Sean McCarty may as well have just gone to Adventureland or Six Flags.
The roller-coaster ride he would have gotten there would have been less intense than the one he endured Friday at TPC Deere Run. It would have included fewer ups and downs, fewer whiplash-inducing twists and turns. And it would have been over in a few minutes.
As it is, McCarty’s roller coaster ride is still in progress.
He went to bed Friday night without being 100 percent sure that he had made the 36-hole cut in the John Deere Classic.
It looks as though he did. Probably. Most likely.
McCarty’s even-par round of 71 Friday has him at 3-under 139. There were 65 players at 4-under or better and only a handful of the 23 golfers who did not complete their rounds before play was suspended have the slightest chance of moving the cut line.
But the Solon, Iowa, still won’t know for sure until Saturday morning if he has made his first PGA Tour cut since his Tour debut in 1997.
McCarty was less than euphoric but certainly hopeful when he walked off the golf course at about 1:45 p.m.
"It’s been good," he said of the fact that he was even close to making the cut. "It means I can hang with these guys a little bit. … It was tough. This golf course is a little long for me, but I hung in there."
You have to understand what making the cut would mean to someone who is a teaching pro at Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville. He had to open up the pro shop at 6 a.m. Thursday before driving to Silvis to play in his first PGA Tour event since 2013.
He isn’t one of those players who is out there grinding away on Tour every week. If those guys miss the cut this week, there’s always another chance next week.
McCarty’s chances come about once every five years.
At 45, he’s not likely to get many more opportunities.
This is only his eighth time playing in a Tour event. He also has qualified for the PGA Championship Aug. 9-12 in St. Louis, but he got a bonus opportunity when he finished second in the JDC’s Monday qualifying event.
McCarty first played in what was then known as the Quad-Cities Classic in 1997 at Oakwood Country Club. He was just a 24-year-old kid, only two years removed from an All-American career at the University of Iowa, and he got into the field on a sponsor’s exemption. He stunned almost everyone by being only one stroke off the lead after the first round and two strokes back after the second round before fading to finish 23rd.
He hasn’t made another PGA Tour cut since then.
He failed to do so at the JDC in 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013 as well as in the 1998 BC Open and the 2003 U.S. Open.
He said it was especially gratifying to get into the tournament this time because he earned his way in via the Monday qualifier.
He was solid in shooting a 68 Thursday.
But man, Friday was a wild ride.
McCarty started by sinking a 73-yard approach for eagle at No. 10 and adding a birdie at No. 11 to go to 6-under.
His children and dozens of friends and family members jumped up and down, slapped high-fives and cheered wildly after the eagle. He looked like a lock to make the cut at that point.
Everyone calmed down as he bogeyed Nos. 14, 16 and 18, sandwiched around a birdie at 17, to drop to 4-under. He birdied Nos. 2 and 3 (his 11th and 12th holes of the day), but bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6 put him in peril again. When he needed three shots to escape the rough around the green at No. 8, he took a double bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.
McCarty, who is accustomed to riding a cart around the course in PGA Section events, admitted he got really tired.
"No. 8 kind of kicked my tail there …," he said. "I was just kind of leaking oil coming down the stretch."
At 2-under with the toughest hole on the course remaining, he figured he had blown it.
Then he nailed a 322-yard drive straight down the middle at No. 9, stroked an 8-iron to within five feet and finished with his most unlikely birdie of all, walking off the course at 3-under.
Many of the afternoon wave of golfers hadn’t even teed off yet. There was no way of guessing at that point whether the cut would come at 3 or 4.
Asked what he planned to do for the rest of the day, McCarty didn’t hesitate.
"Pray," he said. "Hopefully, it hangs in there. It’s going to be close."
It appeared as though his prayers were answered.
Probably. Most likely.