DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — William McGirt thought he hit it big when he won the Cabarrus Classic and pocketed $16,000, the second-largest prize on the Tar Heel Tour.
That was in 2007, and it felt like a lifetime ago compared with the perks from winning the Memorial on Sunday.
The victory was worth $1.53 million and a three-year exemption for a guy who once dreamed of simply having a PGA Tour card.
Waiting to congratulate him was tournament host Jack Nicklaus, who raved about the bunker shot on the 18th hole that kept McGirt in the playoff at Muirfield Village, and the flop shot from behind the 18th green that led to a 6-foot putt and his first PGA Tour victory in his 165th try.
U.S. Open qualifying? Take the day off.
McGirt moves up to No. 43 in the world and was assured a spot in his first national championship.
“It will all sink in at some point,” McGirt said.
This was a long time coming.
McGirt couldn’t count all the mini-tours he played and the self-doubts he ignored, including a four-month stretch in which he only saw his wife for four days. But on Sunday against the strongest field of the year for a regular PGA…