After winning the Washington Open in May and forcing a playoff at the Seattle Amateur in early July, Drew McCullough thought he had a decent chance of representing the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA) in this year’s Morse Cup at the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship.
But it was still nice when he got the email Thursday confirming his status on the team.
“I knew I was in the running for it based on how well I’ve been playing this summer, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure until I got the email,” McCullough said. “I’m really excited. One of my goals this summer was just to be in the tournament (Pacific Coast Amateur Championship), and then it’s really an honor to be on the (Morse Cup) team.”
McCullough, a Richland High School graduate and senior at the University of Wyoming, will compete with Andrew Whalen (Ephrata HS and former Washington State Cougar) and Chase Carlson (Puyallup HS and junior at Colorado Christian University) for the WSGA’s Morse Cup team at the 51st Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, which runs Tuesday-Friday at Chambers Bay in University Place.
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The Pacific Coast Amateur is a 72-hole, individual stroke-play championship, and the Morse Cup takes place simultaneously with the first two days (36 holes) of the competition. The top two scores from each association’s team each day count toward the Morse Cup scores, with the lowest team total winning the cup.
Although McCullough has never played with Whalen or Carlson, he anticipates the atmosphere of team golf will help motivate him as he competes at his first Pacific Coast Amateur.
“I kind of look at, team-wise, the best you can do for the team is the best you can do for yourself,” he said. “If you start having a rough stretch of holes, you can always look back and say, ‘Hey, I’m in this for the team too. I’ve gotta get something going.’ So it definitely helps being on a team in certain situations.”
The WSGA won four Morse Cups from 2004-09, but hasn’t claimed one since. The team will get the home-course advantage at Chamber’s Bay — the site of the 2015 U.S. Open — a track that is sure to challenge the entire field.
“I played it once, a long time ago, and then I went and scouted it out again when the U.S. Open was there,” McCullough said. “It’s just another round of golf in my mind. It’s on a tough course, I know that, but I’m pretty well prepared I think. You’ve just gotta go in, know your strength and play the way you can.”
A successful week for McCullough would hardly be a surprise as he’s conquered nearly every challenge he’s undertaken in the past year. In addition to his victory at the Washington Open and playoff appearance at the Seattle Amateur, he was a semifinalist at the 2016 PNGA Men’s Amateur, the co-leader after the first round of the Sahalee Players Championship earlier this month, and a key contributor for Wyoming during the school year, racking up several top-10 finishes.
McCullough credited his recent run of success to long hours of practice and some insight from his summer coach, Meadow Spring Teaching Pro Jason Aichele.
“I worked hard on my game once school ended and it’s really been paying off,” he said. “I work with Aichele as much as I can. We’re both really busy, but he’s played a huge role in the success that I’ve had this summer.”