William McGirt, the Spartanburg resident and former Wofford College standout, is fast becoming a familiar face on a grander scale.
The 37-year-old McGirt gave himself a popularity boost when he took a brief turn atop the leaderboard in his debut at the Masters.
“Yeah, I guess only the die-hard golf fans kind of knew who I was, but after those first couple of days it was kind of there for everybody to see,” McGirt said.
McGirt sat alone in second place at Augusta National after an opening-round 69 but lost ground with a 73, then back-to-back 74’s to close the round.
“People don’t realize how hard Augusta was on the weekend,” McGirt said. “It’s crazy to say, as difficult as it was, but I wish the wind had kept blowing. To me it was a little bit easier when it was blowing 30 miles an hour.
“All of my prep work was done in those kind of conditions and I was just standing out there didn’t have a clue what to do with no wind, having to fire at pins.”
Still, it was a memorable Masters debut.
“It was a blast,” he said. “We enjoyed every single minute we were down there. That’s a tournament I’d love to make a regular on my schedule. It’s my favorite place on earth and my favorite tournament. That honestly was the most enjoyable experience I think I’ve ever had on the golf course – I’d put it right up there with winning Jack’s tournament (The Memorial) last year.
“It’s a good goal for us this year to win or stay in Top 50 in the world so we can go back next year.”
So far, so good. McGirt ranks 48th in the World Rankings and 58th in the latest FedEx Cup standings, has three top-10 finishes this season, including a tie for third in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.
He will defend his Memorial title starting Thursday.