Fueled By Setbacks, Strickland Makes a Name for Himself September 14, 2016 | Elverson, Pa. By Dave Shedloski

Serving as a caddie at last month's U.S. Amateur on his home course inspired Scott Strickland for this week's championship. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. Mid-Amateur Home

On Monday night, after winning his Round-of-64 match in the 36th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, Scott Strickland headed to the practice putting green at Stonewall. There he bumped into defending champion Sammy Schmitz, and he introduced himself.

“I knew who he was but he had no clue who I was. And understandably so,” Strickland said with a huge smile. “It was pretty cool. He was very kind, and we had a nice chat. I saw later that if I made it by Carl [Santos-Ocampo] on Tuesday morning I was going to run into Sammy in the afternoon. I didn’t figure I had much of a chance, but I also didn’t have anything to lose. And here I am.”

Yep, here he is. Strickland, 34, of Birmingham, Mich., is still alive in the U.S. Mid-Amateur after rallying to register a pair of 1-up victories, including his defeat of Schmitz in the Round of 16 Tuesday afternoon at Stonewall’s Old Course.

And for this he can thank his failure to qualify for the U.S. Amateur last month, a huge disappointment given that it was held at his home course, Oakland Hills Country Club. Strickland fell short by two strokes and figured he was going to spend the week as a spectator.

Then he met Harrison Endycott, the 2016 Porter Cup champion. Endicott’s caddie ended up having to return to Australia for a family emergency and Strickland volunteered to take over his bag.

“I threw it out there to help him. He didn’t know I could play a little,” Strickland said. “We played a few holes at Bloomfield Hills CC, where my parents are members. We had a good time and he realized I wasn’t a 20-handicapper and that maybe I could help him out a little bit being a member at Oakland Hills. We had a really fun two days.”

Endycott ended up missing the cut, but Strickland learned a great deal from the talented Aussie, including a few new short-game tricks. But more importantly were the intangibles.

“Watching him hit balls for two days, watching how he warmed up, how he carried himself … all these things made an impression. The guy clearly has talent,” Strickland, a product of Miami (Ohio) University, said. “It helped me realize how I could step up my game a little bit.

“You play with a guy that talented and you see that he hits bad shots, too. You realize you just have to get over them, and that’s something I don’t do. I let bad shots fester too much, but I haven’t done that this week.”

Indeed, that new attitude helped him rally late in both matches. He also carried some good vibes from another setback. Reverse psychology is getting a workout in Strickland’s mind.

“I lost in the finals of the club championship back home, and the pro, Steve Brady, who is a great friend and a big help to me in my golf game over the years, says, ‘Well you’re going to have a great time down at the Mid-Am.’ I didn’t think much of it, but maybe he knew something.”

Strickland meets co-medalist Michael Muehr in the quarterfinals at 7:15 a.m. EDT Wednesday, another daunting challenge. He first had to find a way to get his feet back on the ground after an overwhelmingly successful day on the course.

“This wasn’t totally in the plans … quarterfinals, beating the defending champion, TV … kind of overwhelming,” the wealth advisor remarked after being interviewed by Holly Sonders of Fox Sports.

He seemed to know just what to do. He and his father, Tom, who is also his caddie this week, were probably headed to Bonefish Grill for dinner. “We’ve been there the last two nights, and that seems to be working. So I guess we’re going back for more Bang Bang Shrimp,” Strickland said. “I mean, why stop now?”

Why, indeed.

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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