It all started when he was 1-and-a-half.
After watching a golf tournament on television, Eric McCardle picked up a stick and swung with perfect form.
At 7 and competing against boys up to three years older, McCardle finished second overall in the Toyota Golf Skills Challenge in Kent.
Now, 20 years later and living in Las Vegas, McCardle, a 2008 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, is ready to take the next step of completing his dream of competing on the Professional Golfers' Association Tour.
Recently McCardle qualified for the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, which is two rungs below the PGA Tour.
Latinoamerica is a gateway tour to the Web.com Tour and its qualifying school. From there, the top players advance to the PGA Tour.
McCardle earned a spot in the PGA Tour Latinoamerica by placing third in a qualifying tournament last month in Mazatlan, Mexico, with a 9-under (72-69-68-70).
By placing in the top 11, he received full status for the year and will be eligible for all of the Latinoamerica Tour events.
"My goal for the year is to make it into the top five on the money list (for the PGA Tour Latinoamerica), receiving my Web.com Tour card for the 2018 season," McCardle said. "Also I will be playing in a few Web.com and PGA Tour Monday qualifiers."
The Latinoamerica Tour, with at least 18 stops throughout Central and South America, began this weekend with the Columbian Open in Bogota.
McCardle has been working toward this opportunity since taking up golf as a toddler.
After a standout career at Oak Harbor High School, he competed one year for Skagit Valley Community College, winning three tournaments and finishing the year with the best round average in the conference.
He won five straight Whidbey Golf Club Men's Invitational titles (2008-12), then played in the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills in Denver in 2012 after earning medalist honors in a qualifier.
He took third in the 2015 California State Open, collecting $6,000, which covered his entry fee into the Web.com qualifying school later that year.
At the qualifying school, he advanced through the first two stages before failing to move on.
He was also the medalist at U.S. Open qualifying tournament in Nevada in 2015.
McCardle has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover the costs of playing on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.
"My goal is $15,000 to get me started," McCardle said. "It will cost me about $40,000 to travel the whole year. Each tournament, with travel and food, costs around $2,000 for the week."
It all began with a swing of a stick.
"I've loved the game for as long as I can remember," he said.
"It's still as fun now as it was then. Competing, improving and working for the next level. It's a sport for life."
That life, he hopes, will include playing with the world's best golfers.
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