NORMAN -- After three years at the professional level, former OU golfer Max McGreevy finally broke through last weekend with his first Korn Ferry Tour victory.
McGreevy shot 21-under-par to win the Price Cutter Charity Classic by one shot over Mexico’s José de Jesús Rodríguez. McGreevy only made two bogeys the entire tournament, both of which came in the third round.
“It was a pretty incredible week,” McGreevy told The Transcript. “It was definitely unforgettable.”
The KFT is the PGA Tour’s developmental tour, and the top-25 players at the end of the season graduate with PGA Tour memberships. This year, the KFT combined its 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so no players will be graduating until August 2021.
McGreevy, 25, grew up in Edmond and was a standout at OU. He played a vital role in the Sooners’ 2017 national championship run, the school’s first since 1989.
McGreevy’s former college competitors, such as California’s Collin Morikawa and Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff, seemed to burst on the scene as soon as they left college. The former Sooner’s journey took a little bit longer.
“You get a little frustrated at times thinking that could be me,” McGreevy said. “But then you kind of have to realize that it’s not, strap your boots back up and get ready to go.”
Golf is more prone than ever to younger players being good friends, so McGreevy admitted he enjoyed watching his peers making it out on tour.
“I love seeing those guys,” McGreevy said.
“Getting to watch those guys do what they’ve done,” he continued, “… and knowing from [being] around them that I’m not that far off and hoping that I can be up there with [them] pretty soon.”
McGreevy was a member of Canada’s McKenzie Tour in 2017. A year later, he joined the KFT, then called the Web.com Tour, where he only made seven cuts and had no top-10 finishes out of 16 events. It ultimately led him to China, where he played on its PGA-sanctioned tour in 2019.
While in China, McGreevy made all 13 of his cuts, winning once and recording nine top-10 finishes. His performance there was good enough to have him win the Order of Merit and to be named Player of The Year, providing him fully exempt status for the 2019-20 KFT season.
“With golf there’s a lot of ebbs and flows, it can be really good for a long period of time or it can be really bad,” McGreevy said. “I think I’ve learned now in my couple years of playing professional golf that you just gotta ride the waves a little bit and not get too down or too up.”
McGreevy said that all the lows he’s been through made him appreciate his win last weekend that much more and provided him with ample validation that his hard work is finally paying off.
“That kind of rewarding feeling that it’s kind of taken off my back a little bit,” said McGreevy, who propelled to No. 8 on the KFT’s top-25 rankings. “I’m really excited to get that behind me … and now that I got a little bit more confidence in my mind and in my body I’m ready to go and hopefully win a couple more.”
OU men’s golf coach Ryan Hybl said outside of the team winning a national or conference championship, having one of his players win in the professional ranks is the next best feeling.
“To be able to watch my guys who we’ve been really [invested in] like Max McGreevy or Abraham Ancer, Michael Gellerman or any of these guys, whenever they go out and do something successful professionally it’s so high up on my list I can’t even explain it to you,” Hybl said.
Even before McGreevy’s time at OU, Hybl said he could always see he truly loved to play golf.
“A lot of the guys who are on the PGA Tour or the Korn Ferry Tour, they don’t necessarily love playing golf, they’re just really good at it and that’s their job,” Hybl said. “Over the course of time, they can kind of flounder a little bit because that passion’s not there. But Max McGreevy loves to play golf.”
Hybl equated McGreevy to someone like Phil Mickelson, who even at 50 tries to go out and shoot a course record every week because he loves golf.
“Max is very similar to that,” Hybl said. “He loves having something on the line and enjoying golf. So, that to me always projected out to a guy whether he makes it out to the PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour or whatever he was going to have some longevity because he truly loved to play golf.”
McGreevy’s ability to make a lot of birdies is another Hybl knew was going to translate over to the professional ranks.
“When he starts making birdies he can reel off five or six in a row,” Hybl said. “That’s a gift.”
McGreevy has always played with a chip on his shoulder, something Hybl said he tries to look for in recruits.
“For his entire life, up until he probably got to our place, he just thought he was never quite good enough,” Hybl said. “I always told him that he has to continue to play with that chip on his shoulder because if he ever thinks that he’s ‘good enough,’ Max probably won’t be that great of a player. He always has to believe that he’s not quite good enough because that gets his engine roaring.”
McGreevy said that the “chip” on his shoulder comes from not alway being in the spotlight as some other guys were growing up.
McGreevy said he is going to use that ‘chip’ on his shoulder to motivate him and push him to the next level.
“Not that I was discouraged by that at all but it made me want to prove myself even more and has made me work harder over the years,” McGreevy said. “Like with those guys who are out on tour now who are early out of college, I kind of wish I was in their spot a little bit. I kind of have that ‘chip’ to go out and prove everybody wrong type of thing.”
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