Adrenaline still coursing through his body, Lee McCoy didn’t sleep much once he arrived home in Athens, Ga., at 4 a.m. Monday.
A few hours later, he woke up to himself on TV. He thought he was still dreaming.
The Georgia senior, fresh off the best finish by an amateur in a regular PGA Tour event in 18 years, played in the Bulldogs’ one-day, 36-hole home tournament on Monday.
Though he said in a text that he was “running on fumes through 9, sleepwalking the last 27,” McCoy still tied for seventh at the Southern Intercollegiate after rounds of 70-71. Second-ranked Georgia won the team title by three shots over Arkansas.
All in all, it was a memorable 24 hours, following McCoy’s fourth-place finish at the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship.
“Right now he is just mentally exhausted,” Georgia coach Chris Haack said by phone Monday. “He told me in the parking lot, ‘Hey, I’ll give you everything I’ve got today, but I don’t have a lot in the tank.’ I told him to just have fun and enjoy it. You could tell he was just running on adrenaline and probably will throughout the day. But tonight, he’s going to crash and sleep like a baby.”
Fortunately for McCoy, carts were allowed during the event Monday, a welcome reprieve after a long week at Innisbrook.
Haack said he and the rest of the team watched nearly every shot of McCoy’s final round in Tampa, cheering and high-fiving as he played alongside world No. 1 Jordan Spieth. In contention in his fourth career Tour start, in his hometown tournament, about a par 5 from his childhood home, McCoy shot 69, beat Spieth by four shots and finished solo fourth. Because of his amateur status, McCoy forfeited $292,800, then made the 7 1/2-hour drive back to Athens so that he could play in his home tournament one final time.
Though McCoy is an All-American with a sparkling résumé – the low single-season scoring average in school history (quite an accomplishment, given the alumni), a U.S. Open appearance, a Walker Cup team – Haack has been working with his 22-year-old star on his on-course comportment. He knew the final-round date with Spieth was a significant test.
“I thought he did a terrific job,” Haack said. “I told him: Yesterday it looked like you’d arrived. You’d finally learned it’s a game and you plug along. I was very impressed.”
No school has produced more PGA Tour wins over the past few years than Georgia, a testament to the way that Haack runs his program. For the past 20 years, he has challenged his players on a daily basis with an intense qualifying system.
“We don’t interfere,” he said. “We leave it up to them and how they’re going to perform. And so they’re playing every round with pressure, so they’re used to it. They always have to hit shots with the heat on.”
Both Henley and English won Web.com Tour events as amateurs, in 2011. Now, McCoy is getting his turn in the spotlight, just months before he embarks on a pro career.
“He’s got the game and physical attributes to play as good as anybody I’ve ever had,” Haack said. “What he needed to get better at was composure and mental toughness. As he conquers that, he’s going to be a very good Tour player.”