Even-keeled Scottie Scheffler appears to step into one other dimension

The historic Masters Match, held yearly within the first full week of April, successfully units the schedule for the PGA Tour. The dates fall to April 11-14 this yr — the primary time since 2019 — which means an additional event on the highway to Augusta Nationwide. 

In consequence, the highest gamers are having to make some changes — World No. 1 and 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler is on the Houston Open, attempting his hardest to win but additionally fine-tuning his recreation with a watch on slipping into the coveted inexperienced jacket once more. 

Regular Scottie

His title defence got here aside final yr, with the American conceding that he “simply didn’t have it”. Nevertheless it’s a measure of Scheffler’s consistency — an more and more recurrent theme in his profession — that he nonetheless completed in a tie for tenth, eight strokes behind winner Jon Rahm. 

Certainly, it’s Scheffler’s high quality of invariably being in rivalry that makes him so outstanding. Elite sport is performed between the ears — and golf, due to the intense ranges of precision it calls for in a changeable surroundings, is a extreme psychological take a look at. Scheffler’s capability to deal with success and failure alike has allowed him to constantly cope with these emotional challenges.

Simply weeks in the past — proper earlier than he earned $8.5 million for profitable two massive trophies in a span of 10 days and erased any questions on whether or not he deserved to be ranked No. 1 — he spoke about how shortly he can neglect the previous, win or lose.

“I don’t rejoice accomplishments that properly. I don’t really feel like I dwell on failures that a lot both,” Scheffler mentioned. “When you ask my spouse, she would say I have to rejoice extra.”

The celebration after he gained the Arnold Palmer Invitational concerned cheeseburgers within the clubhouse along with his household, adopted by a two-hour drive to the TPC Sawgrass. The day after Scheffler grew to become the one participant in 50 editions of The Gamers Championship to win again to again, he was texting his swing coach about their follow schedule.

The 6’3” American has an enormous recreation, however it’s guided by a process-oriented method. 

“I attempt to not place an excessive amount of emphasis on outcomes, good or unhealthy,” he mentioned. “I present as much as attempt to carry out my finest and hopefully win. However once I stand on the tee on Thursday, I’m not eager about the trophy ceremony on the finish of the week. I’m simply attempting to be dedicated to the shot.”

Main the world

Scheffler’s newest victory on the Gamers pushed him over $50 million for his PGA Tour earnings in simply 5 years. He has been at No. 1 since final Could, and his hole over everybody else is the biggest since Dustin Johnson seven years in the past. Barring harm, he has an opportunity to turn out to be the primary participant since Tiger Woods in 2009 to carry the No. 1 rating for a whole calendar yr.

Scheffler is enjoying nice golf, measured as a lot by his elite ball-striking and alarming consistency because the outcomes. He now has 9 victories towards the strongest fields — certainly one of them a small subject within the Bahamas — within the 25 months since he gained his first PGA Tour title. Equally spectacular is his 65% charge of ending within the prime 10.

Final yr, he had the perfect statistical season since Woods, main the tour in all of the essential classes from the tee to the inexperienced, together with scoring. He had the seventh-lowest adjusted scoring common (68.63) in PGA Tour historical past — the highest six belong to Woods — and completed exterior the highest 10 solely six occasions in 23 tournaments.

To remain emotionally secure, Scheffler doesn’t spend a lot time on social media. He additionally takes precautions to not hear or examine himself.

“Let’s say I bear in mind all the nice issues. Then I stroll round with an enormous head pondering, ‘That is how nice I’m.’ That’s not good, both,” Scheffler mentioned earlier than his most up-to-date run. “If I learn the unhealthy stuff, that’s all I’m going to recollect. ‘Scottie can’t putt. He hadn’t gained in a yr. Is he the perfect participant on the earth?’ It’s a dropping recreation.”

Largely what retains him grounded are the folks round him. His mom has been a chief working officer for legislation companies in New York and Dallas, and his father stayed at residence with Scheffler and his three sisters. 

Tiger’s path: Golf is all the time searching for the inheritor to the throne, and so it’s no shock that Scheffler has drawn comparisons with Tiger Woods. However the 27-year-old has not let it get to his head. | Photograph credit score: Getty Photos

His spouse, Meredith, is pregnant with their first youngster, due across the finish of April. She’s the one who informed Scheffler on Sunday morning of the 2022 Masters, when he wakened with tears and self-doubt, “Who’re you to say that you’re not prepared?” He wound up profitable his first Main. 

The Woods comparisons

Golf is all the time searching for the inheritor to the throne, and so it’s no shock that Scheffler has drawn comparisons with Woods. However the 27-year-old has not let it get to his head, conscious that Woods spent greater than 13 years as No. 1, together with a file 281 consecutive weeks. 

“Anytime you will be in comparison with Tiger is absolutely particular,” Scheffler mentioned. “However I imply, the man stands alone. I’ve acquired 14 extra Majors and 70-some PGA Tour occasions to catch up. So I’m going to proceed to plod alongside, attempt to keep as even-keeled as I can.”

Scheffler additionally is aware of that whereas his consistency continues to attract admiration, he must win extra, particularly on the Majors. With the game divided after the appearance of LIV Golf, financed by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, solely the 4 Majors see the complete roster of nice gamers, and it’s at these iconic tournaments that Scheffler should show his superiority.

Change of gear: If there’s a chink in Scheffler’s armour, it’s his touch on the greens. To address this weakness, he recently switched from a blade to a mallet putter, saying he ‘lines this putter up well in the middle of the face’. | Photo credit: Getty Images

Change of substances: If there’s a chink in Scheffler’s armour, it’s his contact on the greens. To handle this weak point, he lately switched from a blade to a mallet putter, saying he ‘strains this putter up properly in the midst of the face’. | Photograph credit score: Getty Photos

To do this, he should be sure that his placing stays strong. Lengthy recognized to wrestle on the greens, Scheffler switched from a blade to a mallet putter lately. “I like not having to line the ball up,” he mentioned. “I line this putter up properly in the midst of the face. It’s excellent visually.”

However as essential to Scheffler because the change to a mallet model was a redressing of his psychological recreation. “It’s not like I’ve been a foul putter my complete profession,” he mentioned. “I’ve simply gone via a troublesome stretch. I’m nonetheless engaged on the identical fundamentals. Golf is a tough recreation. … The extra free and unfastened I can play, particularly on the greens, often the higher off I’m.”

Scheffler’s newfound power with the mallet putter could have his rivals nervous, however he’ll know that Augusta’s unforgiving, undulating greens will likely be a fierce take a look at. What he can even know, nevertheless, is that he has battled doubts and mastered them beforehand. 

A second inexperienced jacket, which can double his Majors tally to 2, will affirm his standing as the present undisputed prime canine in golf. However he won’t be getting forward of himself. When he stands on the tee on April 11, the one factor he will likely be eager about will likely be his first shot.

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