Dominant Scottie Scheffler happy to 'plod along' as he laughs off Tiger talk

Scottie Scheffler speaks to the media after winning The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images.Scottie Scheffler speaks to the media after winning The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images.
Scottie Scheffler speaks to the media after winning The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images.
On back of historic back-to-back wins in The Players, American is way better than anyone right now

It was perhaps inevitable after he created history by becoming the first person to land back-to-back wins in The Players Championship that Scottie Scheffler found himself being asked if he thought he could go on to be as dominant in the game as Tiger Woods. His answer, delivered with a smile, was every bit as classy as his latest performance at TPC Sawgrass, where he equalled the best closing round by a winner of the PGA Tour’s flagship event with a 64 to pip a strong trio in Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman and Xander Schauffele.

“I think that's a funny question,” said Scheffler. “I'm not going to remember the exact numbers, but like we're playing at Riv (Riviera in Los Angeles in the Genesis Invitational) this year, and I hit my tee ball and this guy yells out, like ‘Congrats on being No 1 Scottie. Eleven more years to go’. Anytime you can be compared to Tiger I think is really special, but, I mean, the guy stands alone I think in our game. He really does. This is my eighth tournament win now out here, I've tied him in The Players Championships. Outside of that, I got 14 more majors and 70-some PGA Tour events to catch up. So I think I'm going to stick to my routine and just continue to plod along, try and stay as even keeled as I can.”

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It’s actually hard to believe that Scheffler hadn’t won on the PGA Tour as recently as early February 2022, but this was title triumph No 8 and there’s not even close to a debate being required at the moment to determine the best player in the world right now. He’s miles ahead of second-ranked Rory McIlroy in the Official World Golf Ranking and, though Joaquin Niemann has certainly been in great form of late, it would be laughable for anyone to suggest LIV Golf has someone playing to the same level as Scheffler. His last over-par round was more than six months ago and, with The Masters on the horizon, there’s a strong sense that he’s looking unbeatable right now.

“I try not to place too much emphasis on results, good or bad,” he said in reply to that being put to him in his post-event press conference on Sunday night in Ponte Vedra Beach as attention turns to the season’s opening major at Augusta National. “I think you can take some positives in the momentum, but, at the end of the day, I'm going to go home, get some rest and continue my prep work for Houston (venue for a PGA Tour event next week). I show up to try and perform my best and hopefully win tournaments, but, when I stand on the tee on Thursday, I'm not thinking about the trophy ceremony at the end of the week. I'm just trying to be committed to the shot and just go from there.”

It’s unlikely to happen but he reckons his wife, Meredith, would have something to say if success went to his head. “If I started taking my trophies and putting them all over the house and walking in all big-time, I think she would smack me on the side of the head and tell me to get over myself pretty quickly,” he said, laughing. “Winning golf tournaments doesn't give me any brownie points at home, so I just try and do my best.”

It would be great, of course, if Scheffler headed the field for the Genesis Scottish Open in July, having teed up in the Rolex Series event at The Renaissance Club for the last three years and tying for third behind Rory McIlroy in the 2023 edition. But, having already indicated that the Olympics being on this year was a factor he had to take into account, it seems that possibility is still up in the air.

“No,” he said after being asked by this correspondent if he’d figured out his summer schedule yet. “We've got a few added factors with the Olympics being there and a baby on the way, so a lot of different stuff going on at home and we're just trying to navigate this new journey together as parents and just do our best.”

His best on this occasion delivered a timely boost for the PGA Tour, which, admittedly not helped by bad weather, had seen TV ratings drop and the cynics taking great delight in that and also being quick to point out that the field for this celebration edition of The Players Championship had a much weaker field than it did before losing the likes of Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson to LIV Golf.

That certainly can’t be denied, but it didn’t stop it from producing the best finish of the year so far around the globe as Scheffler set the clubhouse target with a brilliant eight-birdie closing salvo then US Open champion Clark, Open champion Harman and Olympic champion Schauffele all had chances to force a play-off. I still can’t believe Clark’s attempt didn’t drop as it probably would have nine times out of ten and didn’t deserve to horse-shoe out.

All in all, it was a week that showed there’s actually not too much wrong with golf in the format it is mainly played under at the top of the professional game and, yes, that will have been pointed out by the players directors on the PGA Tour’s policy board in their meeting on Monday - it eventually ended up taking place in the Bahamas and not Ponte Vedra Beach, as had initially been thought - with Public Investment Fund chief Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

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