As a golfer on the Rockets’ golf team, Matt McCord was a two-time All-District 10 team member, three-time Region Player of the Year, and the 2013 District 10 AA Golf Champion.
Currently, McCord, a 2015 Titusville graduate, is pursuing a business degree, specifically studying PGA golf management, at Campbell University, in Buies Creek, N.C.
He is in the PGMSA (PGA Golf Management Student association) at the university.
The PGMSA hosts tournaments on a weekly basis at the university’s golf course.
“This is the second year I have been a part of this program for aspiring PGA professionals, and it has been all I could have ever dreamed of,” McCord said.
This year, the former Rocket golfer has qualified for the prestigious Jones Cup, which will be played at the PGA Golf Club Wanamaker Course, in Port St. Lucie, Fl.
“I would say that making this team is the biggest achievement of my career at Campbell,” McCord said. “The Jones Cup is what every student in the PGA golf management program strives for, and being one of the five to go and compete is an honor.”
McCord will be alongside four other top golfers representing Campbell in the Cup competition. His teammates include: Peter Clarke, of Philadelphia; Corey Layton, of Rochester, N.Y., Luke Polland, of Minnesota; and Johannes Fontes Zitzer, of Portugal.
With almost 20 teams competing for the Jones Cup, McCord and his squad will be up against other school’s top golfers, such as Penn State, Clemson, and Coastal Carolina, just to name a few.
The Jones Cup is in its 15th year, originally beginning at Mississippi State, in 2002. Now, the annual prestigious national championship for aspiring PGA professionals hosts 19 accredited PGA golf management universities nationwide.
McCord is excited to start the Jones Cup, which opens Monday, with the practice round, and runs through Wednesday. The first round is slated for Tuesday.
“There are a few things I am really looking forward to in this event,” McCord said, and being back in completion, especially big competition, is at the top of the list .
“I haven’t been in a tournament in quite some time where I knew that it was a big deal, and I love playing in big events. Big events bring out the best golf in me, and I’m looking forward to the competition.”
He also is looking forward to playing on a team with the other top four golfers from Campbell.
“Another thing is playing on a team again,” McCord added. “This is the first team I’ve been a part of since our (Titusville’s) back-to-back District 10 championship team, in 2014.”
McCord hasn’t been on the Wanamaker Course yet, but that won’t change his gameplan, come Monday.
“My gameplan is fairly simple,” he said, looking ahead to the action. His plan “is to play smart, conservative golf, and take what the golf course gives me. If there is a par-5 that I can reach in two, and it will not kill my round, I will definitely try and go for it, only if it will not jeopardize my team.”
Campbell University leads the PGA golf management universities in capturing the Jones Cup, winning the title four times. This year, McCord and his team are setting out to extend their Cup wins, and will need to take the title back from the defending champions — New Mexico State University.
Monday, the golfers set out for the practice rounds, and although McCord has never seen the course before, Campbell’s team has some knowledge of what to expect.
“We have one member, Corey Layton, who has been down there recently, and who has been on the team before,” he said. “So, I’m sure when I get down there I’ll be able to make a solid gameplan, and be able to feel comfortable.”
In preparation for the Jones Cup, McCord has been working on his driving, mostly.
“The biggest aspect of my golf game that I have been working on is driving the golf ball and around the greens,” he said. “My chipping, pitching, and bunker-play have been very inconsistent this year, and in year’s past. If I tighten that part of my game up by this event, I’ll be fine.
“With driving,” McCord continued, “it has just been a battle to get the ball in play and hit fairways. I know this Bermuda rough down in Florida will be tough, and hitting fairways will be a must to shoot low scores.”
McCord loves the game of golf, and going pro in the sport would be a dream for him. But, if that doesn’t work out, he knows that the game will still be a major part of his life, and he wants to give back to the sport.
He said his aspirations were to be a teacher, when he first arrived at Campbell.
“I have always wanted to give back to the game that has done so much for me,” he said. “This past summer, while I was interning at Fox Chapel Golf Club, I tried to qualify for the Pennsylvania Open. I did not make the cut, but it made me realize I love playing the game of golf.”
Over the course of this semester, McCord says, his game has been pretty good.
“After this semester, where I went at least three weeks without shooting over par for 18 holes, it made me realize that if I can find a balanced attack in my studies and golf game, I can possibly make it a living.”
He continued, saying, “Playing professional golf is a difficult task, but being at a place where they try to make you the best player you can be, it lets me keep the dream of playing on tour alive.”
With his PGA Tour dreams still thriving, McCord is taking a slice of his favorite golfer’s mindset with him to the Jones Cup.
“My favorite golfer of all-time is Tiger Woods,” he said. “I know he isn’t out on tour right now, playing and winning events like he was, but the way he played when he was at his peak was how I got into golf.”
McCord used to watch Woods play, and loved the way he lapped his opponents on the links, usually walking away with a big win.
“I’d like to say I took a mindset from Tiger when I was in high school,” McCord said. “And [it] even creeps in my head now. Every time I step on the tee, I feel like I’m the best player in that event, even if it is not true. That mindset has allowed me to thrive and play to my best ability in every event. I owe that to watching Tiger Woods.”
Happy with his game, his mindset, and his team, McCord is more than ready to get going.
The Jones Cup is a 36-hole team competition, with two stipulated 18-hole rounds. The lowest four out of five players will count for the team score.
The Titusville local tees off in the opening round, Tuesday.
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