Every college athlete dreams of the opportunity to play with the pros, but very few actually get the opportunity. For Scott Lewis, a sophomore walk-on to the UCSB golf team, the dream became a reality this past weekend when he got his first taste of the pros at the U.S. Open.
Though he finished near the bottom of the field with a final score of 21 over par, the mere experience of participating in one of the most illustrious professional golf tournaments in the country is something Lewis will never forget.
“I didn’t even consider my chances in winning,” Lewis said. “I was a long-shot to make [the tournament], so the goal was just to get there.”
Lewis certainly got there, but the road to making the cut as one of 15 amateurs was not an easy one. After playing out of his mind in both qualifiers, the Henderson, Nev. native was barely edged out of a spot in the tournament.
However, after a back injury left pro Dudley Hart sidelined, Lewis was given the nod as an alternate.
“Obviously I didn’t want anybody to pull out for an injury, but it opened the door for a dream come true situation of playing in a major championship,” Lewis said.
The 20-year-old Gaucho was starstruck from the get-go, sharing the picturesque Bethpage Black course with Ryder Cup teammates Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes in last Wednesday’s practice round.
In Thursday’s opening round, a rain delay caused nearly half of the field to station in the clubhouse, where Lewis found himself surrounded by most of the big names in golf.
“His time in the clubhouse might have been the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to him,” said UC Santa Barbara golf Head Coach Steve Lass.
Lewis even had a run in with a man who many believe will go on to be the greatest golfer of all-time, momentarily sharing the course with world-renowned athlete Tiger Woods.
“We were putting on the same hole and I didn’t even notice it at first,” Lewis said. “I quickly kicked my ball out of the way and said sorry, but he chuckled and told me that I didn’t have to apologize. What he said made me realize that I deserved to be there as much as he did.”
With nearly impossible odds of making it through both qualifying rounds, Lewis had good reason to feel as though he earned his spot. His collegiate Head Coach was certainly impressed.
“Nineteen months ago he was trying to make our team playing at Twin Lakes golf course [in Santa Barbara], and less than two years later he’s playing in the U.S. Open,” Lass said. “It’s just amazing.”
With some more seasoning in amateur tournaments upcoming, the door Lewis was knocking on less than a week ago might have the potential to open up down the road. For now, the soon-to-be junior is content with taking it one step at a time.
“I’m going to play in as many amateur tournaments as I can,” he said. “Hopefully I play well enough for the next few years to where the PGA is an option, but for now, I’m just trying to play as much golf as I can for as long as I can.”