by Ryan Lavner
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (Aug. 25, 2010) -- From one of the highest points at Chambers Bay, Mike McCoy watched for 20 seconds as his tee shot skipped along the 14th fairway and dove behind a massive dune, out of sight. He snatched his tee and headed down the hill, puffing happily on his second cigar of the morning.
He chomped down hard when he saw where his tee shot came to rest.
At a course defined as much by its unpredictable caroms as its majestic vistas, McCoy got a most unfortunate bounce at the most inopportune time Wednesday at the U.S. Amateur.
“That was unfortunate, wasn’t it?” McCoy joked afterward. “I picked up my tee, thought it was my Sunday best, and I got down there and couldn’t even hit the ball.”
McCoy took double bogey and conceded the hole, went 4 down with four to play, and eventually lost, 3 and 2, after missing a 7-foot birdie putt at 16.
“It was kind of an unfortunate break,” Chung said. “That seemed to be the turning point in the match, really.”
OK, so McCoy had his share of chances to cut into the deficit. He missed a number of makeable birdie opportunities, including three straight to begin the back nine. But his bad break on 14 was particularly demoralizing.
“You’ve got to be (kidding) me,” McCoy said after arriving at the bunker.
“What are my options here?” he called out to the group’s rules official, and he didn’t like what was presented.
• He could re-tee, the least desirable option after his misadventure only a few minutes prior.
• He could try to hack it out from that miserable lie, with a clump of grass sitting behind the ball and the lip waiting to grab the club and, perhaps, snap his wrist.
• Or he could take an unplayable lie, costing himself a stroke in a match that was one mistake from going dormie. Not ideal, either, but in this case necessary.
McCoy laughed. Golf being the cruelest of games, his fourth shot wound up 15 feet from the pin, but he conceded Chung’s par putt.
And so, essentially, ended a valiant charge against Chung, one of the favorites this week after he won the Porter Cup and Western Amateur in consecutive starts this summer. They halved only one hole on the front nine, with Chung taking a 2-up lead at the turn, but McCoy missed makeable putts on Nos. 10-13 to fall behind.
McCoy won the 15th with a par, but his short birdie putt at 16 slid by the cup to end the match.
“Everybody is going to get a bad bounce here and there,” said McCoy, of West Des Moines, Iowa. “That, obviously, was a little severe, and I’m sure they’ll fix it before the U.S. Open (in 2015). That’s the way it goes sometimes.”