McCoy father-son duo both finding success

By Jason SobelOctober 21, 2013, 6:28 pm

When asked to recall his favorite anecdote of golf with his father, Nate McCoy doesn’t list the time they won the statewide Iowa father-son tournament … or their victory at the Pine Valley father-junior … or dad watching as a spectator when he competed in the NCAA Championship at Riviera … or any of their numerous enviable golf trips over the years.

Instead, Nate instantly summons memories from when he was 6 or 7 years old. His dad, Mike, would bring him out to an empty hole at Wakonda Club, not far from their West Des Moines, Iowa, home, where he would drop 10 balls in the fairway some 40 yards from the hole. Young Nate would stand on the green, studying his swing and marveling at how he could play each shot just a little bit differently.

After all 10 were struck, the boy wouldn’t have to walk very far to collect them all up and toss them back to his dad in the fairway, so they could each do it all over again. The swinging and the studying.

“I learned a lot watching him that way,” says Nate, now 23. “That’s where I learned how to play and learned the game, just when I was really young and watching him do his thing.”

The story may not differ much from those of thousands of other fathers and sons, but the end result isn’t so common.

This summer, Mike McCoy finally won a USGA championship at age 50, becoming the second-oldest player ever to prevail at the U.S. Mid-Amateur. And now Nate is trying to walk in his dad’s footsteps to success, breezing through the first stage of Tour Q-School last week.

“I hope the next few weeks go his way,” the father says. “He’s been working awfully hard at it. I’m really hopeful he plays well.”

“I’m super proud of him,” the son says. “It’s pretty cool to see everything come together, just to see his joy of finally completing the goal he’s wanted for a long, long time.”

For those who know their stories, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that neither was present for the other’s recent achievement. While Mike and Nate have spent countless hours teeing it up together, simultaneously playing rigorous competitive golf schedules isn’t exactly conducive to spectating.

And so it was that when Mike won his first USGA title in his 38th try at CC of Birmingham two weeks ago, earning an invitation to next year’s Masters in the process, Nate was already in Florida, practicing for the first stage. And when Nate posted scores of 71-65-64-69 to finish in a share of fifth place and easily advance eight days later, Mike was already back in Iowa, working his job as a commercial property casualty insurance broker at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

They will, though – each one promises – spend a week together in Augusta next April, as Mike has enlisted his son to caddie for him at the year’s first major championship.

“It’s not something we ever talked about,” Mike says. “I don’t know if it’s because I thought time had passed me by or what, but it will sure be nice to have him there.”

With a laugh, Nate adds, “I’m a little more nervous to caddie than he is to play.”

While he admits it would be tough to bypass a Tour event that week should he advance through the next two stages of Q-School, Nate explains that he’ll “probably definitely” still be on the bag no matter what.

It’s the least he can do for the man who first put a golf club in his hands before he could walk.

“When I was crawling on the floor, I had a club in my hand, sweeping it across the carpet,” Nate says. “He got me in so early, it was almost part of my life without me ever deciding it.”

It has remained a part of both of their lives ever since, culminating in success that may not be unprecedented, but certainly isn’t common.

Not every story of a father hitting 40-yard pitch shots to a son meticulously studying every swing results in this manner. But that was never their main goal anyway. The memories mean more than what those practice sessions have wrought.

When told that Nate’s favorite golf anecdote about spending time with his dad goes back to the early part of his formative years, Mike hesitates for a few seconds and chuckles at the memory.

“We spent a lot of time together,” he says. “I’m glad he remembers some of that.”

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.