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Dan McCarthy digs out of hole to win Fuhrer Invitational

Chuck Curti
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Chuck Curti
Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. presents invitational winner Dan McCarthy with a ceremonial check Wednesday at Pittsburgh Field Club.

During his victory speech, Dan McCarthy told the patriarch of the Frank B. Fuhrer Jr. Invitational he would have done anything to compete in the tournament, including play with a rake and shovel.

It almost came to that. McCarthy’s clubs and clothes got hung up in transit as he tried to fly from Wichita, Kan., the site of last weekend’s Web.com Tour event, to Pittsburgh.

His connecting flight out of Dallas was cancelled, so he had to settle for a flight to Dayton, Ohio, without his gear, then drive the rest of the way. He arrived at 1 a.m. Monday. To play the first two rounds, he borrowed clubs from fellow competitors Mike Van Sickle and Michael Gligic and wore clothes he bought at a department store.

The travails made his victory that much sweeter. Trailing leader and playing partner David Bradshaw by two entering Wednesday’s final round at Pittsburgh Field Club, McCarthy — finally with his own equipment — overcame a three-shot deficit at the turn to win by a stroke.

He used back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to overtake Bradshaw, then parred No. 18 to secure the win. He finished at 5-under-par 275 for the tournament, and the $40,000 represented his biggest professional paycheck.

“With everything that happened the last few days, I couldn’t ask for a better result,” said McCarthy, 32, who has three top-10 finishes on the Web.com Tour this year. “I certainly didn’t expect it showing up here on Monday without clubs and clothes.”

After pulling within a shot of Bradshaw with a birdie on No. 8, McCarthy put his tee shot on the par-4 ninth in the fairway. Bradshaw pushed his drive right, leaving himself a downhill lie in thick, wet rough just inches from a tree.

But McCarthy’s approach landed on the front of the green, then rolled backward off the false front. He wound up with a bogey. Bradshaw overcame his awkward lie to stick his approach 4 feet from the flag. He made the birdie putt to take a three-shot edge.

Bradshaw still led by three through 13 holes but three-putt for bogey on No. 14. On the par-5 15th, he was just short of the green after his second shot but clunked his third well past the hole, turning a potential birdie into a par.

McCarthy hung in then strung together the two crucial birdie putts: a 12-footer on No. 16 and a 16-footer on No. 17. Bradshaw, meanwhile, bogeyed No. 17.

“I didn’t putt very well on the back nine, and it cost me,” Bradshaw, a three-time Fuhrer winner, said. “Those birdie putts (McCarthy made) on 16 and 17 were ridiculous. He’s 34th on the (Web.com Tour) money list for a reason.”

McCarthy said he struggled with putting most of the day, but he made the ones he needed down the stretch.

“That’s been a little bit of the story on the Web Tour for me this year,” he said. “I thought today was going to be another chapter in the book of burning edges and what could have been. Those putts went in at the right time, and it ended up being just enough.”

Defending champion T.J. Howe finished third at 2-under. He was in the mix on the back nine until a bogey on the par-3 14th sank his chances.

“Starting yesterday, my short putting was less than ideal,” Howe said. “I probably missed seven to 10 inside 4 feet, which you can’t do if you’re going to win.”

Franklin Regional rising senior Palmer Jackson closed with 71 to finish 11th at 5-over. Penn-Trafford grad Dan Obremski was one stroke behind Jackson after a 73.

Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.

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