What’s the secret to Scottie Scheffler, Masters champ? I learned it this week.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Scottie Scheffler looked up and scanned the skies over the Georgia pines. The Masters scoreboard showed that he had made a birdie three on the par-4 third at Augusta National, on a delicate bump-and-run from below the left side of the green, to restore the three-stroke advantage that he teed off Sunday with, and here, on the fifth tee, he was 14 holes from the history he would eventually make.
But a steady buzz was more pressing. There, to the left of the tee, a CBS drone was dropping in from the fourth hole, and he cocked his neck up and followed it as it moved into position to catch the tee shot of Cameron Smith, his playing partner. Scheffler nudged his caddie, Ted Scott, and they watched together for a second before getting back to the business at hand.
A question at this week’s Masters has been how. How has Scottie Scheffler gone from also-ran, from being asked week after week when he’ll ever win, to now seemingly never losing? His victory on Sunday, his first major championship, was also his fourth overall, and all four have come since Super Bowl Sunday. But how? How can a guy whose best friend on tour describes him as “goofy,” who watches The Office (season four, if you’re wondering) with his wife, Meredith, the night before Masters Sunday, who follows drones during Masters Sunday, have the blueprint to be, at this moment, the greatest golfer in the world, cemented by a green jacket?
If Tiger Woods were doing what Scheffler is doing — and what Scheffler is doing is, no doubt, Tiger-like — you wouldn’t be wondering where this all suddenly spewed out from. Tiger burns, and everything turns to ash. If Rory McIlroy were playing like Scheffler is playing — and the way Scheffler is playing isn’t Rory-like; it’s better — you wouldn’t be trying to make sense of it all. Rory’s charisma is only matched by his skill. But Scheffler, The Office and drone watcher does it, and you ask how, how, how. But really it’s just this:
His simplicity. Simple. This is no knock. Spicy sells, but vanilla is valuable. Wouldn’t we all want our most basic, serene selves to be good enough to be the best at what we do? For Scheffler, it’s allowed him to keep a heart rate as low as his scores. Scheffler is, of course, talented, but so are dozens of others. But where lesser men may shoot 75, he’s watching a drone.
Is it B.S.? Not if it’s consistent. On late Saturday afternoon, after watching him hit into a bush to the left of 18, we watched him surgically fish it out, drop it and hit just over the green. How? Simple.
“You hate to lose a golf ball with all those people around,” he said. Though we’re sure that only he was worried whether he’d be down one Titleist.
On early Sunday afternoon, after starting the day with a three-shot lead, Scheffler saw it whittled to one after two holes. But he never lost it completely and, in the end, won by five. After subtraction, Scheffler only multiplied. How? Simple.
Some backstory first. Earlier this year, Scheffler connected with Ted Scott, Bubba Watson’s former caddie, who had considered retiring but hit it off with Scheffler. They’re kindred souls. Their player-caddie interactions go something like this — they talk before a tee shot, Scheffler hits the tee shot, they talk after the shot, they talk while walking down the fairway, repeat on the next shot. Yes, Scheffler hits. But he’s also surrounded himself with folks that think like Scottie thinks and make Scottie even more Scottie.
Look at shot one on hole No. 1 on Sunday. After hooking it left, Scott whispered something to Scheffler after he walked back to his bag, and they laughed. On the third tee, with the lead shrinking, Scott grabbed a water for Scheffler, they said nothing — sometimes the best things said are no things, right? — and the chip-in, along the win, soon followed.
“Teddy is definitely someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously either,” Scheffler said. “I don’t know how much time you spend around Ted, but he’s a pretty goofy guy, and we have a lot of fun together. He tells a lot of good jokes. Not everybody may think they’re funny, but his dad jokes are pretty good, and we get a good chuckle out of them.
“Like I said, he keeps things loose. We have a lot of fun together. I respect him a lot as a person, and I respect his work ethic as a caddie. And so for me it’s been a pretty easy relationship so far, just because I respect him so much.”
On Sunday morning, he woke up to a lead at the Masters. On Monday morning, he’ll wake up with a green jacket in his closet. How? You know the drill by now.
We don’t have to spill internet ink to tell you that sleeping on a lead at the Masters is maybe more difficult than any shot you’ll hit at Augusta National itself. The mind can be more penal than any water hazard or bunker or gust of wind. Scheffler? He watched Michael Scott with his wife, Meredith, as even-keeled as her husband. If anyone has brought out the best in Scottie, it’s her.
“So, my wife used to not like the show, and it’s by far my favorite show,” Scheffler said. “I love it. She used to watch random episodes with me and she’s like, “This show is stupid, why do you watch that?’
“I finally convinced her to start it from the beginning, and she loves it and she’s cracking up. Tonight, I’m looking forward to just chilling. We are starting, I think we are like two episodes into season four. I’m just looking forward to sitting back and giggling a little bit and eating some good food.”
“He isn’t necessarily defined by golf, so I think that will serve him well because obviously golf is very difficult and you’re going to have great stretches and you’re going to have some bad stretches,” Burns said. “At the end of the day, he knows that golf isn’t everything. It’s not who he is, it’s what he does. So I think that’s probably the most important thing.
“Once you become No. 1 in the world, you get a lot of attention, and things change a little bit. We’re staying in a house together this week, and he has not changed a single bit, so I can tell you that.”
Is there an example you can share, Sam?
“I mean, he’s just his goofy self. Off the golf course, he’s a fun guy to hang out with. He just relaxes and doesn’t take life too seriously. He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. We were playing a lot of cards and board games last night, and he definitely hates to lose.”
What say you, Will?
“He and Meredith are awesome,” Zalatoris said. ”I’ve known them both back since high school. They couldn’t be nicer people. That’s something — that speaks way more than their golf. They’re some of the most humble and gracious people you’ll find out here.
“Of course I always want to be rooting for myself, but I’m always rooting for him just because he’s such a good dude.”
A good dude turned Masters champ.