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How a missed cut may help propel this John Deere contender into his first Open Championship

Denny McCarthy

Denny McCarthy is having a career season on the PGA Tour.

Though he’s still seeking his first Tour victory, he’s already nearly doubled his winnings from last year, with a tally of more than $2.3 million, thanks to four top 10s this season — including a T7 at the U.S. Open.

The U.S. Open was only the sixth major of McCarthy’s career, and now he has his sights set on a berth at the Open Championship at St. Andrews in two weeks, which he isn’t currently qualified to play.

The good news? The top three finishers inside the top 10 at this week’s John Deere Classic who aren’t otherwise qualified to play the Open will earn a spot in the championship, so this week is an important one for McCarthy. After 36 holes, he was sitting in second, four shots behind leader J.T. Poston.

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McCarthy credits his sold play to finally having the chance to rest a bit — though it happened against his will.

“I think I was just exhausted last week,” McCarthy said of his missed cut at the Travelers Championship. “I didn’t quite realize how mentally and physically taxing it is to be in contention at a major championship. That was my first time doing it. I was probably still running off a little adrenaline Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and I was just really tired last week.

“Honestly, you never want to miss cuts, but it was honestly — if I wanted to get into the British Open, which is what the goal is here this week, honestly probably a good thing I missed the cut last week. Coming into this week a little more fresh.”

The extra rest paid off, as McCarthy fired rounds of 66-65 (-11) to get himself in the mix for the weekend.

Though there’s still plenty of golf left to be played, McCarthy is hoping he’ll be one of the lucky three heading to St. Andrews — not that he’s letting the opportunity to play his first Open change his game plan.

“Just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I can’t pay attention to what [tournament leader Poston’s] doing,” he said. “I’m sure he’s going to come out and he’s going to have some good birdie looks. You know, I’m hoping to do the same.”

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