On his second shot of the 54th and final hole of the Maryland Open on a cloudy and muggy Wednesday afternoon at the Country Club of Maryland in Towson, Denny McCarthy hit the dagger.
The Virginia rising junior and 2010 Maryland Open champion left the ball within 5 feet, setting up a birdie putt that broke a tie with professional Rick Schuller and clinched him the 92nd edition of the tournament at 7-under-par (200).
"Right before my second shot on 18, I thought back to Manor [Country Club] when I won my Maryland Open there," said McCarthy, of Rockville. "Right before I hit that shot, I stuck it close. I thought about that right before I hit my shot today, and it gave me some great, positive energy.
"I got right up and stuck it again. It's good to know, under pressure, when the tournament's on the line, I can bring out my best stuff. That's what matters, and I was able to do that."
The victory did not come easily. As McCarthy put it, "it was a full-out battle."
He and Schuller traded blows throughout the final round. Schuller took the lead on the ninth hole, and McCarthy rebounded by sinking a birdie attempt on the 12th.
McCarthy took the lead after Schuller bogeyed the 14th, but Schuller responded, draining a birdie on the 17th to knot them at 6-under.
On the 18th, Schuller's second shot landed on the green, 15 feet right of the hole. McCarthy's wedge shot from 102 yards sailed just over the hole, settling only 4 feet from the pin.
After Schuller's birdie attempt passed just right of the hole, he tapped in for a par.
All McCarthy had to do was tap in his birdie attempt for a victory, which would add to his Maryland State Amateur Championship last month.
Moments after his putter made contact, he ripped his Virginia hat off, pumped his left fist and acknowledged the crowd.
"I knew it was going to be a long, tough round going into today," said McCarthy, the runner-up in last year's Maryland Open. "I just found a way to dig deep and pull it out in the back nine. I missed some short ones early, but I was really hot on the back when I needed to be. I made the putts at the right times."
Both McCarthy and Schuller came into Wednesday's round trailing incoming Loyola freshman Matt Oshrine (Pikesville). The 17-year-old held a one-shot lead at 5-under and extended his lead after he birdied the first hole of the day.
However, his second shot of the second hole landed in the mud out of bounds — what he called a "horrible shot." It resulted in a triple bogey. He went on to bogey the third hole and double-bogey the fourth.
In the span of three holes, he went from 6-under to even.
Despite finishing the final eight holes at par, Oshrine finished the tournament tied for ninth (2-over). Professional Dirk Schultz of Hagerstown placed third at 3-under, and Keith Unikel of Potomac finished fourth at 1-under.
“Everything kind of unraveled for me after that second hole,” Oshrine said. “Just not the best round of golf for me. It was one of those days.
“Rick and Denny played really consistent, solid golf. It never came back to me at all.”