5 17th hole and subsequent two-putt birdie sealed the 2-and-1 victory.
“I was just a backpack today,” said McCarthy. “Pat just played an unbelievable front nine.”
Said McCormick: “It was easy golf. When you are hitting it right where you are aiming, it’s fun to do. I feel so comfortable on the greens. They are so pure.”
While McCarthy, a certified public accountant, is competing in his first USGA championship, it isn’t his first taste of one. He has caddied for brother Denny, three years his junior and an All-American at the University of Virginia, in several championships, including last summer’s U.S. Amateur when he advanced to the semifinals. It not only offered Ryan perspective, it also whetted his appetite to want to qualify for one himself.
That finally happened in October when he teamed with McCormick, a financial advisor, to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball at Argyle Country Club, the venue where McCarthy learned the game.
“We lit that place on fire,” said McCarthy, recalling their round of 62. “When we got through there, we were just so ecstatic.”
Relying on past experiences with Denny prepared Ryan for his first foray in a USGA championship. He carefully studied how his brother developed a strategy to deal with the rigors of championship course setups.
“I told him I was looking at the pin sheet after we were done and every flag is three paces from the right or three paces from the left,” said McCarthy. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, now you know how it feels.’
“The biggest thing for me is … I knew what to do and what to look for. I’m more nervous when I caddie for Denny. I can’t control anything he is doing. I felt really comfortable all day.”
In fact, McCarthy’s most anxious moment of the week didn’t happen at Olympic.A 10-foot putt looks easy compared to a marriage proposal.
On Saturday, after the side signed for an even-par 70 on the Lake Course, McCarthy prepared himself for a life-altering decision. During his junior year at Loyola, he began dating the roommate of McCormick’s girlfriend. The relationship morphed from casual to serious.
Knowing that his soon-to-be fiancée, Jackie Smith, had planned a weekend visit to enjoy the championship and the city, McCarthy devised a perfect manner in which to propose.
A drive across the Golden Gate Bridge would precede a romantic dinner in picturesque Sausalito. Unbeknownst to Smith, McCormick and a few other friends were trailing behind.
“I sent them texts to have their phones ready,” said McCarthy.
Once she said yes, phones came out. Photos and video were recorded.
It was a perfect moment.
Once again, McCarthy and McCormick got their timing right.
David Shefter is a USGA senior staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.