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Men’s Golf: Scodro looks for top golf title

Andrew Gastelum | Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Three years went by fast for senior Max Scodro — too fast.

The awards piled up, as did the priceless experience gained from golf tournaments as a freshman that seem so far away to the Chicago native now.

“It’s pretty crazy seeing the freshmen come in each year,” Scodro said. “I just remember being in that same spot, trying to do whatever I could for the team. It definitely flew by.”

A veteran senior equipped with a sage-like mentality of the game, Scodro claims to still have a lot to learn.

Coming into the season, Scodro ranks as one of the top golfers in Notre Dame’s history and boasts the third best career shot average of just under 74. The senior has also been listed on the all-Big East team in each of his three years and earned the title of Big East Player of the Year last season.

Yet something was still left unchecked on his college to-do list: the U.S. Amateur national championship.

“[The national championships] are on every college golfer’s checklist,” Scodro said. “It’s just something that you have got to do. It meant a lot to me with all of the things that I have accomplished, but it was something for me to do on a personal level.”

This year was his last chance to represent Notre Dame at the U.S. Amateur national championship, one of the biggest stages for a collegiate golfer.

Scodro played at the British Amateur national championship, where he missed the cut after the first few days of action. The international experience, Scodro said, shaped his game and kept him focused on the big prize.

“The tournament had a huge field with early cuts, and I just sort of played myself out of it,” Scodro said. “But it made me more patient in my approach, and it definitely helped me to keep moving on.”

Scodro’s shot at the U.S. Amateurs came during a two-day amateur qualifying event in Michigan, where only the top three golfers from the region advanced to the national championship. But it seemed as though, once again, the righty shot himself out of the competition by carding a 75 (+5) on the first day.

But rather than immediately folding, Scodro pushed forward with a simple approach.

“I definitely knew that it was going to be one shot at a time,” Scodro said. “I just needed to try to keep it going and clean up my game a little bit.”

And that he did as the Ping All-Midwest selection rattled off a 67 (-3) on the same course the next day to place him in a three-way playoff for only two remaining spots. One phenomenal chip shot later sent the senior into the opening rounds of the national championship, adding a check to the list. 

“It seemed like a basic chip, so I played it aggressive because I knew that I could do it,” he said.

But the result of his U.S. Amateurs appearance was a draw against the No. 1 amateur golfer in the world, UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay — a 21st place finisher at the U.S. Open, ahead of Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els among others.

“I was pretty excited to go up against the number one [amateur golfer],” Scodro said. “It was a good opportunity to measure myself to a player of that caliber.”

Though Scodro lost to Cantlay in the next round, the experience was indispensable, especially for a veteran returning to defend a Big East title and looking to add more hardware to an already extensive collection.

“Amateurs was just an amazing learning experience for me,” he said. “Hopefully now we can repeat with a Big East championship and fight for that national title.”