Madison County native Seth McCain won the Yamaha Atlanta Open last week at Chattahoochee Golf Club in dramatic fashion, capturing the title in a three-man playoff.
The 2005 Madison County High School graduate fired a second round 68 to finish with a two-day total of 6-under par 138.
McCain nearly took the title in regulation on the 18th hole, a 440-yard par four.
“I had about a six-foot putt for birdie to get to seven under that would have won it, but I just missed it,” he said.
McCain missed the 18th green on the first playoff hole but managed a sand save for par, while one of his two playoff competitors dropped out with a bogey. On the second playoff hole, McCain found a bunker again by the 18th green on his approach shot, but he saved par again with an up and down.
The former Red Raider picked up a first-place check of $3,600 in the state’s oldest golf tournament.
McCain, a PGA apprentice at Jennings Mill Country Club in Athens, said he felt confident prior to the opening tee shot.
“I felt pretty good leading up to the tournament,” said McCain. “I was hitting the ball well and a lot of the holes are right to left and I play a heavy draw.”
McCain lives in Athens with his wife, the former Kelli Burroughs, a 2002 Madison County High School graduate. After graduating from MCHS, he went to Thomas University in Thomasville on a golf scholarship, then left the school to take a position at Jennings Mill, where he is now assistant pro.
“I’m pretty comfortable where I’m at now and don’t foresee trying to move anywhere and get a different position,” he said. “I hope to work up to a head pro position a little later on.”
McCain, who also picked up two wins in 2009, expects to have his head pro certification through the PGA of America in the near future. While success on the golf course is a great joy, he says helping others improve through instruction is satisfying too — whether it’s a novice trying to learn the basics or a scratch golfer seeking a minor tweak to his swing.
“I enjoy helping someone else improve their game and seeing the happy feeling they have after a round,” said McCain, the son of Mike and Janelle McCain, and the older brother of Caleb, Zack and Ben.
Nevertheless, McCain has dreams of bigger golfing glory, too.
“I want to try to qualify for the U.S. Open,” he said.
McCain and the golfing world watched this past week as no one broke par in the U.S. Open at San Francisco’s Olympic Club, where Webb Simpson captured the title Sunday at one over par.
“Those fairways are about half the size of the one’s we’re hitting to,” said McCain. “That’s a mean golf course. It would be fun to test my game on a course like that.”
Championship golf requires a real touch on difficult greens. And McCain’s short game is certainly sound, as evidenced by his two sand saves to win the Atlanta Open.
“Putting is my biggest strength,” said McCain. “I’ve always felt like I’ve been at the top of the list with putting. I’ve always put most of my practice time in the short game.”
But McCain, who plans to play in three more significant tournaments this summer, including the Georgia State Open Aug. 2-5, sees a need to improve his iron play in order to take his game to another level.
“I feel my biggest weakness would be not getting enough fairway shots close enough to get a shot at birdie,” he said.
Of course, he’ll have last week’s success to boost his confidence in future competition.
“It was really big for me,” said McCain of the Atlanta Open title. “It was a lot of fun.”