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Jordan Spieth's ace paid off for Purdue engineering student

Jordan Spieth, right, signs a pin flag for Purdue student Hayden Bauschka. Spieth's hole-in-one last year at the BMW Championship earned Bauschka a scholarship to pay for the rest of his college education. Courtesy BMW

CARMEL, Ind. -- Jordan Spieth insists he didn't do anything. But he's pretty pleased nonetheless by the result -- and what it means for a college student at Purdue whom he met this week at the BMW Championship.

When Spieth made a hole-in-one during the first round of last year's tournament at Conway Farms outside of Chicago, he celebrated by raising his arms in the air and needling his caddie, Michael Greller, as they had differed on what club to use.

It was the second ace of his career on the PGA Tour (he would also make one later in the year at the Hero World Challenge), but it's tough to think the others could have the same kind of impact.

Spieth's ace triggered a $100,000 donation to the Evans Scholars Foundation and the Western Golf Association, which runs the BMW Championship, being played this year at Crooked Stick Golf Club. The WGC has been awarding such caddie scholarships since 1930, the proceeds of the BMW Championship (formerly the Western Open) among the ways it funds the program.

Getting another $100,000 meant doling out one more scholarship for the 2016-17 school year, one that went to Hayden Bauschka, 19, who attended Purdue University on his own last year before being awarded the Evans Scholarship last winter.

"I didn't put him through college; it was the Western Golf Association,'' said Spieth, who met Bauschka on Wednesday before the tournament. "I was just happy to hit the shot and make the 1. To find out that is the benefit and to meet him -- he's an engineering student at Purdue. Obviously it was great to put a face to the act.

"It's pretty special. We don't need cars. We have enough. To see that make a difference was really cool.''

Spieth was referring to the fact that a car is often the prize for a hole-in-one. (An ongoing promotion on the PGA Tour through Quicken Loans allows for a random fan to have a year of mortgage payments made if a player makes an ace.) And the car is given to the player, who typically has the means to afford many. BMW being a car company, a car giveaway would make even more sense. But several years ago, BMW approached WGA president and CEO John Kaczkowski to discuss something like a scholarship that would be more impactful.

They came up with a plan that would have BMW donate $100,000 to the WGA/Evans Scholars Foundation for the first ace made during the tournament. The program has been in effect for four years.

"We figure tuition and housing to be roughly about $25,000 a year,'' Kaczkowski said. "When Jordan made the hole-in-one, it meant BMW sent us a check, and that enables us to provide one more scholarship this school year. We can't give scholarships away that we can't pay for.

"We get a lot of great publicity, a lot of great reaction to this particular scholarship. And it makes sense. You're tying a tour player, a celebrity, to the Evans Scholarship.''

The Evans Scholarship Foundation began in 1930 with funding provided by amateur golfer Charles "Chick'' Evans, who in 1916 was the first player to win the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur in the same year. Only Bobby Jones, in 1930, has done it since. Evans also won the 1910 Western Open and the 1920 U.S. Amateur in a long career that saw him enter the U.S. Amateur 50 times. Evans died in 1979.

Evans had earned several thousand dollars in royalties for various instruction records as well as from sales generated by a golf instruction book. Under the rules of the time, if Evans would have kept the money for himself, he would have forfeited his amateur status and would have had to turn professional for accepting the funds. It was never his intention to play for pay.

But Evans was able to earmark the money for a caddie scholarship program that the WGA administered. From two Evans Scholars at Northwestern in 1930, the program has grown to 935 in college this year at nearly 20 schools around the country. And there are 10,000 Evans Scholars alumni, too.

Bauschka learned in February that he had been awarded the scholarship after an interview process that occurred here at Crooked Stick. He had spent several years working at golf courses, as well as caddying at nearby Prairie View Golf Club. Being a caddie for at least two years, getting the proper recommendations and high school grades as well as showing financial need are all criteria for the scholarship.

"I could have never imagined everything that has happened for me in the last year,'' he said. "I was literally counting trees while at my internship with Duke Realty last summer when I got a call from the WGA telling me that the money from Spieth's hole-in-one would go for my scholarship. I can never express how surprising that was and how grateful I am to everyone who was involved.''

Bauschka paid for his first year of college with money saved from his time working at golf courses. The Evans Scholarship will take care of his tuition and housing through four years at Purdue, where he is majoring in construction engineering management.

An added thrill this week was getting to meet Spieth.

"He was as nice a person as he seems on TV and as everyone has said, was a pleasure to talk to,'' Bauschka said. "After he congratulated me on getting the scholarship, we talked about my pursuit at Purdue, about the 7-iron he hit to make the hole-in-one -- about how his caddie suggested a 6-iron instead.''

Kaczkowski said the hope in getting the word out about the program is that caddying offers another way to grow golf, a big push in the industry today.

"I do think a lot of the discussion around growing the game has kind of missed the boat,'' he said. "The idea of caddying is a great way to make money in the summer, a fun way to interact with adults, learn the game, learn how people handle themselves on the golf course, which is a big barrier to playing the game -- the intimidation factor.

"The idea of kids caddying and learning how the game works and having the ability to play the golf course helps the game. It exposes people to golf and they might try it later in life. If you want future golfers, future members, a caddie program is a great way to help start it.''

Editor's Note: Bob Harig, who caddied at Inverness Golf Club in Palatine, Illinois, attended Indiana University on an Evans Scholarship.