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When he was 12 or 13, Denny McCarthy tackled for the first time one of the toughest golf courses in his area – TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm north of Washington, D.C.
He got the better of the rugged layout.
Playing from a collection of forward tees – the course is still burdensome from there – the youngster broke par.
“I shot like 1‑under 70 and it was like my best round ever on a golf course, so I remember I do have that nice memory,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “I know it was on the older course, but I remember it felt like that round, it was like I knew I was going to play a hard golf course and I treated it like a U.S. Open and I played well that day. So that was a nice feeling as a young kid to know that I could play a hard golf course well.”
McCarthy is back at TPC Potomac this week for the Wells Fargo Championship, which has been relocated from Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, this year because that course is hosting the upcoming Presidents Cup. McCarthy said he played TPC Potomac about a half-dozen times before the redo and another dozen times afterward. While he admits he doesn’t remember a whole lot of the course, it does provide some familiar footing that could give him an edge.
In addition to that mojo, McCarthy tossed in unique prep before Thursday’s first round. The former golf and basketball standout at nearby Georgetown Preparatory School headed to the NBA’s Washington Wizards practice facility on Tuesday for a shootaround and a possible three-point contest.
“This is one (tournament) that I’ve had circled on my calendar for a little while,” said McCarthy, 29, who also was a two-time All-American in golf at the University of Virginia. “It will be nice to have a crowd out here Thursday and Friday. Hopefully, I can make some noise and play well on the weekend and maybe gather a few more people on the weekend would be pretty cool.”
McCarthy also feels good about his golf game. While the results haven’t been to his liking of late – he’s ranked 157th in the world and looking for his first PGA Tour title – he is more upbeat than discouraged.
He’s only missed one cut in his last 14 starts and has five top 15s. He also remains one of the game’s best putters as he’s ranked in the top 20 in Strokes Gained: Putting and Total Putting.
Denny McCarthy lines up a putt while on the green at the ninth hole during the second round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
“I haven’t really had many great results lately, but that doesn’t mean my game’s not in a good spot,” said McCarthy, who now lives in Florida. “I played all four Florida events, made all those cuts. Got caught in a few of the bad waves, which is obviously going to happen. I’ve still been playing good golf.
“I haven’t seen my name up top as much as I would have liked, but I’m still working on the right things. And my game feels really good and I’m starting to hit it really well to give myself a lot of looks. I’ve still been putting well, too, I just haven’t really made as much as I’m used to seeing go in, but I know if I just keep doing what I’m doing, good things are right around the corner.”