McGirt ready for Amateur


First Posted: 1/15/2009

I'm no math wiz -- though I say with pride that I made an A in college algebra through sheer will -- but I know arithmetic progression when I see it.
I don't know if William McGirt is nimble with numbers, either, but he can see as clearly as anyone that he is due to qualify for this year's U.S. Amateur. This will be his sixth attempt, and here's how he's fared in his previous five tries: fourth alternate, fourth alternate, third alternate, second alternate and first alternate.
So it stands to reason that McGirt, the Fairmontian who captured last weekend's Robeson County Golf Championship title, will make the field Thursday at the 36-hole qualifier in Orangeburg, S.C. That's mathematically speaking, of course.
“I'm hoping this year's the time that I jump up and get the big one,” McGirt said after Sunday's final round.
He'd better, or he'll be wrecking my equation.
Seriously, though, McGirt's dominating 10-stroke victory at Pinecrest Country Club, highlighted by the single-round and tournament scoring records he set, was evidence that his game is coalescing at the right time. He admitted before the tourney that he was using it as a warm-up, as he had not played much since last month's North & South Amateur.
He didn't seem too all-fired excited about winning or breaking records, so obviously he was more worried about smoothing out some wrinkles in his game than beating guys twice his age senseless.
“It's always nice to win,” said McGirt. “I was just trying to see what I can do and try and get comfortable again.”
Hey, you can't blame him for padding his resume while working out some kinks. And despite his performance, he still believes there is plenty to tweak.
“I still have got to hit it better,” he said. “I'm gonna have to work hard all week.”
McGirt's basically gonna camp out at the driving range, where he plans to log anywhere from four to seven hours a day. No rounds, just poundin' balls into the clear blue sky.
According to McGirt, all his toil could be for naught because of the unpredictability of the qualifier. You cram 36 holes into one day, then I suppose a lot can happen. He expects the top three players out of about 85 to make the cut, but what the magic number will be is not something a discriminating gambler would want to wager on. Last year it was 6-under, the year before that 14-under.
It depends on the course, of course, so no one can go in expecting to cruise.
“It's just a crap shoot,” McGirt said. “You never know what it's gonna take.”
Beyond that, there lies the possibility of turning pro this fall. He is still mulling that over, but his chances there seem fair as well.
To note, if McGirt goes pro, he will be the second county champ in three years to do so. Jamie Locklear won in 2000 and hit the mini-tours soon after.
“Bad context,” RCGC runner-up Dyrck Fanning said. “William has great potential. I think he has a considerable chance to break through.”
A big step toward becoming a professional golfer for McGirt would be playing in the U.S. Amateur, which takes place in Bloomfield, Mich., on Aug. 19-25. I think he'll pull it off, because the numbers don't lie.
Fields still playing
The baseball hasn't ended yet for former St. Pauls standout pitcher Kyle Fields.
The 2001 Robeson County Player of the Year is currently playing for the Garner Orioles in the Eastern North State Baseball League. The O's (11-3) are taking on Wilmington tonight at 7:30 in the semifinals of the league tournament, and Fields is expected to start.
Fields is 3-2 this summer, and he's getting more playing time than he did this spring at Methodist College, where he went 1-0 with a 4.84 ERA. In 22 1/3 innings, he struck out 15, walked five and yielded four homers. The 5-foot-7 Fields was named to the Dixie Conference's all-academic squad.
Should the Orioles win tonight, they will play for the title Saturday at 4 p.m. All games are at Princeton High School, which is located just off I-95 at Exit 95.
Britt signs
One of the top athletes Robeson County has produced recently has verbally committed to Clemson, though you may not have heard of him.
Jarrod Britt, who at one time attended Lumberton Junior High, is a rising senior at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga., which is near Atlanta. Britt is a 6-5, 283-pound offensive lineman and is a four-star recruit according to CUTigers.com.
The web site says Britt “is one of the most athletic big men in the country.” With Thad Hedgpeth now at Kansas State, I bet Lumberton coach Jeff Smouse wishes this kid was still around.
-- Brad Locke can be reached at 739-4322, Ext. 118 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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