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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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry