Who is Scottie Scheffler? He’d prefer you ask someone else.

Scottie Scheffler enters this week's Masters as defending champion.

Scottie Scheffler returns to this week's Masters as the defending champion.

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I FIGURED SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER would cancel our lunch plans.

We’d tentatively arranged to meet on Monday of the Genesis Invitational. I wanted some time with the defending Masters champ for a Q&A in the April issue of GOLF Magazine. Scheffler was scheduled to arrive at Riviera early Monday morning for a showcase event he’d promised his college coach he’d attend. But he’d made that commitment before he went ahead and won the WM Phoenix Open, golf’s biggest party, for the second year in a row. Plus, this version of the WM Phoenix Open was held in the same city and on the same night as the Super Bowl. Surely that would change the equation? Surely Super Bowl tickets would follow, and a swanky suite, and a series of glitzy hangs with a series of glitzy people?


After Scheffler finished off his victory at TPC Scottsdale, he made his obligatory media rounds. He caught a flight from Phoenix to L.A., where he was staying — as he does every year — at the house of a woman named Gina. Gina and the Schefflers go way back — they met via host housing from college tournaments at Riviera. He and his wife Meredith hung out with Gina for a couple hours. They went to bed. And by the time I arrived at Riv the next morning, Scheffler was already coming up No. 18, chipper as could be, offering a two-word greeting.

“You hungry?”

SEVEN WEEKS AND ONE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP LATER, Scheffler sidled up to the microphone in Augusta National’s press center. It was Tuesday of Masters Week, and the defending champion had some questions to answer.

He acknowledged it felt a bit different, driving down Magnolia Lane a winner. He looked forward to the evening’s Champions Dinner, though he’d obviously never attended one. He recalled green jacket memories, like throwing out the first pitch at a Rangers game and dropping the puck at a Stars game. He even cracked a joke about sneaking the jacket onto a commercial flight — “I don’t know if I’m breaking any rules with that” — to laughter. Mostly, though, the jacket has stayed in his closet.

The most interesting question came courtesy of veteran golf journalist John Hopkins. Last year, he remembered Scheffler being asked to describe himself. Scheffler said it’d be a better idea to ask other people. That was a fair idea. It was also a look into his bashful personality. But now, Hopkins said, Scheffler was a year on. “A lot more confident,” he said. “A lot more successful. Could you now describe yourself?”

The implication was clear. For all his on-course successes, his charge to World No. 1, his Masters and Players and WGC titles and more, there remains the question of how well we actually know Scottie Scheffler.

“I mean, that’s what’s strange,” he said. “I think people expect — when you have success in whatever field it is, and I think ours especially, when people see it happen on TV, they expect you to change.

“You would think that I’m a significantly different person than I was a year and a half ago, but when it comes to life at home, everything is still the exact same. I still have the same friends; I married the same girl I dated in high school. My family definitely doesn’t treat me any different. It just so happens that we get to come to places like these on occasion and have fun.

“Life on the golf course has changed just with fans and more people being around, which is a ton of fun. But as far as life at home, I haven’t changed a bit, so, same answer.”

Asked to name something he’s splurged on since becoming a mega-millionaire, Scheffler balked. He and Meredith like to buy a nice bottle of tequila after a win, but those don’t necessarily last. He still drives the same 2012 white GMC Yukon XL, which now has some 190,000 miles on it. At some point he’ll get a new one, he supposes. But when it comes to a superstar’s trappings, he’s coming up a bit short.

“I dunno,” he concluded. “I’m not huge on that kind of stuff.”

The only thing Scheffler could name was a cold tub, which he called a “pretty big indulgence.” It still isn’t set up yet, though.

In other words, Scheffler seems like the sort of guy we’d all like to get to know a little better. It’s tough to tell if he doesn’t want us to — or if he thinks we already do.

Here’s my humble addition to the Scheffler files from that lunch at Riviera.

(Our interview was shortened for clarity — and brevity — to fit the magazine’s pages.)

Dylan Dethier: By now, a lot of people know you looked up to Tiger Woods as a kid. Who else were your role models?

Scottie Scheffler: I grew up at Royal Oaks [in Dallas], and there were a lot of guys there because of Randy Smith, my coach. Justin Leonard was there, Colt Knost, Anthony Kim — other guys, too. Randy molded me, but there were a lot of players out there, and I learned a lot by watching.

DD: Being around those guys made being a pro golfer seem like an attainable profession.

SS: Yeah, it wasn’t a faraway thing. I saw what those guys were like and how good they were, and I guess I always thought I could do it. I didn’t know for sure, but it was a possibility.

DD: When did you know?

SS: I’m not sure there was one moment. I always wanted to play pro golf, but I never 100 percent believed that I’d be out here. But I never had a backup plan, either.

DD: When things are going well, you look completely unflappable. Are you? What golf situations make you nervous?

SS: Look, I get nervous all the time.

DD: But you don’t necessarily play bad when you’re nervous.

SS: No. I think, when I’m nervous, it actually helps me focus. If I’m not nervous, something’s wrong. One of the things I’ve learned since I started wearing my Whoop is that when I play really bad my strain levels are their lowest, and when I play good my strain levels go up — you start getting excited. The stress can help me focus.

DD: Do you like winning, or do you like beating people?

SS: I guess they go hand in hand. But also, I think I just hate losing.

DD: What is the public’s perception of you?

SS: I have no idea.

DD: What would you like it to be?

SS: Oh, man, I don’t know that, either. I mean, it’s like, what’s the point?

DD: I’m not sure, but I know that a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about how they want others to think of them.

SS: I would say I value the opinions of my close friends who truly know me, versus, like, the perception of someone who sees me from outside the room.

DD: Is it that easy?

SS: I would say the more you stay away from social media, from other people’s opinions, the easier it is. I’ve learned it’s not a valuable way to spend time. Even yesterday, I caught myself. There’s a reporter — I don’t know if he doesn’t think I’m good or what, but he doesn’t write a lot of positive things.

I was like, Okay, I’m going to check and see what he said. And still nothing.

DD: Still not complimentary?!

SS: Not complimentary. [Laughing.] But then it’s like, Why am I reading it?

DD: Will you read this interview?

SS: Probably.

DD: Just to keep tabs?

SS: Well, because we’re sitting here, talking about stuff. I’ll wonder what the takeaway was.

DD: What’s your enduring memory from winning last year’s Masters?

SS: I remember a lot from the walk up 18. I remember pretty vividly getting to the green, then hugging everybody after. After that, it was all a whirlwind. But I remember the plane ride home.

DD: Who was on that flight?

SS: Friends and family. I remember very vividly sitting across from Randy, in the green jacket. I got some good pictures. And some local beers. I think we had tequila. We like tequila.

DD: From the outside, it seems like you work really hard to stay true to your roots. Not becoming someone different seems important to you.

SS: I’d agree with that. My thing has always been that golf is something I do; it’s not who I am. Because if I accomplish something really cool, like winning the Waste Management, people see it on TV and think your life should be totally different from that moment forward. But, at the end of the day, you just go home. And if I didn’t have a happy marriage or people to celebrate with — and my close friends are like, Man, that guy’s been a real douche lately — what’s the point of being good at something?

DD: Do you think you’re a different guy when you’re talking to the media than you are in the privacy of your own home?

SS: Yeah.

DD: More careful or what?

SS: Well, I don’t want to get canceled. I’m sort of kidding; I don’t think
I would. But, like, the fall of my rookie year, we’re playing in Houston. It was my fifth or sixth event, and I was riding the cut line. On a par 3, this dude, like, 70 yards away, screamed at the top of his lungs in the middle of the backswing. And I said to myself, Really? You can’t keep your mouth shut for 30 seconds? Or something like that. Turns out, there’s a mic right there, and you see this article after the round, like, “Rookie Yells at Fan.” So I learned quick: Just go about your business.

DD: What does your perfect day look like?

SS: On a day I’m not playing golf, I’d start with a slow morning at home. Just me and [my wife] Meredith. Make coffee, read, hang out at home. I say ‘make’ coffee, [but] I make lattes. I don’t know if that really counts.

DD: What are you reading?

SS: Just a lot of Christian books. But, yeah, we like slow mornings. I guess now I’d probably go play pickleball with our buddies. That’s so much fun. I’m very sarcastic and so competitive, and I like to mess around. It’s the perfect environment for that. And then go have dinner with friends. I could eat the same meals every day of my life, but Meredith likes to mix it up.

DD: Do you get stopped in public often?

SS: It’s funny. After the Masters, we got home late that night, so we had a slow morning. Then we went out to get coffee and got mobbed. We were like, wow, this is weird! We’d done it before after winning and it wasn’t that big a deal, but this was the Masters. Then we did the same thing the next day, and it was back to normal. So, no, I would not say we get stopped often.

DD: Not yet, maybe.

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