This was supposed to an off week for Tyler McCumber. Fresh off missing the cut in last week’s Korn Ferry Tour event, he wanted to get away, so he did what any other bearded 29-year-old might do: he went to the woods. McCumber packed his car up and drove from the Jacksonville area to the Pisgah Forest near Asheville, N.C., for a socially distant solo getaway. “Just camping and biking around a little bit,” is how he described it.
When he returned on Tuesday afternoon, he became aware of some unfortunate news—that a number of guys were withdrawing from the Travelers Championship due to COVID-19 concerns, and that he now had a chance to get into the event. So long as he could get himself to Connecticut.
“I think I got the confirmation around 3 p.m,” McCumber said, “and the last flight out of Jacksonville was 5:30, so had to pack up in about 25 minutes and head to the airport.”
He made his flight, slotted into Webb Simpson’s spot in a featured group—Simpson withdrew after a family member tested positive for COVID-19—played alongside World No. 2 Jon Rahm and defending Travelers champ Chez Reavie, double bogeyed his third hole of the day … and still shot five-uner 65.
“Felt really good,” he said. “My game felt really good. I’ve been working hard on it and sort of trending. Obviously getting back into some competition and competitive mode after some time off, some little adjustments here and there, but it definitely clicked today.”
McCumber, a PGA Tour rookie, is the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner and 1998 Players champion Mark McCumber. He received his tour card through finishing in the top 25 in the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list last year but has struggled a bit in his debut season on the PGA Tour—his best finish in 14 starts is a T-20 at the Puerto Rico Open. That said, his most memorable day surely came in January at Torrey Pines, where he clipped Tiger Woods 68-69 when the two played together on Saturday.
McCumber has plenty of work to do if he’s to pick up his first top 10 on the season, as the early scoring at TPC River Highlands has been quite low. Mackenzie Hughes set the morning pace with a 10-under 60. But all that’s for later. There’s something a bit more pressing on his agenda.
“Going to take a good nap this afternoon, that’s for sure,” McCumber said. “We got in late last night, and obviously just emotions—sort of an array of high, low, going from not being in, to maybe in, and then sort of not knowing, and then knowing, and then scrambling to get the airport.”