Next up, Walker Cup? Scottie Scheffler impresses with strong U.S. Open performance

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Next up, Walker Cup? Scottie Scheffler impresses with strong U.S. Open performance

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Next up, Walker Cup? Scottie Scheffler impresses with strong U.S. Open performance

ERIN, Wis. – Scottie Scheffler had just won the U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp four years ago and was the last American standing at the U.S. Amateur, having reached the quarterfinals at The Country Club. Yet when it came time for the U.S. Golf Association to pick the 10-man U.S. Walker Cup team for the 2013 matches at the National Golf Links of America, the teenager didn’t even receive a phone call.

Two years later Scheffler again was left off the American squad, this time as the first alternate, for the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

Scheffler called those “tough moments.” But he turned them into positive motivation.

“It’s not like I feel like I’ve been snubbed, but I felt like I’ve been really close,” the 20-year-old said. “So definitely to take it to the next level to be on that team would be really special.”

Scheffler, a rising senior at Texas, has done that by making the cut and finishing as low amateur in the 117th U.S. Open. Before his T-27 finish at Erin Hills, Scheffler capped his junior season in Austin with four consecutive top-3 finishes, including a T-3 at the NCAA Championship after holding the 54-hole lead.

And who could forget last summer? Scheffler took down NCAA individual champion Aaron Wise of Oregon in the 2016 NCAA final at Eugene Country Club – Texas, a man down because of an injury to Beau Hossler, lost 3-2 – and the next week won a playoff to sectional-qualify for the U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he opened with a 69 in brutal conditions.

Scheffler, who also was a member of the U.S. team at last year’s World Amateur Team Championships, knows he has the credentials to earn at ticket to Los Angeles Country Club for the Sept. 9-10 matches against Great Britain and Ireland.

“I hope it helps them,” Scheffler said of his Walker Cup chances. “It certainly couldn’t hurt. But that’s up to the committee and all that. All I’m going to do is play golf and see where it puts me.”

Scheffler’s game has reached another level in the past year. Hard work with instructor Randy Smith has minimized Scheffler’s big misses. He’s a lot more consistent, and when he doesn’t have his best stuff, Scheffler can still put a good number on the board.

“You saw it last year at the national championship when he played Aaron Wise in the final round,” Texas coach John Fields said. “He didn’t have his best stuff, and he still was able to get past a great player on his own golf course. And the reason is because he has so much passion. And if you think about it, the guy was a U.S. Junior champion (2013) in match play; he loves it.”

Fields said making the Walker Cup team, along with winning an NCAA title, has been a frequent topic of conversation among Scheffler and his Texas teammates Doug Ghim and Gavin Hall.

“Really truthfully,” Fields said, “everything that they’ve worked on over the course of this last year has been about national championship and Walker Cup.”

Said Scheffler’s sister Callie: “I think it’s something all amateurs strive to do is make the Walker Cup team.”

But she also knows it would mean a little more to her little brother after the close calls he’s had in not making the team.

“It would be a really special honor being on the Walker Cup (team),” said Scheffler, who turns 21 on June 21. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I figured I had a chance about four years ago.”

Said Fields: “He loves everything about what that Walker Cup means.”

There is still a long summer of golf ahead for Scheffler, including starts at the Northeast, Pacific Coast, Western and U.S. amateurs. But he certainly has put up a convincing case.

Now, it’s up to the USGA to pick him.

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