The Hindu (Mumbai)

Evenkeeled Scheffler looks to step into another dimension

The 27yearold’s ability to treat success and failure alike has taken him to the top of golf. But while his consistenc­y of top10 finishes is astonishin­g, the World No. 1 knows he needs to win more, especially at the Majors, to be considered the best of


Saturday, March 30, 2024 since Woods, leading the tour in all the important categories from the tee to the green, along with scoring. He had the seventhlow­est adjusted scoring average (68.63) in PGA Tour history — the top six belong to Woods — and finished outside the top 10 only six times in 23 tournament­s.

To stay emotionall­y stable, Scheffler doesn’t spend much time on social media. He also takes precaution­s not to listen or read about himself.

“Let’s say I remember all the good things. Then I walk around with a big head thinking, ‘This is how great I am.’ That’s not good, either,” Scheffler said before his most recent run. “If I read the bad stuff, that’s all I’m going to remember. ‘Scottie can’t putt. He hadn’t won in a year. Is he the best player in the world?’ It’s a losing game.”

Mostly what keeps him grounded are the people around him. His mother has been a chief operating officer for law firms in New York and Dallas, and his father stayed at home with Scheffler and his three sisters.

His wife, Meredith, is pregnant with their first child, due around the end of April. She’s the one who told Scheffler on Sunday morning of the 2022 Masters, when he woke up with tears and selfdoubt, “Who are you to say that you are not ready?” He wound up winning his first Major.

It’s not like I’ve been a bad putter my whole career. Golf is a hard game . ... The more free and loose I can play, especially on the greens, the better off I am

The Woods comparison­s

Golf is always looking for the heir to the throne, and so it’s no surprise that Scheffler has drawn comparison­s with Woods. But the 27yearold has not let it get to his head, aware that Woods spent more than 13 years as No. 1, including a record 281 consecutiv­e weeks.

“Anytime you can be compared to Tiger is really special,” Scheffler said. “But I mean, the guy stands alone. I’ve got 14 more Majors and 70some PGA Tour events to catch up. So I’m going to continue to plod along, try and stay as evenkeeled as I can.”

Scheffler also knows that while his consistenc­y continues to draw admiration, he needs to win more, especially at the Majors. With the sport divided after the advent of LIV Golf, financed by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, only the four Majors see the full roster of great players, and it’s at these iconic tournament­s that Scheffler must prove his superiorit­y.

To do that, he must ensure that his putting stays solid. Long known to struggle on the greens, Scheffler switched from a blade to a mallet putter recently. “I like not having to line the ball up,” he said. “I line this putter up well in the middle of the face. It’s very good visually.”

But as important to Scheffler as the switch to a mallet style was a redressing of his mental game. “It’s not like I’ve been a bad putter my whole career,” he said. “I’ve just gone through a tough stretch. I’m still working on the same fundamenta­ls. Golf is a hard game . ... The more free and loose I can play, especially on the greens, usually the better off I am.”

Scheffler’s newfound strength with the mallet putter may have his competitor­s nervous, but he will know that Augusta’s unforgivin­g, undulating greens will be a fierce test. What he will also know, however, is that he has battled doubts and mastered them previously.

A second green jacket, which will double his Majors tally to two, will confirm his status as the current undisputed top dog in golf. But he will not be getting ahead of himself.

When he stands on the tee on April 11, the only thing he will be thinking about will be his first shot.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India