Humility often colors the words of champions, but in the moments after capturing the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference individual title on Tuesday, Paul VI Catholic junior golfer Patrick McDonald was sincerely trying to wrap his head around what had just transpired.
Two years ago, after McDonald decided to trade in his baseball bat for a set of golf clubs, he endured what he called an “awful” freshman season at O’Connell, his nerves wracked by every tee shot and meaningful putt.
But there McDonald was on Tuesday, cool and composed as he saved par on No. 18 from a bad lie in the rough off the tee for a narrow win at Argyle Country Club in Silver Spring. McDonald’s two-day score of 77-73 — 150 left him one shot ahead of Gonzaga’s Addison Coll. Luke Malanchuk and Tyler Olmstead of Gonzaga finished tied for third at 152 to seal the Eagles’ fourth consecutive team championship.
“I’m still kind of speechless really because I definitely wasn’t expecting to win, to be honest,” said McDonald, who entered the day three strokes out of the lead. “I’d been playing well with my short game, so on 18, I was just trying to get out of the rough and in a good area so I could then chip it close to the flag. After that, I was confident over my next shot and it rolled right next to the hole.”
McDonald’s day started with birdies on two of the first five holes, which put pressure on Malanchuk. Malanchuk held the first-round lead after shooting 74 on Monday.
Bogeys on Nos. 13 and 16 left McDonald scrambling to recover, and recover he did, summoning a clutch short game on the last two holes to secure a pair of pars that sealed the win.
Gonzaga’s team title came with a bit less drama, as the Eagles tallied 611 to finish 16 shots ahead of Good Counsel.
“We talked about winning four early in the year and the guys really came together as a team,” Gonzaga Coach Rob Theriaque said. “I told the seniors that they couldn’t be seniors until this was over, meaning they had to keep their focus, and they did that.”
Both Gonzaga and McDonald’s Paul VI squad will be back in action Wednesday for the Washington Private Schools Championships at the P.B. Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville.