That’s because six days before the first round, Howe had become one of Scheffler’s latest victims.
Howe is a member of Royal Oaks Country Club, in Dallas, the same club to which Scheffler belongs, and on the Saturday before the Masters began in earnest, Howe found himself in a money match with Scheffler.
You might think that the No. 1 player in the world would go easy on his fellow members, but that style of charity is just not in Scheffler’s DNA.
Scheffler birdied the first three holes and never looked back, shooting a seemingly effortless 64.
“We were playing Wolf, and he was the only one that made money that day,” Howe said Sunday afternoon from a lively Masters viewing party at Royal Oaks. “I felt lucky I only lost $68.”
As for the slightly more important contest that was looming the following week, Howe said Scheffler barely mentioned it all day.
“After the round, we were sitting around having drinks and finally he said, ‘I’ve got to go. I’ve got to travel tomorrow.’ I think we mentioned Augusta a total of two times.”
Howe was one of more than 100 members who had gathered at Royal Oaks on Sunday to cheer on their former junior star. On the menu was egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches; on members’ minds were stories of Scheffler’s propensity for pulling out the needle in friendly club matches.
When Scheffler’s opponents hit a poor iron shot, for example, Scheffler might say something like, “Good try, you almost made the green,” said Royal Oaks member Brian Aube. “We rarely hear ‘good shot’ from him.”
Scheffler has won more than $17 million in career prize earnings on Tour, but that doesn’t mean he won’t gleefully take a few more bucks off his Royal Oaks pals.
“My father-in-law couldn’t believe I text Scottie to set up golf games,” Howe said. “I told him I’ve got his Venmo address too, because I have to Venmo his a– every time we play. It only goes one way,”
The only time Howe recorded a win over Scheffler, he screenshotted the payment for posterity and sent it around to several members. Another member, Mark Schultz, said that Schultz is the only Royal Oaks regular to have beaten Scheffler straight up since Scheffler turned pro, edging him 72-73 in late 2019. But Scheffler refuses to let Schultz gloat about it.
“He usually has some smart comeback to that,” Schultz said.
Indeed, with his new status as golf’s top dog, Scheffler has become a tough guy to razz. There aren’t many comebacks for “best golfer on the planet.”
Scheffler doesn’t spend all of his time at Royal Oaks emptying the pockets of his fellow members — he also finds time to lend his expertise and mentorship to the club’s junior contingent. Scheffler is paying forward the same guidance he received as a youngster from Royal Oaks members and PGA Tour winners Justin Leonard and Harrison Frazar.
“I didn’t play with Scottie, but spent some time with him while practicing,” Leonard said from his home Sunday, while watching Scheffler march to victory at Augusta. “He would come over and sit and watch as Randy [Smith, Leonard’s teacher] and I worked on things a bit. He didn’t ask a lot of questions, he just kind of hung out and observed. He certainly had a thirst for knowledge.”
Royal Oaks’ juniors have learned some of the nuances of the game from Scheffler as well as — no surprise — the art of smack-talking. Head professional Dean Larson said he works with a 10-year-old, with the last name Ballotta, with whom Scheffler has developed a light-hearted rapport.
“[Scheffler] is always going up to him, saying, ‘What’s up, Ballotta?’” Larson said.
After his World Golf Championship win in Austin, Scottie jokingly requested that the club’s young’uns address him at “Mr. World No. 1 .”
There is one thing about which Royal Oaks members can give Scheffler grief: his car.
Scheffler still drives a used GMC Suburban with 175,000 miles, which he inherited from his father, Scott, while in college at the University of Texas.
“We ask him about it and he says, ‘I travel all the time, I don’t need a nice car,” Schultz said.
The elder Scheffler drove the Suburban from Dallas to Augusta last week; before the long drive back to Dallas Monday, he needed to get the car an oil change.
With his latest payday, maybe the new Masters champ will upgrade his wheels. He could pay for the car, and his Royal Oaks winnings should more than cover his gas.