RICHMOND, Texas – Mike McCaffrey is making the most of his first appearance in a U.S. Golf Association championship.
The 41-year-old from League City, Texas, shot back-to-back 4-under 68s at Shadow Hawk and The Houstonian to capture the stroke-play qualifying medal at this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
McCaffrey completed his weather-delayed second round at The Houstonian Monday morning, and his 8-under 136 total was three strokes better than John Engler, who finished off his second round 1-under 71 the day before.
Paul Simson, at age 60 the oldest player to advance into the 64-player, match-play bracket, finished at 4-under 140, tied with Kevin Pomarleau.
Five players followed at 142, including two-time defending champion Nathan Smith, who is seeking his fourth U.S. Mid-Am title.
Another former champion, Kevin Marsh (2005), also moved on to match play, tying for 29th at 146.
Twenty players shot 5-over 149 and went into a playoff for the final three spots.
Weather has plagued the championship from the outset. After a lengthy delay Saturday, the first round had to be completed on Sunday. A 3-hour, 45-minute stoppage of play on Sunday then forced half the field to complete their second rounds Monday morning.
Match play did get under way at 12:15 p.m. CDT Monday, with the last of 32 matches scheduled to begin at 4:54 p.m.
McCaffrey began his second round on the 10th hole with a bogey, but came back with a birdie at No. 12. He gave that back with a bogey at the 14th, but closed out his opening nine with birdies at 16 and 18. He birdied No. 2 just as play was stopped for the day Sunday due to darkness.
He came out strong the next morning with birdies at Nos. 4 and 5 and then closed out with four pars.
“Coming in, if somebody said they would have given me even par (in qualifying), I would taken it,” said McCaffrey, an account executive for the Maxim Group and a father of five. “So obviously, I’m very pleased with my scores.
“It’s great to be medalist, but the bottom line is you have to win regardless of where you finished (among the 64),” said McCaffrey, who regained his amateur status in February and later won the South Texas Mid-Amateur Championship. “I’m sure Nathan (Smith) and a lot of those other (top) guys feel the same way. As long as they are in match play, they are still going to have to win.”
Earlier this summer, McCaffrey finished third at the Texas State Amateur, which was won for the second consecutive year by former SMU standout Kelly Kraft, who in August captured the U.S. Amateur title and the next month played on the U.S. Walker Cup team in Scotland.