McNealy going pro? He's preparing that way

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SOUTHPORT, England – The will-he-or-won’t-he? drama that has surrounded Maverick McNealy for the past few years is beginning to die down.

The former Stanford star is nearly ready to announce a decision about his future plans.

“I’m preparing as if I’m going to play professional golf and trying to sort all that out,” he said Wednesday at The Open, which he qualified for as the recipient of the 2016 McCormack Medal, given to the No. 1-ranked player at the end of the amateur season.

“After the U.S. Amateur (in mid-August) is when I’ll have everything in order and know what I want to do.”

McNealy is expected to enter the pro ranks after the Walker Cup in September. He has already received a sponsor exemption into the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open and Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and given his credentials and backstory, he should receive the maximum seven sponsor exemptions allowed to non-members.

McNealy has intrigued observers at the pro and college level ever since he said two years ago that he wasn’t sure whether he’d try pro golf or enter the business world like his father, Scott, the former co-founder of Sun Microsystems.


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McNealy said his game is “trending in the right direction” after a disappointing performance at the NCAA Championship, where he and his Stanford teammates failed to make the stroke-play cut. He said Wednesday that he sprained the SI joint in his back before the third round of NCAAs and experienced shooting pain down his left leg. The last day of his college career “wasn’t a whole lot of fun.”  

After missing the cut at the U.S. Open, McNealy played in last week’s John Deere Classic, finishing in a tie for 44th, his fourth made cut in six career events. He said it was the “most comfortable” he’s ever felt at a Tour event, and he’ll tee it up again in a few weeks at the Barracuda Championship near Lake Tahoe.

This week’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale will be “another good learning experience.”

“It’ll show me how close my game is and give me a better expectation and idea for where that is,” he said. “Whether I play great or poorly this week, it’s not going to change that much. But it’s going to show me what I need to do to play better.”

McNealy said his management science and engineering major at Stanford has proved beneficial as he makes one of the biggest decisions of his life, and he has enjoyed researching different equipment companies and talent agencies. This week he will use a TaylorMade staff bag, but only because his Stanford carry bag isn’t waterproof. (He uses a TaylorMade driver and ball but still plays Nike irons.)

“It’s been fun getting to know everyone in the golf business,” he said.

And soon McNealy will learn so much more.