McNealy Eagles final hole for PGA lead

by | Sep 18, 2021 | PGA

Maverick McNealy overcame three bogeys in a row and punched himself from 74 yards for Eagle as the last to commit to an eight-under-64 and the second-round lead in the Fortinet Championship.

In 66 career starts on the PGA Tour without a win, McNealy had nine birdies – one from a green bunker to compensate for his stumbling blocks to get to 12 under at the Silverado Resort and Spa.

Beau Hossler matched McNealys 64 to get six with Mito Pereira (67th). Three more, including Tour Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris (67), were nine below.

The leader of the first round, Chez Reavie, barely managed to leave eight strokes behind after a round of 75 with five bogeys and one double bogey. Phil Mickelson, 69, was five under seven behind.

McNealy, who missed the cut here a year ago, started the day three strokes behind on a 68 but quickly made up for it with birdies on three of his first four holes.

The 25-year-old Northern Californian was under on turn nine before tripping when his approach shot at # 1 sailed into a green bunker. McNealy had to fight for bogey, dropping another shot on the nearest hole when a short putt long missed, and then dropping to six after going into a green bunker again.

One of McNealy’s bogeys came after his tee shot at No. 3 ricocheted backwards from a tree and drove 50 yards down a cart lane.

“Actually, I think a golf cart went over my ball so I had to take a drop,” said McNealy, who is in 110th place. “I played the first nine almost without a mistake. Made the turn and it’s weird how things are going. All of a sudden, I did three bogeys in a row.”

McNealy got back on track with a 10 foot birdie putt at # 4. Two more birdies followed before he made a brilliant stroke from a bunker for another birdie to seven. After a par to 8, McNealy briefly left his approach at the 571 yards par-5 endhole and then used a sand wedge to hit a bump-and-run that rolled in for Eagle.

“I was actually a little nervous because it looked like it landed on a pitch mark and then shot forward and right,” said McNealy. “It turned out to be a great kick.”

McNealy started the weekend in good shape and is aiming for his first Tour win.

Australian Aaron Baddeley shot a 68 and moved up 53 places to 24th place. With five under, he is seven behind McNealy and one in front of compatriots Cameron Percy (69) and Marc Leishman (71).