What’s wrong with Scottie Scheffler’s putting? The World No. 1 had THE answer
LOS ANGELES — From nine questions.
To just one.
Scottie Scheffler shut mostly everyone up, didn’t he? The putting queries had disappeared Thursday like his golf balls into the golf cups at Los Angeles Country Club, though Tuesday, ahead of this week’s U.S. Open, the questions rolled off tongues faster than golf balls on LACC’s slick greens.
“I saw you testing a putter on the putting green yesterday and playing with the weights. I was wondering what you were looking for out of that?”
“What about the putter you were testing, too?”
“And similar weight and stuff?”
“Are you changing putters this week?”
“What goes into thinking and the philosophy of changing before a major like that? How much of a big decision is that for you or anyone?”
“Not to overthink it, but is changing a putter or changing equipment for guys like you, [is that] sort of the last line of whatever, like after everything else hasn’t worked? Where does it fit in?”
“Last putting question. [Editors note: It wouldn’t be.] When you’re trying to heat up on the greens or just put something right, is there anything specific that you go back to maybe mentally or some drills that you do just to really focus in on your putting during an important week like this?”
“Have you reached out to anyone as a second set of eyes with your putting?”
“How does Teddy [Scott, his caddie] help you on the greens?”
Whewwww. These questions were warranted. The putts weren’t dropping. But it was more than that. Scheffler was doing everything else mostly flawlessly. Check out these numbers: first in scoring average this season, first in Strokes Gained: Putting, first in SG: Approach the Green, first in greens in regulation. Peerless. And the key putting metric?
Putrid. He’s 148th out of 198 pros in SG: Putting.
Golf, right? It can be funny like that. You’re good at one thing, no-so good at another. Of course, you don’t win a Masters or move to world No. 1 with a completely dull flatstick. Then again, these things can linger, too.
But then came Thursday and the first round. Scheffler worked. He did change putters. [GOLF’s Ryan Barath expertfully broke it all down here.] And he dropped one from 6 feet, 8 inches for birdie on 9. And he made one from 17 feet, 10 inches for birdie on 10. And he rolled one in from 19 feet, 2 inches for birdie on 15. And he sunk one from 9 feet, 3 inches for birdie on 16. On 18, he three-putted, but check out the SG: Putting number now.
When he finished among the morning wave, he was in the top 20, and he was in the top five on the leaderboard after a three-under 67.
To the questions above, there was THE answer.
And afterward, in front of about 50 reporters, he got only one, which was eight less than Tuesday, and this one was rather benign.
“How would you say you putted today compared to recent tournaments?”
“Pretty good. I mean, I rolled it nice, saw some putts go in. Pretty good.”
But I was curious. After all the doubts over the past few months, after the Tuesday interrogation, that must have felt good. Relieving. Encouraging. I followed Scheffler to an on-air Golf Channel interview. I asked his agent and a USGA official if I could get in a word. I could.
I asked him about 9. To me, that started things, and they needed to start somewhere.
“I’d say it was important,” Scheffler said as we walked back to the clubhouse. “It was one that I hit really nice, if that makes sense. It was kind of a funky read because I was on the fall line and I played inside right and it turned right in the middle and then it actually dove back to the right and went in. So yeah, it’s nice when you hit a nice, good — it’s like hitting a flush iron shot and it goes where you’re looking. I’d say the same thing with your putting — when you hit it really good and it goes in the hole, it definitely doesn’t hurt your confidence.”
We then had this exchange:
“In your pre-tournament press conference, they were asking you putting questions after putting questions after putting questions.”
Scheffler laughed. I continued.
“How frustrating is that?”
Said his agent: “I said one question. Let’s go.”
Said Scheffler: “I’ll answer. I don’t mind.”
“How frustrating is that and then to go out there and put that off to the side and just play golf and hit your putts like you said?”
Said Scheffler: “I mean, I don’t get frustrated at that kind of stuff. The media is 15 minutes of my day, sometimes 30. So it’s not the biggest thing to do. I’ll answer the questions and then I’ll go about my business.”
And he did.