BRADENTON, Fla. – Every few holes this week, Scottie Scheffler has knelt beside a water cooler and filled up a Ziploc bag of ice.
A few weeks ago at NCAA regionals, the Texas freshman swatted a bush with his left hand. A thorn just so happened to lodge deep in his thumb – so deep, in fact, that doctors can’t remove it, nor can they cut his thumb open, because that would require stitches and time away from the course.
The splinter has caused his left thumb to swell, hence the continual ice baths.
Scheffler said Monday that his thumb hurts “a little bit, not too bad,” but it’s likely no coincidence that his T-33 performance here in the stroke-play portion of this NCAA Championship was his worst result in two months. At best, it's a nuisance at the worst possible time.
Scheffler has arguably been the Longhorns’ best player this season, and he’s one of the leading contenders for national freshman of the year. He won back-to-back titles at the Western Intercollegiate and Big 12 Championship, and had five other top-10s.
After a slow start to this championship, No. 2-ranked Texas has followed up with rounds of 280-284 to earn the No. 4 seed heading into match play. Doug Ghim (T-8) and Beau Hossler (T-10) led the way for the Longhorns, who play Southern Cal in the quarterfinals Tuesday morning.
Scheffler (ranked No. 22 in the country) will square off against USC’s Eric Sugimoto (ranked 170th) at 8:10 a.m. ET.