What if Scottie Scheffler won the PGA Championship this week in Southern Hills?
How would we then perceive the 25-year-old Texan, who has won four tournaments (including the Masters last month) since February?
Domination is rare in golf. Tiger Woods has mastered it. Others flirted with him on occasion, but were never supportive like Woods did.
Quietly, Scheffler, who spent his early years growing up in Bergen County, NJ, before his family moved to Dallas, became the sport’s most dominant player, at one point winning four tournaments in six starts.
It wasn’t until last fall that Scheffler was a slightly controversial captain’s choice for the USA Ryder Cup team as he had yet to win a tournament and there were questions about his ability to finish.
He now comes to Tulsa, Okla., for the 104th PGA Championship as the only player in the sport with a chance of winning a Grand Slam in 2022, having won four of the last eight events he has appeared in.
This prompted fellow Texan and PGA Tour player Will Zalatoris to say, “Seeing what he does is obviously borderline Tiger-esque…with the incredible golf he’s played.
“I used to beat this guy all the time,” added Zalatoris, who grew up playing golf with Scheffler. “What I love so much about Scottie is that he’s such a good guy…and it tastes like vinegar coming out of my mouth, considering how much golf we play together, because I love him to death, that’s really cool to see.
“Even the other day I thought I was playing pretty well at a little [charity] event we played here at home [in Texas], shot 66. And he comes up with 63 and it’s like, ‘Damn, man, like having a day off.’ ”
There haven’t been many “off” days for Scheffler, who recently called Southern Hills one of his “favorite” courses in the world. He won a Big 12 individual title during Tulsa as a 2015 University of Texas rookie and shot 6 under 64 in a recent practice there.
Look at the world.
“Yeah, playing the next major, he’s going to feel great,” said Nick Faldo, a multiple major winner and current CBS analyst. “You feel like, ‘Wow, it’s possible.’ “He’s in a good mental state as he literally wins every two weeks. He’s rested well and he’ll be ready to hit the golf course, one of his favorite golf courses.”
Scheffler’s victory at the Masters was underscored not only by the poise he showed leading the tournament most of the way, but also for his honesty afterwards about how he had an emotional breakdown on the morning of the final round, telling his wife he wasn’t sure if he was ready to handle the moment.
“It’s an honesty that we don’t get very often,” ESPN analyst and two-time US Open winner Andy North said this week. “For me, it was shocking that someone would admit that’s where he was. In today’s world of mental health and people who understand how important it can be to make those feelings known. I thought that was pretty amazing, but at first it was kind of shocking that, ‘Whoa, back then nobody would ever admit that.’
“But I think that’s the beauty of so many young players and athletes and people focusing on the importance of having serious conversations about how you feel.”
ESPN analyst Curtis Strange, also a two-time US Open winner, called Scheffler’s personal revelation “part of the inside of baseball.” [that] people like to hear.’
What’s amazing about Scheffler’s admission of weakness is how well he hid it in the cauldron of competition. He walked around Augusta National during the Masters’ most pressure-laden moments, almost expressionless, with the gaze of an assassin.
A win this week at Southern Hills would elevate Scheffler to a place of dominance few players have ever visited. Let the hype begin.
New York Post