Scheffler, Scots Look For History in Austin

Highland Park senior Scottie Scheffler will attempt to win his third 4A state title this week. (File Photo: Chris McGathey)
Highland Park’s Scottie Scheffler will attempt to win his third 4A state title this week. (File Photo: Chris McGathey)

Nobody could blame Scottie Scheffler if his mind was elsewhere. The golf phenom will tee off in at least two PGA Tour events this summer as well as the U.S. Amateur Championship.

He’s preparing to graduate from high school and enroll at the University of Texas, where he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Dallas standouts Justin Leonard, Harrison Frazar, and Jordan Spieth.

Yet the main focus for the Highland Park High School senior is on defending the individual and team titles at the UIL Class 4A state tournament this week in Austin. He has a chance to make history by becoming the first HP player to win three individual championships, and he will be the favorite to do so.

Still, for a golfer of Scheffler’s stature, the state tournament might lack in prestige, but he doesn’t see it that way, citing loyalty to his school and his teammates as primary sources of motivation.

“It was really fun winning last year with the guys, and that’s something I would like to do again,” Scheffler said. “We’ve been improving as a team. It’s all starting to come together now.”

That bodes well for the Scots and for Scheffler, who is rounding into form after taking some time away from the links during basketball season. He has played in almost every event for the Scots this season, when he’s not competing in more prestigious events elsewhere.

“The fact that he’s so team-oriented adds a little extra drive. That certainly makes it easier,” said HP head coach Jeff Loyd. “When you get a player of that caliber, that’s going to elevate the game of the guys behind him.”

After the state tournament on Monday and Tuesday, Scheffler will compete in the Byron Nelson Championship in May on a sponsor’s exemption. Three weeks later, he will play in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis. He also plans to enter U.S. Open qualifying and to make a repeat appearance at the U.S. Amateur, where Scheffler reached the match-play round a year ago.

As for the Scots, they will be the heavy favorite to repeat at state after winning the crown last spring by a dominant 25-stroke margin over Cedar Park. Four of the five members of that team are back this year, including Scheffler, Drake Turnbull, Charlie Click, and Jake Potter.

Scheffler won by three shots last year, while Turnbull, Click, and Potter each finished in the top 15. That means a repeat is more than possible — it’s likely.

“It helps with the experience,” Loyd said. “Anytime you can familiarize yourself with the pressure of a state tournament, that’s a plus. I think the guys will be confident.”

Loyd said the HP players went to Austin during spring break to play a few rounds at the University of Texas Golf Club, which will be a new venue for the 4A state tournament this spring. Click hopes that familiarity with the course will pay off.

“We’ve had a few hiccups this year, but we’ve turned it on in the last few weeks,” Click said. “We’ve been playing a lot better.”

Potter had surgery in early February to repair a dislocated kneecap he suffered while playing a pick-up basketball game. He assumed at the time that his competitive golf career was over, but now he expects to be cleared to play in time for the regional and state tournaments.

“It was the best news I’ve had in a while. It was definitely not expected,” Potter said. “I was disappointed I wasn’t going to get to play. Now I hope I can go out on a winning note.”

Although golf is an individual sport by nature, Loyd said the Scots have embraced the team concept, as well as the expectations within the program.

“We’ve had the bull’s-eye for a long time,” he said, “and that’s a good problem to have.”

On the girls side, HP’s Layne Anderson will compete as an individual qualifier at the state tournament after finishing seventh at the regional meet earlier this month.

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