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McNealy (66) determined to find his swing, swing for fences

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Maverick McNealy opened the Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am with a 6-under 66 Thursday at The Cliffs Valley in Greer, S.C., and sits just two shots off the lead shared by Vince Covello and Matt Harmon.

On the surface, it would appear that McNealy had everything clicking, making 10 one-putts, missing just four greens and four fairways, and carding only a single bogey. But after his round – his best since shooting 66 in the second round of the Savannah Golf Championship in March – McNealy told reporters that he arranged some time with his instructor, Alex Murray, at next week’s Lincoln Land Championship in Springfield, Ill.

“We're planning on completely rebuilding and making the golf swing what we want it to be,” McNealy said.

Why the midseason fix? McNealy ranks outside the top 115 on the Tour in driving accuracy and greens in regulation. He isn’t comfortable hitting a variety of shots and has struggled with consistency, going through stretches where he’ll hit it “awesome” and then stretches where, well, he doesn't.

“I’d like to know why things go right or wrong,” McNealy told via phone Thursday. “There are periods of time as a pro golfer where you’re just a little bit lost and you’re hearing a ton of input from a ton of people, and everyone wants to help out, and I don’t really know what to do. At this point, I’m just looking to narrow down and simplify the input I have coming in and create a clear path forward and execute on that.”

Full-field scores from the BMW Charity Pro-Am

McNealy struggled with his swing during the spring semester of his senior year at Stanford. He and Murray, his swing coach since eighth grade, revived McNealy’s swing by breaking it down to the fundamentals.

On Thursday, McNealy focused on balance, rhythm and finding the center of the club face. Cliffs Valley, however, is a forgiving course from tee to green, and McNealy helped matters by “blacking out” with the putter, something he’s done frequently this season.

He knows he can’t rely this heavily on his short game.

“I’m not out here to try and grind out cuts,” McNealy said. “If you’re scraping out cuts and finishing 50th, you’re doing nothing for yourself except for tiring yourself out. … The way the Tour point system is structured, you have to swing for the fences. I want to be putting myself in contention, and I’m not at that point right now, really. I don’t feel like I can put myself in contention often enough without going bananas with the putter.”

With nine events left in the regular season after this week, McNealy sits 25th on the Tour points list. That is largely a byproduct of McNealy’s runner-up finish at the Lecom Suncoast Classic in February. In seven events since, McNealy has cracked the top 50 just once while missing four cuts, including three of his last four.