Jersey Boys: McCormick Pulls For Gotterup, Laments Lost Chances

A New Jersey guy made an early run at the lead in the Myrtle Beach Classic on Sunday – and his name was NOT Chris Gotterup.

With four holes to play, Ryan McCormick (pictured right) was en route to his best round of the week (he would finish 7-under 64 Sunday and 15-under overall) and sat three shots behind eventual champion Gotterup. When his approach shot to The Dunes Club’s par-5 15th hole settled less than seven feet from the pin, giving him an uphill look at eagle, the possibilities seemed unlimited.

Alas, McCormick – a 32-year-old PGA Tour rookie playing in his 13th event this year – missed the putt, settling for a birdie. Down the stretch, his birdie putts of nine and 10 feet at the 16th and 17th greens slipped past the hole, and his 22-footer at the 18th hole drew a gasp from the gallery when it just missed.

The frustration was evident as McCormick strode to the scoring area. His tie for fifth place this week (with three others, including first-round co-leader Beau Hossler) is easily his best finish of 2024. But he knew what might’ve been.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” he said. “I got a lot of opportunities, but these greens are tough to read. I hit good putts other than 17, but they didn’t move as much as I thought, and I couldn’t believe the one at 18 didn’t fall.”

McCormick’s putting this year (85th in strokes gained) has been solid, but timing is everything. “I putted good last week in Dallas (The CJ Cup Byron Nelson, where he tied for 41st) but couldn’t get a low round,” he said. “If you don’t get a low round here, you’re just treading water.

“These alternate-field events, the (FedEx Cup) points are lower, so top finishes are really important” to boost his Tour status. “As a rookie, it’s difficult to get enough points; it’s an uphill battle all year.

“It’s nice to get points this week, but I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
McCormick, who qualified for the PGA Tour via last year’s top-30 Korn Ferry Tour finish, was also pulling for fellow New Jersey native Gotterup; the two grew up 10 minutes from each other (McCormick in West Long Branch, Gotterup in Little Silver), and while Gotterup is eight years younger, they’ve forged a friendship while playing rounds together in Dallas and
Mexico.

“He was playing great last week, so I won’t be surprised if he blows this (tournament) out by a lot,” McCormick said. “He’s a stud.”
If the PGA Tour didn’t work out, McCormick might consider being a golf instructor. His father, Mark, 62, is a long-time head professional at Suburban Golf Club in Union, N.J., and has won the 2008 New Jersey State Open, 2019 New Jersey Senior Open and qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open and the 2019 U.S. Senior Open. He became a state hall of fame member in 2021.

“I learned a lot from him over my life,” the younger McCormick said. “Being out here (on Tour), we have access to all sorts of information, and when I go home, I try to help him like he helped me.

“He’s stuck in the pro shop this weekend, but my mom (Linda) walked with me for Mother’s Day.” Back in Union, the elder McCormick likely was watching … and, like his son, lamenting the putts that didn’t fall.

By the numbers

Chris Gotterup’s first PGA Tour victory came in his 27th start – his best previous Tour finish was a tie for fourth at the 2022 John Deere Classic. He earned 300 FedExCup points, which projects to 69th in the Tour rankings.

He became the seventh first-time winner on this year’s PGA Tour schedule, and is the first player to bogey his first two final-round holes and still win since Keith Mitchell at the 2019 Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches. His final 262 score is his best, surpassing his 267 at the 2022 John Deere Classic, and he led the field in birdies with 28.

(Top right photo from Ryan McCormick’s Instagram Account)

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