Charlotte Native Corey Nagy Returns to Winner’s Circle at eGolf Gateway Tour’s 12th Annual Cabarrus Classic

Corey Nagy

By Stewart Moore

Concord, N.C. – Corey Nagy of Charlotte, N.C. burst onto the developmental tour golf scene in 2011, winning three times on the eGolf Gateway Tour to claim the season-long money title over current PGA TOUR member Jason Kokrak.

Since then, the former UNC Charlotte star has battled a handful of setbacks while playing his way up to and down from the Tour and eventually back onto the eGolf Gateway Tour.

At this week’s 12th annual Cabarrus Classic, the talented Nagy began his march back towards golf’s big show, posting rounds of 66-67-65—198 for an 18-under-par total and a four-shot victory – his first in nearly four years on tour.

Nagy began his final round at host Cabarrus Country Club at 11-under-par 133 – one shot back of 18- and 36-hole leader Dykes Harbin of Augusta, Ga., who paced the field with a 63-69—132 start to his week.

Harbin, who won the tour’s Willow Creek Open in May, birdied Nos. 1 and 2 to reach 14-under for the event, but fell victim to an errant tee shot on the par-4 third that wound up in a hazard roughly 40 yards left of the fairway.

The early-round hiccup delivered a triple-bogey for the former South Carolina Gamecock, and opened the proverbial door for Nagy.

“It was great to get off to another good start, but that was a crazy thing that happened there,” said Nagy, who birdied Nos. 1 and 3 to take the lead at 13-under par. “On paper, it’s easy to say that was a big turn, but to me, I knew he was a good player and he was going to come back. It swung momentum my way, but I still wanted to keep pushing.”

Corey NagyCorey Nagy

To Harbin’s credit, he bounced back immediately with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 to tie Nagy at 13-under par with 13 holes to play.

Nagy, who played hundreds of rounds at Cabarrus during his standout 49er career, took outright control of the tournament with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to turn in 4-under 32, and a follow-up birdie on the par-4 10th to vault to 16-under for the week – two shots clear of Harbin, who turned in 34.

The torrid mid-round stretch was inspired by another Queen City athlete who went on blistering tears throughout the recent NBA season.

“It’s funny, I thought about Steph Curry all week. His performance this year has been unbelievable. Being pretty good friends with him, and a Charlotte boy, it’s inspiring to see what he’s done,” said Nagy, referencing the 2015 NBA MVP. “So with the putt on No. 7, I thought about Steph. With the putt on No. 9, thought about Steph. I did it again on 10 as well. I mean, that guy made 77 free throws in a row in practice this year, and he puts in work to make it happen alongside his great feel, so he definitely helped me this week.”

Nagy birdied the watery par-3 15th to reach 17-under par before seizing a four-shot cushion when Harbin bogeyed the uphill par-4 16th.

After the duo matched pars on No. 17, the win was a mere formality for Nagy, who hit a wedge to 2 feet on the par-5 18th to lock up one more birdie for a final-round 65 and an 18-under-par total – good for the victory and the event’s $11,500 first-place prize.

“I was really just focused on me all day. I was carrying over the good feelings I had from the first two days,” said Nagy, who played all 54 holes bogey-free. “I said, ‘As long as I stay patient, it should be another solid day.’ I wanted to hit each shot with conviction and not hit anything lazily, which I felt as though I had done recently.”

Nagy’s self-diagnosed laziness struck with a thump at last week’s Southern Open, where a missed 2-foot putt on the 36th hole left him one shot shy of making the cut, and beyond the point of furious.

“I knew that was to make the cut, and I missed it. That was probably the worst thing that has happened to me in my golf career, because I love that course so much,” said Nagy of host The Club at Irish Creek. “It was, however, extremely motivating, because I went straight to Charlotte Country Club and just practiced and practiced and practiced. That was the maddest I’ve ever been. There was a lot of ‘let’s go’ as I just re-focused myself.”

Dykes HarbinDykes Harbin

The road back to victory was a long one for Nagy, who qualified for the 2012 Tour via Q-School in December of 2011, but fell victim to a bout of vertigo that shortened his rookie season.

The following year, Nagy notched three top-25 efforts on the PGA TOUR’s developmental circuit, but still wasn’t quite himself after proving his worth to the golfing world through four “All-America” seasons at UNC Charlotte and the three-win campaign on the eGolf Gateway Tour in 2011.

“You have to climb the ladder – you don’t just get there. 2011 was a perfect year for me, with three wins and some good money in my account. Then 2012 was a tough year – I thought I’d win three times, move up to the PGA TOUR and into the Hall of Fame, but the golf gods didn’t feel that way,” said Nagy.

Nagy entered 2014 with conditional status on the Tour, but made just one start at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. He spent the majority of his weeks chasing Monday qualifiers in between eGolf Gateway Tour events, where he produced three top-25s in eight starts.

Entering 2015 without status for the first time since 2012, Nagy posted two top-25s in four starts on the eGolf Gateway Tour entering the week at Cabarrus, where his season – and his outlook – changed for the good.

“I’ve worked really, really hard to try and get back. I know I’m playing well. This game is really just keeping at it and knowing the door is going to open at some point,” he said. “So hopefully I continue to play well this year and into next year. The game is good, the health is great, so maybe it’s all turning now.”

Harbin wound up with a 14-under 202 total, good for solo-second-place honors and a $7,215 payday.

For Harbin, the runner-up finished was the second of the year, dating back to a playoff loss at the Mid Pines Classic in March.

The 24-year-old, who wound up closing the week with a 2-under 70, has now amassed earnings of $43,094 to sit at No. 5 on the tour’s 2014-15 money list.

Harbin earned five top-25 finishes in his first 17 starts on the eGolf Gateway Tour, but has since racked up seven top-25s in his last 11 events – including the win and both runner-ups.

Four-time tour winner Matt Ryan of Santa Clarita, Calif. and tour newcomer Caleb Sturgeon of Laurens, S.C. tied for third at 11-under par. Both players earned $5,250 for the week.

Matthew RyanMatthew Ryan

Ryan, who earned his most recent win via a playoff at the Forest Oaks Classic in April, played bogey-free golf on Friday en route to a closing 69.

The T3 marked the third top-5 of the year for the 28-year-old lefty, who missed four straight cuts following the Forest Oaks win and entering the week in Concord.

Sturgeon, a former teammate of Harbin’s at South Carolina, finished his USC career last month, where he ranked third in scoring average on the team’s powerhouse NCAA squad, which ranked inside the top-10 nationally throughout much of the year.

• The tour would like to thank Cabarrus Country Club head golf professional Ken Guilford and his staff for their help in coordinating this annual event. A special thanks goes out to head golf course superintendent Tim Davis and his crew for a fantastic job in getting the golf course ready for play each day, especially coming out of such a tough winter in the central North Carolina area. The putting surfaces were some of the best of the year. Finally, the tour would like to thank the volunteers and members of Cabarrus C.C. for allowing the tour to utilize their course for the week. Without their support, the event would not be possible.

• The tour will take next week off before returning to action for the Verdict Ridge Open, to be contested at Verdict Ridge Golf Club in Denver, N.C. on July 29-31, 2015.