After finishing tied for 26th at the 2012 MAAC Golf Championships, former Canisius golfer Michael Carrig knew something had to give. He traveled to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., with aspirations of winning the MAAC crown. Instead, he posted his worst career score at the conference’s championship event.
Carrig, a Buffalo, N.Y., native and the team’s No. 1 golfer, had a long talk with his father after his three rounds at Disney’s Magnolia Course. That conversation helped the younger Carrig realize that playing golf should be fun, and he needed start walking out on the course stress-free if he was going to play they way he knew he could.
“After the MAACs in 2012, I was at a really low point in my golfing career,” Carrig said. I went down there wanting to win and I played three awful rounds. My dad told me to just go play my game and stop setting goals for each round. It sounds cliché, but I thought about it and he was right. So now I just go out there with no expectations and see where I end up.”
That conversation with his dad, and his ability to “just go play golf” helped Carrig throughout his senior year at Canisius and it helped him earn an automatic berth into the 55th annual Porter Cup, which tees off at 8 a.m., July 24 at Niagara Falls Country Club. Carrig earned his spot in the Porter Cup, one of the top amateur golf tournaments in the world, by winning the Little Three championship in September 2012 after he posted a two-round score of 140, highlighted by his career-best score of 67 in the first round at Harvest Hill Golf Course in Orchard Park, N.Y.
This will mark the second time Carrig has played in the Porter Cup, as he was added to the field for the 2010 event as an alternate. He said this time around has a much better feeling for him because he’s been able to think about, and appreciate, the Porter Cup that much more.
“I got the call late last time because another player withdrew the week of the tournament, so I didn’t really have much time to think about being in that field,” he said. “This time around is much more enjoyable for me because I’ve known since last September that I was in the field and I’ve been able to prepare myself.”
Carrig is familiar with the course layout at Niagara Falls Country Club, having played there a number of times in his career, starting with his first men’s tournament at the age of 16, when he qualified for a Buffalo District Golf Association (BDGA) event. He placed second at the 2011 Little Three Championship, which was held at Niagara Falls Country Club and just this past May he won the BDGA Men’s Match Play Invitational at NFCC.
“I like the course at Niagara Falls Country Club and I know where I want to be for pretty much every shot,” Carrig said. “Having played in a tournament setting there in May, I got to see the course a lot because I played five matches in three days. I’ve had some success there in my career, so I just hope to play off that a bit this week.”
As the only player in this year’s field with “Buffalo” listed as his hometown, Carrig is excited to play in the event while representing his hometown and Canisius College. There are a number of other local players in the tournament, including former Canisius player Jonathan Clark, but being from Buffalo is a point of pride for the Bishop Timon - St. Jude High School product.
“I’m proud to say I am from Buffalo,” he said. “It’s a huge point of pride for me. It is also cool that I will have a bunch of family and friends there to see me play this week. It is always exciting to have a group following you as you play.”
The Porter Cup started in 1959 and has attracted some of the top names in golf to Niagara Falls, N.Y., each summer since then. Past Porter Cup champions include Ben Crenshaw (1972), Scott Verplank (1983 and 1985), Phil Mickelson (1990) and David Duval (1992). This year’s field includes Gavin Hall, the 18-year old Pittsford, N.Y., native that recently played in the US Open at Merion, where he was the youngest player in the field. But Carrig is firm on his belief that he is just going to go play golf, as his father suggested. And if he needs a reminder to keep cool mentally, his father, Michael, will be right there with him as he serves as his son’s caddy.
“It is going to be awesome to have my dad as my caddy,” the younger Carrig said. “No one knows my game better than he does. We’ll have the normal golfer-caddy conversations and I’ll bounce stuff off him as we go. I think he’ll be more nervous than me though.”
In addition to the Porter Cup, Carrig will attempt to qualify for the 2013 US Amateur, which will be held at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Aug. 12-18 and he will also take part in the 2013 John R. Williams Four-Ball Tournament at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, the same course that will host the PGA Championship next month.“I’ve decided to postpone my entrance into the real world for a while to play golf,” Carrig said. “I’ve had a pretty good run this season between my time at Canisius and some of the BDGA events I’ve played in. I just hope to keep it rolling this week at the Porter Cup.”