Scottie Scheffler raises his game

BROOKLINE, Mass. -- With a 1-up win over 17-year-old Scottie Scheffler in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club, Brady Watt put an end to perhaps the most compelling narrative of the week on Friday.

After Scheffler got into the match play portion of the competition in a playoff on Wednesday, his first two matches went 20 holes. Then in the third round, he came back from 2 down with three to play against Matthias Schwab to win that match.

Scheffler's older sister, Callie, 19, who was his caddie in the tournament, gave him pep talks throughout the week. In the Schwab match, she told him after the 15th hole, "You know what you gotta do, so go do it."

On Friday afternoon after he made a hole-in-one at the 197-yard par-3 seventh hole to take a 1-up lead, it appeared Scheffler was destined to advance to the next round and through to the finals.

The reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion was the youngest remaining player in the field, and after Adam Ball and Brandon Matthews lost their quarterfinal matches on Friday, he was the last American hope to win the tournament.

By the time Scheffler got to the 18th hole all square with Watt, the large gallery that had been scattered on the course had converged around this match. Both players had difficult shots around the green, but Scheffler had the worst of the two as his ball was partially buried in the front bunker.

Only Watt was able to get up and down for par, winning the match and moving on to meet his fellow Australian, Oliver Goss, in one of the semifinal matches on Saturday morning.

"I had a good week," Scheffler said. "If you would have told me last Saturday that I was going to make it to the quarterfinals, I would have taken that.

"I had some good matches, and I'm happy with the way I played."

Though Scheffler won't leave Brookline with the Havemeyer Trophy, he presented a great case for why he will be a formidable presence in amateur and collegiate golf for years to come. That's if he doesn't opt to jump to the pro ranks in a few years like another young Dallas resident, Jordan Spieth.

And with his performance, he gave himself a realistic chance of making the Walker Cup team.

"I've played some good golf this summer, showed I'm good in match play and in team competitions," he said. "I knew if I played well this week I'd have a chance, and I played well, showed some heart and stuff. So maybe they'll pick me."

In a few weeks, Scheffler will start his senior year at Highland Park High in Dallas. When he's not keeping up his A average or playing basketball, he'll likely be working on his game at the Royal Oaks Country Club under the tutelage of Randy Smith, who has worked with a number of tour pros over the years, including Harrison Frazar and U.S. Amateur winners Justin Leonard and Colt Knost. Like Leonard, Frazar and Spieth, Scheffler plans to play his college golf at Texas.

Growing up around Royal Oaks, Scheffler would watch the various tour pros who practiced at the club.

"Scottie would watch them hit out of a bunker and then go in and try the same shot," said his father, Scott Scheffler, who is a stay-at-home dad, while his wife, Diane, is the chief operating officer for a major Dallas law firm.

Scheffler has a great deal of room for improvement, but he has made significant strides in the past year. In July at the U.S. Junior Amateur at the Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., he won the last four holes of the 36-hole final to beat Davis Riley 3 and 2 after being 2 down with nine holes to play.

"That match was the turning point in his life," said Scott Scheffler. "That demeanor that he held through that match, he could have never done that mentally a year ago. He wasn't ready. He showed mental toughness that no one has ever seen.

"And he realized that if he could be good to himself and accept what's going on that he could really take it to another level."

For four rounds at The Country Club, Scheffler took it to another level. He's got a ways to go before he reaches his full potential, but his performance this week is a clear sign that a win in this championship and many other big events is not far off.