‘A very bad bet’: Breaking down Scottie Scheffler’s caddie’s ill-advised wager
When Scottie Scheffler chipped in for eagle on the par-5 2nd hole in the third round of the Players Championship, the moment had special significance.
If you were watching the NBC telecast, you probably know this, because when Scheffler jarred the shot, on-course reporter John Wood told viewers that Scheffler and his caddie, Ted Scott, had a friendly bet about how many times Scheffler would hole-out this season: If he did it 10 or more times, Wood said, Scheffler would pocket some dollars from his looper; fewer than 10 and Scott would cash in. (For context, Scheffler had 11 hole-outs last season, and the Tour average was 6, according to ShotLink.)
Scheffler said the bet was Scott’s idea. “I can’t even remember exactly when it was,” Scheffler said Sunday after his blowout Players win. “But it was toward the beginning of last year where he said something about a certain number of hole-outs for the year, and I’ll give you a little something at the end of it, and it’s just kind of a fun little deal for us out there on the course. Probably a bit more fun for me than it is for him because I get to chip in, and he has to owe me for it. But, yeah, just kind of Ted just being Ted.”
Ill-advised wager by Scott? Jordan Spieth thought so.
“I’ll be honest, I think that Teddy made a very bad bet,” Spieth said Sunday after closing with an even-par 72 to finish T19. “I had it with Michael [Greller, his caddie], and we’ve had it at 15 or 16 before. So I think Teddy will probably reevaluate considering we’re not even midway through March. It actually might be a good bet, because it’s already over and he’ll make a new one and win the press.”
If Scott did happen to press, and that bet started Sunday? More bad news for Scott, because in the final round Scheffler needed all of eight holes to record yet another hole-out: a chip-in from 34 feet on the par-3 8th.
According to ShotLink, Scheffler’s Saturday hole-out was actually only his eighth of the 2022-23 season and Sunday’s his ninth, but whatever the number — and whatever the exact terms of his deal with Scott — Scheffler has proven he has a nose for finding the bottom of the cup from off the green. Two seasons ago, Scheffler recorded 18 hole-outs. The year before that, he had 14.
“It looks just kind of homegrown, which I always feel like works pretty well,” Max Homa said Sunday of Scheffler’s touch around the greens. “Jordan’s kind of similar. Obviously, they have great mechanics, but it feels like they do it a different way, which means they typically own it a bit more. I feel like he just knows what he’s going to do. He has this stabbing spinner. He’s got the really good kind of soft one out of the rough. I feel like he’s just very artistic in that way. … I feel like he sees them going into the hole.”
As accomplished as Scheffler and Spieth — who has 6 hole-outs in 28 rounds thus far this year — may be at the art form, they’re not even close to the 2022-23 leaders. Tops in the category are a couple of Bens — Byeong Hun An and Ben Griffin — each of whom has holed out a whopping 15 times this season. Their nearest chasers are a trio of players with a dozen hole-outs: Seamus Power, Harris English and Aaron Baddeley. Of the 17 players with 10 or more hole-outs, Baddeley has the best hole-out rate (HOR), achieving the feat once every 3.16 rounds.
The hole-out king? We’re bestowing that title upon Sungjae Im, who twice in the last five seasons — in 2018-19 and again in 2021-22 — led the Tour in the category. His tally in both of those seasons? A gawdy 25 hole-outs. Twenty-five!
Good thing Scott doesn’t caddie for him.
Since ShotLink began tracking hole-outs in 2001, Im’s mark of 25 — which Ben Silverman (what is it with Bens?) first achieved in 2018-19 — remains the gold standard. But the most impressive HOR belongs to Rob Oppenheim, who in 2019-20 needed all of 65 rounds to hole out 22 times, for a stupefying HOR of 2.6. Unfortunately for Oppenheim, the rest of his game was not so on-point that season; he missed 11 cuts in 21 starts and finished 138th on the FedEx points list.
And Scheffler? He, of course, has had considerably more success capitalizing on his hero shots. His two hole-outs at Sawgrass last week helped him to a six-shot win and and the top spot in the world ranking.