Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: After back-to-back second place finishes, Highland Park boys golf hopes depth leads to state title
Only three years have passed since the Highland Park boys golf team last won a state title. The drought just feels a lot longer for a school that once won seven straight Class 4A titles.
But after two years of finishing second, Highland Park will be the favorite to win the 4A title next week at Onion Creek Club in Austin. A victory would put the Scots, winners of nine of the last 13 titles, back where they expect to be.
“It would certainly be a better van ride back than last year,” said junior Scottie Scheffler.
Scheffler shot a two-round total of 4-under 140 to win the individual title by three strokes at Jimmy Clay Golf Course in Austin, but Jake Potter (14th) was the Scots’ next best finish.
Austin Lake Travis, with three players in the top 10, beat Highland Park by 13 strokes. Lake Travis also won a year earlier, when Scheffler and Potter — then a pair of fab freshmen — finished fourth and seventh, respectively.
So what’s different this year?
Well, for one thing, Lake Travis has moved up to 5A. But depth is the bigger difference, Scheffler said.
“The last two years we’ve had good showings from our top guys,” he said, “but really fell off from there.”
Highland Park’s other golfers were 30th, 32nd and 40th last year. This season, the Scots are so deep that they had two teams — Blue and Gold — finish 1-2 at last week’s 4A Region II tournament. That gives Highland Park two five-member teams competing for state titles.
The last two times that HP qualified two teams — 2000 and 2002 — came during the Scots’ run of seven straight state championships from 2000 to 2006. Highland Park also won titles in 2008 and 2010.
The key to success at Onion Creek, Potter said, will be putting, chipping and pitching.
“That’s what Onion Creek’s mostly about,” Potter said. “If you can just get it in the fairways, you’ve got a lot of scoring opportunities.”
Scheffler has already had a lot of incredible golfing opportunities. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur two years ago at 15, and last summer, he competed in the U.S. Junior PGA Championship and was on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team.
Scheffler said on Tuesday that he was recovering from a sprained ankle but that he wasn’t worried about it. “I’ll be fine,” he said.
Another individual UIL title would mean a lot to him, he said, but a team title would mean even more.
“It doesn’t really matter that I won individually,” he said. “When people ask me if we won state last year, I say no.”
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