For a few years Candace Schepperle has been on the verge of a breakthrough in the women’s amateur golf circuit, racking up nine top-20 finishes in major tournaments over the past three years, including a runner-up finish at the 2007 Harder Hall Invitational and the semifinal appearance in the North and South Amateur.
Following a solid sophomore season at Auburn University that saw her rack up a runner-up finish, three 4ths and a 9th place finish in her five events, she realized her game was right on track.
“I had a pretty good fall season, I thought it was just a matter of time,” said Schepperle, a Birmingham native. “What better way to start the season going back-to-back.”
Indeed, Schepperle's start to the new year was about as impressive as one can ask for, winning the first two amateur majors of the season, the Dixie Women’s Amateur and the Harder Hall Invitational.
At the Dixie, Schepperle carded three consecutive rounds in the 60’s, then had to hold off a late charge from one of the top juniors in the country, Alexis Thompson, to take a one-stroke victory.
There was no such late challenge to be had at the Harder Hall, as she fired a tournament-record 7-under-par 65 to dash any hopes her competition had of mounting a challenge.
“I had my own goals for the round and I wanted to stay in the moment until the tournament was complete," she said after the final round. "I’m very excited to win this title and look forward to coming back next year to defend.”
Schepperle went to high school at Hoover High in Birmingham, known as a national football powerhouse but is also home to a top golf program, for two years before home schooling for her final two.
She comes from a golf family, with her father David spending time on the professional mini tours and now serving as her coach and caddy. Her sister Abigale graduated from Auburn in 2008 and was a major reason Candace chose to become a Tiger.
“My sister was already there so I knew what to expect, especially from Coach (Kim) Evans, I really couldn’t have asked for a better coach,” she said. “I love the small-town feel of Auburn, everyone is very supportive of all the athletics.”
Looking forward, Schepperle definitely sees a professional career in her future, and doesn’t seem too intimidated by the prospect. And why should she be, having played in a pair of pro events (Floridas Natural Charity Classic and the Canadian Women’s Open) and making the cut both times.
“It’s something I’ve always looked forward to, it’s my dream,” she said. “I’ve been working as hard as I can to prepare and I’ve played in a few (LPGA) Tour events, seen my game compared to some of the pros and it’s not too far off. Once I become pro it’ll get even better because that’ll become my job.”
We wondered if a professional career could preclude a shot at the 2010 Curtis Cup.
“That’s been my goal for years, if they pick me I’m going,” Schepperle said.
With a pair of amateur majors under her belt less than a month into the season, it’s obvious that she’ll certainly be on the short list players to watch over the next two years.
***** Quick Hits *****
What is your dream foursome?
Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and my sister.
Crooked Stick (in Carmel, Indiana, site of 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur)
Course you most want to play?
Augusta National or Shinnecock Hills
If you could change one golf rule, what would it be?
Probably one rule I would like to be changed or modified is the ability for spectators being able to call a penalty on a player. Golf is about honesty and it's really unfair that a player should be penalized for something he or she could not call on themselves.
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
Most people probably wouldn't realize it from the way I prepare on the golf course (I'm a little of a perfectionist), but I'm really the world's worst procrastinator.
Besides the golf course, where is someone most likely to find you?
Hanging out with my teammates, cooking (Italian food).
Favorite sports team
The Jets, because my dad is from New York.