The United States Mid-Amateur is a national golf championship for players age 25 and older.
It's typically a fall-back position for players who weren't quite good enough to turn pro after college or former pros not quite good enough to stay pro.
What it's typically not is a launching pad to pro golf.
But Kenneth McCready, a victim of injuries not befitting his football fullback physique that kept him away from golf for six of the past nine years, is on his own timetable.
Eight months removed from not picking up a club for two years, McCready advanced to the semifinals of the Mid-Am earlier this month in Birmingham, Ala. A year removed from sitting in a wheelchair after having cadaver ligaments transplanted into his right ankle, he was two wins from qualifying for the Masters.
McCready, 25, lost in the semifinals, but his resolve to try pro golf was cemented. He plans to make next month's Southern California Open his first pro event and spend the next year gearing up for the Web.com Tour qualifying tournament.
"I had been out for so long, I need to work my way back up," he said of the timing to turn pro.
McCready grew up in Placerville, where he was an outstanding high school player at Union Mine before he missed two seasons after breaking his back in a snowboarding accident. His college golf career was off to a promising start at the University of San Diego before he damaged his right shoulder playing football and right ankle playing soccer with his golf teammates. He was able to play just four of 10 semesters for the Toreros.
He swears he's not fragile. At 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, he doesn't look it. (He does look like PGA Tour pro Ryan Moore from his swing to his shoes, but that's another story.)
"I don't know what it is," he said. "I just get hurt. It's not like I'm clumsy or anything."
The forced time away from beating balls had benefits, McCready said. He read about the game. He played it over in his head. He appreciated playing more than ever.
"It's crazy, but it made my mental game so much better," he said. "It slowed down for me. I'll shank a shot and just laugh. I literally will be over the ball smiling, which is kind of ridiculous, but I find myself doing it. I love it too much to get mad."
Clutch play from golfers with local ties continued last week in the first stage of Web.com Tour qualifying.
In Dayton, Nev., Jake Johnson birdied his final hole to advance to the second stage without a stroke to spare. This is the Cameron Park resident's first crack at "Q school."
Gold River's John Catlin, who turned pro just a few months ago, finished third at Dayton Valley. Journeyman pros Erick Justesen and Scott Gordon (Fair Oaks) were also among the qualifiers.
Elk Grove's Cameron Rappleye failed to advance.
In The Woodlands, Texas, Rancho Murieta's Grant Norton rallied with a final-round 4-under-par 68 to advance. Norton's 68 tied for low round of the day.
El Macero's Tyler Raber did not qualify.
The second stage is next month at six sites across the country.
The high school girls postseason figures to be entertaining over the next few weeks, if Monday's first round is an indication. Whitney's Kelsey Ulep shot a 7-under-par 64 at Empire Ranch to come within a shot of the course record. Roseville's Virgie Velazquez shot a 2-under 70 at Rocklin and Vista del Lago's Emilee Hoffman shot a 1-under 71 at Diablo Grande.
Roseville's Shanon Hoyt and Lincoln's Tim Scott are in the 30-player pro/elite field for this weekend's Speedgolf World Championship at Oregon's Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. First prize is $15,000. Score in Speedgolf is strokes plus minutes and seconds. The event will be webcast live Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon on Oomba.tv and at bandondunesgolf.com.
The closing three holes at Del Paso, host of the 2015 U.S. Senior Open, were shorted 67 yards in a note last week that detailed pro Scott Simpson's positive impression. The world's best 50-and-over pros will play the par-4 16th hole at 494 yards, the par-3 17th at 225 yards and the par-4 18th at 454 yards, each with a carry over water.
Call The Bee's Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.