Things were finally starting to look up for Lee McCoy.
After a rough start to his pro career, he made the cut last week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, tying for 41st. It was the first paycheck he’d earned since turning pro in June.
Now came the second stage of Web.com Tour Q-School, scheduled to begin Tuesday at three sites across the country. It’s a pivotal checkpoint for any tour hopeful – advance to the finals and gain some kind of Web.com status, or get left in a competitive no-man’s land, having to rely on Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions.
But on Monday morning, after flying across the country, McCoy was on his way to Plantation Reserve Golf Club in South Florida when he was involved in a minor car accident. His right wrist crunched into the steering wheel at impact, fracturing in two places. An hour passed before he noticed the swollen bump on his right hand.
McCoy visited the doctor, hoping for a quick fix that would allow him to play in the four-round qualifier. For two hours, they tried to mold a cast that put his right wrist in the proper position to swing, but he couldn’t wrap more than three fingers around the club.
“There was just no way,” he said by phone Tuesday morning. “I wasn’t going to go out there and risk hurting it further. Plus, the odds of me playing competitively with a cast and one hand were slim anyway.”
And so, on Tuesday, he withdrew from second stage, leaving his immediate future in doubt.
“The sad part is you put in so much work for one thing,” he said, “so it’s disappointing to see it all end that way. There’s going to be a lot of people who are disappointed after this week, but it’s an easier pill to swallow playing bad golf instead of not even teeing it up.”
McCoy was one of the top-ranked amateurs in the world and a first-team All-American at Georgia, where he earned seven career victories, one shy of the school record. In March, he played the final round of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship alongside Jordan Spieth and tied for fourth. He didn’t receive any FedEx Cup points for that performance, and he decided to stay in school for the remainder of his senior season.
When he turned pro, after the NCAAs in June, his game wasn’t as sharp, and McCoy missed his first eight cuts on the PGA and European tours.
“Obviously there’s a bit of a learning curve,” he said. “But all of the stuff on the learning curve would have taken care of itself if I was hitting it well and putting well. Just another case of bad timing, I guess. I couldn’t really get it figured out.”
Too reliant on a swing coach, McCoy went back to his roots, working on his game alone on the range at home in Jupiter, Fla. He was striping it when he made the trip last week to Vegas, where he played on a sponsor exemption. A third-round 67 positioned him for a decent showing.
“I took a lot of positives out of that,” he said. “I was looking forward to building on that.”
And then Monday’s accident happened.
The injury won’t require surgery, but McCoy likely will be sidelined for the next 6-to-8 weeks. Without Web.com status, his only options next year are Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions; the Mackenzie (Canadian) and Latinoamerica circuits are also an option, but their seasons don’t begin in earnest until spring.
“It won’t be a career-altering type of thing,” he said. “I’ll make it work somehow.”