McCulla’s charge to city golf crown ends in record-setting fashion as he breaks scoring mark


Alex McCulla, right, celebrates with his caddie Tyler Bertram after winning the Quincy Men's City Golf Championship on Sunday at Westview Golf Course with a record-setting score of 12-under 130. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The way the late Sunday afternoon sunlight fell through the trees created a spotlight for Alex McCulla to stand in as he was handed the Quincy Men’s City Golf Championship trophy following some of the most dominant play in tournament history.

Then his father, Mike, and sister, Alaina, joined him for a family photo.

It was perfect.

Well, almost perfect.

“Missing one,” McCulla said.

Three months ago, McCulla’s mother — Linda Schmidt McCulla — passed away following a battle with cancer. He hadn’t been home since the funeral, chasing titles throughout the Midwest with the Illinois State University men’s golf team.

So this weekend was the first time he played on his home course without his mom walking the fairways.

“We were coming up 18 and (caddie Tyler Bertram) came up to me and said, ‘She’s here,’” McCulla said. “He said, ‘Nobody sees her, but me and you see her. She’s here.’”

In so many ways, she was. That made what McCulla accomplished extra meaningful.

He shot a 7-under 64 in Saturday’s first round at Westview Golf Course and followed it up with a 5-under 66 on Sunday, posting the lowest score in city tournament history with a 12-under 130. It gave him a three-stroke victory over eight-time champion Adam Pfeiffer and made McCulla the first player ever to reach double digits below par.

Pfeiffer shot a 5-under 66 on Sunday to stay within striking distance and finish at 9-under 133, while Lucas Kane and Jason Traeder tied for third at 1-under 141. Defending city champion Rilee West was fifth at even-par 142.

None of them could catch McCulla, who won his second city title. He shot a 3-under 139 while winning the title in 2019, but this one was pure domination. McCulla’s 12-under broke the scoring record of 9-under shared by Pfeiffer (2013, 2023) and Zach Burry (2016).

“This is my home course,” McCulla said. “This is where I started. That’s special.”

Having his father nearby was special, too. Mike McCulla was a talented golfer in his day, finishing in the top five in the city tournament as a 15-year-old before going on to become a two-time state medalist at Quincy High School.

Having both of his kids home for the summer — Alaina recently graduated from the University of Missouri and will be pursuing a master’s degree there beginning in the fall — has been heartwarming. The embrace he shared with his son after the round was emotional.

“For him, getting to touch the trophy,” McCulla said, “that was special.”

It was possible because McCulla’s putter cooperated.

Illinois State University played in the NCAA regional in Bath, Mich., last week with McCulla opening with a 6-over 77 and finishing the three-round event with a 1-under 70. In the first round, he hit 14 fairways and made 16 of 18 greens in regulation, but he couldn’t make a putt.

“I got rid of that,” McCulla said of the problems with the flat stick. “Kicked it in the face.”

It showed. He played the front nine Sunday in 4-under 32, birdieing four consecutive holes and making sure his lead was never threatened.

“The putter was a little shaky on Saturday,” McCulla said. “I think I definitely progressed pretty much every hole I played. I got a little more solid, a little more aggressive.”

He kept throwing darts to set up birdie opportunities, too.

“Wedge game was really good,” McCulla said.

The entire game was good, which made for an historic 36-hole stretch and a moment the entire McCulla family won’t forget.

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles