McCoy leads Scotland’s Robert Jenkins by one shot after the Royal Troon member recorded a 67 on the Championship Course.
US players Robert Clapp and Lee Porter share third on one-under after both shooting a 69 around the Struie and Championship courses.
McCoy arrived in the north of Scotland safe and sound but sadly his clubs didn’t. The 59-year-old borrowed a putter and a few wedges from the Dornoch club professional but had to travel down to Inverness to buy the rest.
He managed to put them to good use in his first competitive round over one of Scotland’s greatest championship links.
Par save settles the nerves
McCoy’s first competitive hit with his new kit didn’t pay immediate dividends.
“My first shot, I hit it in one of the fairway bunkers and had to blast out, but I hit a good wedge to four feet and saved par,” McCoy said.
“That kind of settled me down and I stayed patient. I putted well and kept the ball in play the rest of the way. Other than the first, I was steady all day.
Elliott provides inspiration
McCoy is good friends with fellow Des Moines native and defending champion, Gene Elliott.
He credits last year’s champion, who returned a 74 over the Struie layout to sit eight shots behind McCoy, with giving him renewed inspiration despite a distinguished career that’s seen him win the 2013 US Mid-Amateur Championship, finish low amateur in the 2014 and 2015 US Senior Opens and play in the 2015 Walker Cup.
“Gene’s my next door neighbour and we’re good friends. We play a lot of golf together. To see what he did last year in winning at Ganton and then adding the US Senior Amateur was inspiring for me.”
Walker Cup responsibilities
McCoy was named captain of the USA team for the 2023 Walker Cup, and will lead America’s ten best players over the Old Course next year. He says the job starts in earnest next week when he travels to St Andrews to attend meetings during The 150th Open.
“We’re just getting started with all of that and it will be good to meet my counterpart, Stuart Wilson, next week. I’ll start getting an idea of the schedule and logistics. So it’s easy to play golf right now, but it might be a bit more difficult once we get closer to the Walker Cup.”
He may just turn up for next September’s match as the R&A Senior Open champion.
Hole-in-one with borrowed clubs
McCoy wasn’t the only American to turn up in Dornoch without his golf clubs.
Scott Almquist did too, but it didn’t stop the 57-year-old finishing his three-over-par 73 round on the Struie course with some panache.
Almquist holed out on the par-3, 18th with an 8-iron for his eighth ace.
“It was into the wind and landed an inch from the hole, went about six inches and spun back into the hole,” Almquist said. “I was surprised because I’m playing with rented clubs and I find it hard to shape the irons.”
He finally found the right shape on the 18th hole.