McCarthy tied for Travelers lead; James signs NIL deal; Stanger climbs leaderboard

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: Sportsnaut

Former Virginia All-American Denny McCarthy followed his opening-round, 10-under-par 60 with a 65 in Friday’s second round, and is tied for the lead with Keegan Bradley at the Travelers Championship.

The two share a tournament-record, 15-under 125 heading into the weekend, breaking the mark of 14-under set by Justin Rose in 2010 and Xander Schauffele last summer.

“It’s nice, but golf tournaments aren’t 36 holes unfortunately,” McCarthy said. “I know there’s still a lot of golf left and I’m playing some really nice golf, so I’m looking forward to having fun this weekend.”

While McCarthy is gunning for his first PGA Tour win, current UVA sophomore Ben James struggled for a second-straight day and missed the cut with a 6-over-par finish.

Meanwhile, another former UVA golfer, Jimmy Stanger, shot up the leaderboard at the Compliance Solutions Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour. Stanger, who was tied for 15th after the first round, posted a 6-under on Friday and vaulted from a tie for 15th into a tie for second at 11-under.

Two other former UVA stars are also competing in the event. Thomas Walsh, a two-time ACC champion, dropped from a tie for third into a tie for 15th at 8-under. Ben Kohles, who leads the Korn Ferry points race on the season, is tied for 35th at 6-under. Kohles was tied for sixth after the opening round.

Stanger is trying to make his eighth-straight cut on the season and has carded 14 birdies through 36 holes.

McCarthy is trying to get over the hump on the PGA Tour. He came close at the Memorial Tournament, losing in a playoff. He said he is playing with a lot of confidence.

“I would say [my confidence] is definitely up there,” said the 30-year-old former Wahoo. “All the shots I’ve hit the last few days have been really … I mean, I’ve just been having a real clear picture. Even hit some kind of off-speed pitches, taking a 7-iron into the wind from 155, hitting a chippy cut, kind of like a Bubba Watson type shot. That’s when I’m at my best, when I am seeing those shots, pulling the club and hitting it.”

Over the years, 18 golfers have won their first PGA Tour events at the Travelers, known for giving younger golfers their first success.

“That would be cool,” McCarthy said. “I didn’t know that. It’s not something I’m really thinking about. I don’t want to look too far ahead. I’m just going to go out and enjoy the challenge and try and have as much fun as I can.”

James, who was the NCAA Freshman of the Year and won the Phil Mickelson Award for winning five times for UVA, didn’t have much fun on what is essentially his home course on Friday.

“Great experience, definitely something I’ll learn from and try to get better from,” James said. “It just wasn’t my day today, my week this week. I hit a lot of good putts, didn’t go in. Actually drove it pretty good today … just scores didn’t add up very good. But it is what it is. It’s golf.”

Virginia golf fans will welcome what James said about returning to the Cavaliers’ program, only a couple of days after signing a new NIL deal to become an ambassador for Cobra/Puma Golf.

“College golf is awesome,” said James, ranked No. 4 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. “I mean, with what the PGA TOUR has done with PGA TOUR U, like staying in school is the right move. Just we have a chance to win a national title the next three years, so really excited to do that.

“Coaches are great. Happy to get back there in August.”

James noted that UVA lost only one starter from this year’s team. His next tournament will be the Southern Am in late July.