Nease’s McCumber encouraged with 2nd-place finish at Corales Puntacana

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The difference between first and second place at last weekend’s Corales Puntacana Championship was $3.28 million, but that’s all right with former Nease High golfer Tyler McCumber.

He birdied his final hole Sunday at the Corales Course for a closing round of 6-under-66 to be the leader in the clubhouse, but his chance for a first PGA Tour victory ended after Hudson Swafford recovered from a double-bogey at the 13th and a bogey at the 15th hole with a birdie at 17 to win on the Dominican Republic.

“It was a good week,” McCumber said. “I was just really trying to stay in the moment there on the back nine. I knew if I chipped away, with the amount of wind that was blowing, especially with the finishing holes being into, any shot’s sort of stolen down the stretch there if you make a birdie. Yeah, I felt like I stayed really patient and played pretty solid all day, especially the back nine.”

Swafford, the only player to shoot in the 60s in all four rounds, finished at 18-under 270. McCumber (65-71-69-66) was one shot back.

McCumber was tied for the lead after the first round, but he faded during rounds two and three. His comeback on Sunday, however, resulted in a career-best finish, easily out-distancing a tie for 19th place at the 2018 Corales tournament.

“You know, the last time I played here two years ago I was in the last group here, it was actually my first PGA TOUR event and playing with Bryce Garnett when he won,” he said. “I didn’t really have a great Sunday, so I think I had a little bit of motivation going into today to just really try to make as many birdies as I could and sort of stay aggressive. I learned a lot from that final round, being in a good position and kind of not really capitalizing on it, but learning a lot. I feel like I applied that today, which was good.

“Definitely just take the momentum, move on to the next week, for sure. All the stuff I was working on I feel like I did pretty well this week, staying patient and staying focused. So a lot of positives out this week obviously. And hats off to him for a clutch finish, too, birdieing 17 and two-putting from where he [Swafford] did on 18, it’s just really good.”

Mackenzie Hughes (16-under), finished third, followed by Nate Lashley (15-under) in fourth and Adam Long (14-under) in fifth.

The 2020 PGA Tour season officially ended with the Tour Championship Sept. 4-7 at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. With the exception of the U.S. Open the Masters, which were postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 season opened with the Safeway Open on from Sept. 10-13. With only two tournaments in the books, McCumber now is tied for fifth in the FedExCup standings. McCumber said he plans to play in the next tournament, the Sanderson Farms Championship this weekend at in Jackson, Mississippi.

“I think you can take confidence out of it. Keep using that word ‘momentum,’ I don’t know why I like it so much, but yeah, any good finishes out here, try to roll with them and keep it going,” McCumber said.

With a tournament-best 23 birdies, McCumber also won the weekly RSM Birdies Fore Love program to earn $50,000 for his charity of choice.

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