Athlete of the Week: Vaugh aims to live up to nickname

mbgolf-vaughLike most freshmen playing a varsity sport, Myrtle Beach High golfer Keegan Vaugh was given a nickname by his coach and teammates. Fortunately for him, it’s a positive one.

“They call me Little Rory (McIlroy),” said a slightly embarrassed Vaugh, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his recent performances on the links. “I think it’s just because the hair sticks out of my hat.”

But the similarities don’t stop there. In addition to the hairdo, the young and talented Vaugh’s golf game bears a striking resemblance to the former No. 1-ranked golfer in the world.

“I know Rory … and I started calling Keegan ‘Little McIlroy’ because they look alike,” said Myrtle Beach golf coach Lowell Counce, who pinned Vaugh with the moniker. “Sometimes (Keegan) plays like him too.”

Although Vaugh knows he is a long way from reaching his nickname-sake’s level, he has shown flashes of an up-and-comer on the local junior circuit and as a solid contributor on a talented group of Seahawks.

“We have a lot of really good players,” Vaugh said, sharing the credit with his teammates. “I think we have a really good chance to win the state (championship).”

In addition to his team’s strong season, Vaugh has also experienced some individual success on the junior golf circuit. He recently shot a low round of 68 to win a two-day junior tournament at the Barefoot Golf Resort’s Norman Course, and he finished sixth in the S.C. Junior Golf Association’s Caddies Classic on Sunday at the Members Club at Wildwood.

On the high school circuit, Vaugh recently earned second medalist honors at the Panther Invitational at the Hackler Course earlier this month. His nine-hole average for the season is just above par at 38 – not bad for a kid who only picked up the clubs after relocating to GolfTown USA.

“My family moved here from Virginia seven years ago, and I only started playing about four years ago,” Vaugh said. “I just tried playing golf after I moved here and I really liked it.”

Like even the most seasoned golfers, Vaugh is still struggling with consistency. He closed Monday’s match against Carolina Forest with a bogey on the ninth hole at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club to finish on a bad note, but he still carded a 38 to help his team to a victory.

“I just try to put the bad holes behind me and move on to the next one,” said Vaugh, pointing at playing partner and medalist Holden Grigg (33). “And my teammates help me a lot too. They always look out for me.”

On Tuesday night, Vaugh will get the chance to return the favor when the Seahawks host a team fundraiser at his parents’ restaurant, Crave. After getting a nickname inspired by a respectable role model instead of something embarrassing, it’s only fair to share a little Italian food with those who call you “Little Rory.”

Photo by Terry Massey

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