Six-Year eGolf Tour Member Will McGirt Posts Career-Best T2 Finish at PGA TOUR’s RBC Canadian Open
McGirt blasts from greenside bunker at the 72nd hole
By Stewart Moore
Ontario, Canada – With four holes to play in the final round of the PGA TOUR’s RBC Canadian Open, longtime eGolf Tour member William McGirt of Boiling Springs, SC found himself at 18-under par and in sole possession of the tournament lead. A late stumble featuring bogeys on two of his last four holes, however, left the charismatic McGirt with a career-best T2 finish, in just his 57th career PGA TOUR start.
McGirt, who played the eGolf Tour full-time as a member from 2004 through 2009, opened his week at historic Hamilton Golf & Country Club with rounds of 63-66—129 to share the 36-hole lead with Scott Piercy heading into weekend play at one of the world’s oldest championships.
On Saturday, McGirt played brilliant golf early on, posting three birdies in his first six holes to reach 14-under for the tournament. On the back nine, the former Wofford College star birdied the par-4 10th to reach 4-under for the round, but posted his first blemish with a bogey at the par-3 13th that dropped him back to 14-under overall.
A late third-round birdie at the par-3 16th took McGirt back to 15-under par, where he eventually finished after pars at 17 and 18 gave him a 4-under 66 on the day. His 54-hole total of 15-under 195 again placed him in the final pairing, this time alongside good friend Robert Garrigus (16-under) for Sunday’s final round.
The early story on day four was the move made by Scott Piercy. Birdies on four of his first five holes took the Las Vegas native into the lead at 18-under par – one shot clear of McGirt, who birdied Nos. 3 and 4 to begin the day in solid fashion, moving up to 17-under.
A bogey at No. 8 took Piercy back to 17-under par, and allowed McGirt to walk into the tournament lead with a birdie-bogey-birdie stretch on Nos. 7 through 9 – the latter coming courtesy of a dramatic greenside chip-in with a hybrid.
“It was just an awful lie. I couldn't get a club under it. I didn't know whether to try to hit it with the tail of the putter or belly a wedge,” said McGirt. “Brandon's first reaction was taking a hybrid out and just kind of chopping down on it. It came out absolutely perfect, on a perfect line and went in with perfect speed.”
The unlikely birdie took McGirt from final-round feel-good story to legitimate title contender, just nine holes away from his first PGA TOUR title in this, his sophomore year on golf’s biggest stage.
Pars on Nos. 10 through 14 kept McGirt in the lead at 18-under par, but a bogey at the par-4 15th dropped him back into a tie for the lead alongside Piercy (who bogeyed 14 but birdied 15) and Garrigus – who birdied the par-4 14th hole to reach 17-under.
A bogey by Garrigus at No. 16 pushed the late-round drama into somewhat of a two-horse race, with Piercy and McGirt both at 17-under. Matching pars on 16 and 17 by the two brought all three contenders to the tee, separately, of the difficult par-4 finishing hole at Hamilton G&CC.
Piercy, playing in the day’s penultimate twosome, hit his approach to the 72nd hole to 40 feet, and pulled off a solid two-putt to post 17-under 263 in the clubhouse – in turn forcing McGirt to par the last, and Garrigus to birdie the last, in order to match.
Both McGirt and Garrigus found the fairway on No. 18, setting up the day’s nail-biter of a finish.
First to play, McGirt blocked a 6-iron into a greenside bunker, while Garrigus’ approach wound up 12 feet short and left of the hole.
McGirt, facing a docile bunker shot to a severely-sloped green, left his third shot short of the hole, roughly 18 feet away from a must-make par to force extra holes.
Putting uphill, into the grain, and with a strong right-to-left break, McGirt was focused as much on line as on speed – and it showed. His par try at the last came up short and dove left, roughly 3 feet beneath the cup. The downhill putts last week at Hamilton were brutal, but the uphill putts weren’t a walk in the park – something McGirt was well aware of.
“Yeah, it would have been a much easier putt downhill. I wouldn't have had to worry about the speed,” he said. “I was focusing probably too much online, trying to make sure I got it online and just forgot to hit it. I just came up and out of it and kind of whiffed it and left it two and a half feet short.”
When Garrigus failed to convert his birdie putt at the last, Piercy was left with the title at 17-under, while McGirt and Garrigus shared runner-up honors at 16-under.
The T2 finish marked a career-best for McGirt, and pushed his 2012 earnings up to $986,045 – good for 69th on the PGA TOUR money list.
After finishing his rookie year of 2011 with conditional PGA TOUR status for 2012, McGirt was forced to return to Q-School in order to retain his playing privileges for the year. After his T2 in Canada, McGirt has earned more than enough money to solidify his 2013 TOUR card.
“You know, my first goal coming into this week was to get enough points to qualify for the (FedEx Cup) PLAYOFFS, to make sure I was in the PLAYOFFS,” McGirt said. “My second goal for the week was to lock up my card.”
McGirt was a veritable ATM machine on the eGolf Tour from 2004 through 2009, collecting over 40 top-10s and a win at the 2007 Cabarrus Classic. He earned $532,933 in his rookie year on the PGA TOUR after a breakthrough year on the 2010 Web.com Tour in which he finished 34th on the money list with earnings of $173,444.
The job security that McGirt now owns will change his approach for the remainder of 2012. Timid shots preceded by thoughts of making cuts as opposed to winning tournaments will now give way to an air of confidence McGirt once exuded on the eGolf Tour as one of the top 10 players week in and week out.
“I think it just frees you up. If you're in between clubs or you're kind of borderline going for it, I think you can go ahead and try it now,” he said. “It's not going to cost you your job anymore. You can go ahead and try to win golf tournaments now. You can put the hammer down and go for it.”
Former eGolf Tour players Josh Teater and Chris Kirk finished tied for fourth on the week, three shots behind Piercy at 14-under 266.
Kirk, who played the eGolf Tour in 2009 before ascending to the Web.com Tour and from there to the PGA TOUR, entered the final round in a tie for fourth at 12-under par. Eleven straight pars to open his Sunday round did little to put Kirk into contention, but birdies on 12, 14 and 15 put him into the mix at 15-under with just three holes to play.
Needing to finish with a bang, Kirk stumbled with a bogey at the par-5 17th to drop back down to 14-under par, and out of the title chase.
The finish marked the fourth top-10 of 2012 for Kirk, and his second in a row dating back to the prior week’s True South Classic – where he finished T10 as the event’s defending champion.
Other eGolf Tour players to make the cut in Canada include Scott Stallings (T7), Tom Gillis (T19), Brian Harman (T19), Martin Flores (T19), Will Claxton (T19), Cameron Tringale (T19), Brendon Todd (T19), Billy Horschel (T42), Garth Mulroy (T42), Daniel Summerhays (T42), Tommy Gainey (T48), Russell Knox (T56), Ted Potter (T56), Michael Thompson (T61), Matt Every (T61), Jason Kokrak (T71), Matt McQuillan (T75) and Matt Hill (T75). For complete results from the RBC Canadian Open on PGATOUR.com, please click here.