Highland Park senior aims high at Byron Nelson Championship

Posted Wednesday, May. 14, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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When high school amateur Jordan Spieth played the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, he shocked the PGA Tour and golf world in general by finishing in a tie for 16th.

Highland Park senior Scottie Scheffler thinks he can do better.

“I was going to try to get in the top 10,” Scheffler said Tuesday at TPC Four Seasons Resort. “I thought that would be a good goal for me.”

Like Spieth four years ago, Scheffler is in this week’s PGA Tour event on a sponsor’s exemption.

“Obviously there’s a little bit of pressure, but I’m still trying to treat it like it was any other tournament with my preparation and everything,” Scheffler said. “That’s really all I can do, just keep preparing the same way I have been.”

That approach has already garnered Scheffler the No. 1 ranking in junior golf, three consecutive UIL state titles, and a golf scholarship to Texas. Spieth held the same accomplishments in 2010.

The comparison “definitely doesn’t bother me at all,” Scheffler said. “But, I mean, it’s been mentioned for a while and I don’t mind. It’s a pretty good person to be compared to really.”

Harrison Frazar, Martin Flores and Justin Leonard are pros who Scheffler counts as influences to his game. Frazar and Scheffler were practice partners Tuesday.

“I think comparisons are dangerous; I would tell him not to listen to them,” Frazar said. “I would tell him to just go be yourself. Take a deep breath, smile, and just enjoy the moment. You only get to do this your first time once.”

Frazar, a 17-year PGA Tour veteran and, in a previous century, also a UIL state champ at Highland Park, said he has known the Scheffler family for years through teaching pro Randy Smith at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas.

“He used to challenge me,” Frazar said of Scheffler. “I’m guessing he was 10 or 11, and I was playing pretty well at the time. He’d walk out on the range and drop his stuff right next to me and it was like no big deal.”

Higher on Scheffler’s agenda was Tuesday night homework and a Wednesday morning test.

“I have a calculus project I have to do tonight, and I have an aquatic science test in the morning that I have to take,” said Scheffler, who graduates May 30. “If I get a good grade on this, I won’t have to take my final.”

Said Frazar: “ Scottie’s got a great head on his shoulders. He’s a smart kid, I think his golf IQ is pretty high. He’s got good recoverability, and he’s a good putter. So I don’t worry about him. He’s going to do just fine.”

Not all aspiring junior golfers dazzle the competition at the Nelson, though. Tiger Woods missed the Nelson cut as a high school amateur in 1993, shooting a 9-over 149.

Like a Tour regular, Scheffler preaches keeping the ball in the fairway and hitting the greens in regulation.

“Most of the time my approach is just to get it in play and see what I can do from there,” he said.

Eric Zarate, 817-390-7237 Twitter: @zarate_eric

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