KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennessee native Jake Sheffield competed at the elite Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals for the Boys 14-15 Group at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
Trucking through three qualifying competitions and then besting nine of the country’s top golfers in his age bracket, Jake not only took part in a rare opportunity for a young golfer, but won it all.
At just 14 years old, Jake walked onto one of the biggest stages in the world.
“Under that pressure, I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, I was just trying to win, but you know reflecting on that night is just kind of surreal that I get that opportunity that so many people don’t,” said Jake.
At the blip in time, little did Jake know he would be coming home from Augusta as a national champion, the most prestigious title he’s ever held.
“Honestly it’s still a little overwhelming for my emotions but you know I’ve watched him for seven years just hit a gazillion golf balls in the cold, in the rain, in the heat, it’s just really neat to see hard work pay off for such a young person knowing that it’s really just gonna serve him well later in life,” said Kevin Sheffield, Jake’s dad.
Jake said the experience started to sink in when he won, but the question of it his time at the Masters will ever fully seem like a reality is still up in the air.
“Maybe never, I don’t know,” said Jake.
Seven years ago Jake didn’t even know if he would still be playing golf at this point. Now, him and his family have a memory they’ll never forget, one too big to fully express.
“That’s actually very hard, I don’t know if I have enough words for that, I mean it’s by far one of the best days of my entire life, I can say that,” said Sheffield.
As Jake’s first coach, the time at the Masters was extra special for his dad.
“Probably meant more to him than it did to me, I think he’s still crying, but you know I think it was a good feeling for him to see you know my success pay off and my hard work,” said Jake.
Going forward to Jake, it’s about making improvements and getting recruited to play in college. Long term, it’s to be right back on the greens of the greats.
If that dream is meet, Jake knows exactly what he would say to his younger self that first had the chance to make his mark in Augusta, “What a journey you know I don’t know where this game will take me but I know I’m on a good path so I just have to stick to it and hope the results pay off.”