McCarthy goes low on day one, takes two-stroke lead
SAN JACINTO, California—A year ago, Josh McCarthy played in the PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament at Soboba Springs Golf Course and opened with his best score of the week, a 2-under 70. Fifty-three weeks later, his opening-round score at Soboba Springs was a whole lot better than 70. McCarthy fired an 8-under 64 Tuesday, thanks to identical 32s on the two nines, to secure a two-shot lead over Jordan Costello and Kyle Karazissis in the fifth of six Q-Schools the Tour is conducting.
McCarthy went on to tie for 32nd in 2022, earning no status. He’s certainly ahead of last year’s pace through 18 holes.
As the lefthander stood on the 18th tee, he felt a wind coming off his left shoulder. “I love that wind, and I knew I could hit a big, high draw,” the Danville, California, native said. He hit his drive so far that he only needed a 9-iron for his second-shot approach, his ball stopping 20 feet from the cup. From there he rolled it in for eagle to get to 8-under. “I was feeling good. It’s nice when you can get those putts to fall when you’re feeling relaxed,” he added. He credited his work with his irons for his opening score. “It was a good day, obviously. I’ve been working hard on my irons. I was glad to see that. It’s coming together out there.”
Since leaving Pepperdine and amateur golf, McCarthy has had difficulty finding places to play. A year ago, he Monday-qualified into two Korn Ferry Tour tournaments, missing the cut in both. He also qualified for the PGA TOUR’s Barracuda Championship and played in the Fortinet Championship, here in the Golden State. He missed the cut in both tournaments.
McCarthy’s lone bogey of the day came on his second hole. “I started feeling really good and relaxed after that,” he continued. It showed, as he strung together four consecutive birdies after that early miscue then after a par at No. 7, he birdied the par-3 eighth. McCarthy also added birdies on the 11th and 16th before his punctuation at the last.
Costello had the benefit of playing Soboba Springs’ back nine first, admitting, as most players do, that it’s the easier of the two nines. He began his day birdie-birdie, and the University of Utah product added additional birdies on his fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes of his morning.
“I got off to a really solid start. I was in cruise control on the front nine and solid off the tee. Then I missed several fairways but missed them in the right spots and got lucky with some (yardage) numbers. I got some good breaks with open trees and some good lanes,” he said. His lone bogey came at No. 2, his 11th hole, where he missed a short, par putt. “That was a silly three-putt there. I might have been due for something like that after the front nine,” the Wyoming native explained.