Think Scottie Scheffler’s ‘boring?’ Here’s one pro’s thoughtful response

Scottie Scheffler at the Players Championship

Scottie Scheffler won by five at Bay Hill and looks to defend his title at the Players.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Earlier this week, squeezed between his dominant five-stroke victory at Bay Hill and his opening-round, ho-hum, five-under 67 at TPC Sawgrass, Scottie Scheffler sidled up to the Players Championship podium to face questions from the media.

Among the first: How does Scheffler — World No. 1, Masters champion, defending Players Champion, etc. — stay so grounded?

Scheffler appreciated the premise of the question. The “grounded” bit in particular.

“Well, I think that’s a nice compliment,” he said. “So thank you.”

He cited his faith and his family. He has great parents, he said, and a great wife and great friends. “I’m surrounded by a lot of people that really don’t care very much whether or not I won last week,” he said. Scheffler takes pride in being World No. 1. He also takes pride in knowing he doesn’t need to be.

“Grounded” is the word another top pro used to describe him, too. Max Homa’s pre-tournament press conference quickly shifted to the subject of Scheffler, and he gamely offered admiring analysis.

Homa gushed about his ball-striking (“I’ve never seen anybody hit the ball quite like that every day,” he said) and his short game (“amazing”) and his mind (“seems like he’s really got it figured out”). He added a memory from last year’s Memorial.

“He lost by one, and I think he was like 18 strokes gained putting behind the leader,” Homa said. “That’s terrifying.”

All good stuff. But why is it, a reporter asked, that Scheffler could walk through New York City without being recognized?

“Part of it is I think he’s just an incredibly grounded person,” Homa said. “He’s not going to intentionally put himself in the limelight because his values are great. He’s an amazing husband, future father. [Scheffler’s wife Meredith is due in April.] He’s just a great guy.”

But there are plenty of great guys who aren’t among the best golfers in the world. There are plenty of great guys who aren’t approaching World No. 1 at anything. There are plenty of great guys who aren’t capable of taking over as the face of a sport. Is Scheffler up to the task?

“I saw somebody on the internet say he’s boring,” Homa continued. He argued that’s missing the point. “I would imagine that’s what you would dream of, to become the best player in the world and someone who is going to set records and win a bunch of majors. You want to play as boring of golf as you can, you want it to be as even-keeled as you can. You’d think that’s what you would build in a lab.

“So, I dunno. I would recognize him walking down the street. If I was a fan of golf, I would gawk at how impressive he has been and how great of a person he is, so I’m not sure why it doesn’t seem to stand out as much as others, but maybe you just have to give it time.”

He added one more thing, too: “I think the more people listen to him talk, the more they’ll become a massive fan of him.”

That was appropriate because Scheffler’s pre-tournament remarks were about as forceful and fascinating as he’s ever given in public. There was still plenty of what makes Scottie Scottie, like an aw-shucks compliment of his grandmother’s chocolate cream pie. But there were also takes on the state of the game, on the state of his game and from whom he draws inspiration.

What does he make of the splintered pro game?

“If the fans are upset, then look at the guys that left,” Scheffler said, referring to LIV defectors. “We had a Tour, we were all together, and the people that left are no longer here. At the end of the day, that’s where the splintering comes from,” he said.

Asked about the doubts that come with a stretch of poor putting, Scheffler took us inside his mindset and reminded us (grounded or not) just how much it matters to him.

“At times I think it got to the point where a putt would go in, but if that ball didn’t roll end over end, at the back of your head you’re like, wait, did I really hit that putt good?” he said. “I think sometimes I expected perfection out of myself, and I’m like that in a lot of different things.”

Scheffler said he doesn’t use the line on his ball to line up anymore, which frees him up a little bit from chasing perfection. Still …

“That’s a heck of a lot easier said than done because, y’know, I’ve worked my entire life to get here to the PGA Tour and have chances to win majors, have chances to win tournaments out here. It’s a lot easier to say hey, it doesn’t really matter if you miss it or make it. At the end of the day it matters a heck of a lot to me whether that putt goes in or not.”

Scheffler was at his best talking about Woods, his childhood idol, who he played alongside in a particularly memorable Sunday round at Augusta.

“It was the day he made the 10,” Scheffler said, recalling the septuple-bogey Woods made at the par-3 12th. “That’s the thing — he’s just so much different, I think, than the rest of us. Like, he’s won so many golf tournaments, and he makes a 10 on No. 12 at Augusta, and he birdies five of the last six holes.

“And it’s Sunday. I mean, it’s completely meaningless to him; like at that stage in his career, what’s the point? And for him just to step up there and completely turn it around — and I kid you not, he hit still to this day, three of the best iron shots I’ve ever seen hit coming into those last few holes, and it was just unbelievable to watch.”

It was funny hearing Scheffler say how different Woods was “than the rest of us” while, all around Scheffler, his peers have been saying the same thing about him. There were little reminders during Thursday’s opening round, too. He generously spotted the field a stroke with a bogey on his opening hole but then he birdied the next three and birdied 10 and 11 and birdied 16 and didn’t make another bogey the rest of the way. He still hasn’t shot a score over par since last August. And while Scheffler isn’t likely to pat himself on the back, it’s easy to see what he admires by the way he offers compliments of his own.

“He puts everything he has into every shot that he hits on the golf course, which I think is a really underrated skill out here,” Scheffler said of Woods. He thought back to that Sunday round at Augusta.

“I just learned that from watching him — the way he read greens, the way he approached pitch shots and iron shots and tee shots. There was never a moment in that round where he wasn’t going at it a thousand percent, which is a lot easier I think said than done.”

If another pro said that about Scheffler, it’s safe to assume he’d appreciate that compliment, too. And they’d be right to say so.

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