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McCarthy qualifies to U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach

Patrick McCarthy’s summer just keeps getting better and better.

McCarthy, the St. Pius High alumnus who won his second straight Greater Albuquerque City Golf Championship on July 1, grabbed the second and final qualifying spot Tuesday to play in the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill Aug. 13-29.

McCarthy, an incoming junior for Missouri Western State in St. Joseph, Mo., shot 4-under par 140 (71-69) at UNM Championship Golf Course. Greg Yellin, who will be a redshirt freshman at UTEP, grabbed the top qualifying spot to head to Pebble Beach after shooting 8-under 136 (66-70).

“I’m excited,” McCarthy said of qualifying. “I’ve never been able to go to a tournament like this so this will definitely be something new for me. I’m really excited to get there. I’ve never seen the property. I’ve heard amazing things about it. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be awesome.”

McCarthy posted four birdies and one bogey in the final round. He displayed a calm demeanor, just as he did on his way to defending his City championship.

“I try to stay as even as I can,” said McCarthy, who owned a 72.63 per-round average as Missouri Western State’s No. 1 player during his sophomore season when he was named to the NCAA Division II PING All-Central Region Team. “I try not to get ahead of myself and not get too up and too down. I try to stay as even as I can. I know if I can get too high it can cost me and if I get too low it can cost me.”

McCarthy said his caddy Kevin Kim, a La Cueva alumnus, helped him stay loose. Kim said he was thinking to attend Central Missouri after graduating from La Cueva in 2016. McCarthy mentioned Missouri Western State during a high school tournament and it sparked Kim’s interest. That led to Kim contacting Missouri Western State and going there. However, Kim said he is transferring to UNM this fall to concentrate on engineering and will no longer play golf.

“Typical Pat,” Kim said, referring to McCarthy’s round on Tuesday. “Hit down the middle. (Getting) on greens. He putted really well. He hit a lot of good shots off the tee. Stuck his iron shots pretty close.”

Yellin said he was impressed with McCarthy’s play. Yellin, who was recently selected to play in the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur at The Olympic Club in San Francisco July 24-27, was impressive in his own right.

“Anything under par here is good playing for sure,” said Yellin, who was runner-up at the New Mexico-West Texas Amateur Championship on June 24. “The course is long. The rough is thick so you have to drive it well. You have to hit your irons, especially your long irons really well. It tests all parts of your game.”

Yellin said he has played only one course in California, that being Torrey Pines, so he is excited to compete in the U.S. Amateur as the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association’s top qualifier.

“It feels amazing to qualify for the U.S. Amateur to any venue but for it to be at Pebble Beach is really special,” Yellin said.

He said his game had been struggling about a year ago when he decided to redshirt his first year at UTEP. He continued to work hard and eventually saw improvement.

“I was playing a lot, practicing and really working hard on my game,” Yellin said. “I feel like it’s paid off.”

It’s paid off with a trip to Pebble Beach.

Isaac Merry, a recent New Mexico State University graduate who won the New Mexico-West Texas Amateur Championship, and UNM alumnus Gustavo Morantes both finished one shot behind McCarthy.

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