The USGA added 13 players to its roster of national champions in 2013, but some of our favorite stories of the year weren’t necessarily about the winning putt or the turning point in a match. This is the fourth in a six-part series that reviews some of the compelling stories that you might have missed in our 2013 championship coverage.
Scottie Scheffler’s eyes welled with tears and he struggled to get the words out.
Moments earlier, the 17-year-old Texan had been handed the large silver cup as the new U.S. Junior Amateur champion. But the 3-and-2 final-match victory over Davis Riley at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., in which he overcame a late 2-hole deficit, wasn’t the sole cause of this outpouring of emotion.
Seven years ago Ragan, who competed with Scheffler on the Texas Legends Tour, had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Since the two met on the golf course five years ago, Scheffler has constantly remained in touch through phone calls, texts and emails. When Ragan founded a charity, Triumph Over Kids Cancer in 2007, Scheffler actively supported the initiative by constantly talking up the website (www.triumphoverkidscancer.org) and participating in a charity golf event.As a national audience looked on, Golf Channel reporter Steve Burkowski finished his on-camera interview with the new champion by asking Scheffler about James Ragan, his 20-year-old friend back in Houston.
“It likely won’t save James’ life, but it will save many other kids,” said Scheffler after his quarterfinal victory over P.J. Samiere. “He has a chance. Not a great chance, but he’s a fighter.”
Scheffler showed resilience in winning his first major junior title. After a series of runner-up finishes leading into the Junior Amateur, he finally broke through at Martis Camp, a run that included a gritty 19-hole, third-round win over Justin Suh and a 1-up second-round triumph over 2012 Junior Amateur quarterfinalist Maverick McNealy. Scheffler plans to play golf at the University of Texas next fall.
Scheffler, who won the Junior Amateur in his fourth and final year of eligibility, showed where his thoughts were by telling Golf Channel he was thinking about Ragan even as he was hoisting the Junior Amateur Trophy.
In May, Scheffler lost a close family friend, former PGA Tour player Warren Aune, to cancer at the age of 58.
Inspiration can be derived from many places. Scheffler found it in two individuals whose fight was far bigger than his own.