After a second Masters win in three years, does Scottie Scheffler have the ability to join the pantheon of the sport’s greats?

By

Golf is an incredibly difficult sport to play well over multiple tournaments and it has been a long time since someone has shown indomitable consistency – Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth had sparks of it in 2014 and 2015 respectively while Phil Mickelson’s success around 2009-10 probably deserves to be included too. The masterful Tiger Woods is the most recent and best example of true consistency, utterly dominating the 2000s by winning twelve majors (including four in a row between 2000 and 2001) and remaining world number one for all but seven months of the decade. Woods is very much an exception to the rule, however, but that hasn’t stopped questions hovering above the head of virtually every multiple-major champion: will they finally be Tiger’s successor?

Now, fourteen years on from Woods’ remarkable decade of dominance, we might finally have our answer. Scottie Scheffler has performed outstandingly on the PGA Tour so far this year with his success so prolific that I had to rewrite some of this article to accommodate for yet another tournament won two weekends ago. Scheffler has always been one of the leading lights of his generation, becoming world number one in March 2022 and winning his first major championship the following month. It is only in 2024 that he has truly ascended to his peak, however, with an extraordinary string of victories that have catapulted him far beyond the achievements of any other male golfer this year. His first win was at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, a fairly routine victory that prepared him for the following week’s event, the Players Championship, where he was defending champion.

Now, fourteen years on from Woods’ remarkable decade of dominance, we might finally have our answer

Held at the demanding TPC Sawgrass, the Players is the flagship event of the PGA Tour and its most lucrative. Due to the intense competition and punitive hole placement, no player has ever successfully defended his title in the tournament’s fifty-year history. That is, of course, until Scheffler showed up this year, shooting a bogey-free final round to take the win with a truly mesmerising victory. He followed that tournament by placing second at the Texas Children’s Houston Open in his final tournament before the first major of the year, the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

Augusta is one of, if not the trickiest, parkland course on the tour rota – it features incredibly fast greens, multiple well-placed water hazards and long fairways enclosed by towering pine trees. When combined with the sheer pressure of Masters week, a round there can quickly descend into disaster if one is not perfectly precise with every shot. Scheffler was one of the tournament favourites and demonstrated his pedigree by shooting a 66 in the first round, ending the day one shot off the pace. The epitome of consistency, he remained in touch throughout the entire tournament, staying the course with rounds of 72 and 71 as opponents fell away and others took their place.

His victory at the Heritage was simply extraordinary

Entering the final day, he led Collin Morikawa by one and, after two bogeys on the front nine, ended up in a four-way tie for first. Faced with the prospect of his opponents establishing a lead over him, Scheffler used his experience and seemingly godlike iron play to birdie holes 8, 9, 10, 13, 14 and 16 and win the tournament by four strokes. His second major victory was his best yet – he hardly put a foot wrong and navigated Augusta’s fairways with impeccable precision. The most impressive thing about the win, however, was that, despite the sticky situations he sometimes ended up in, he was never phased and eased himself out with grace and focus and the mentality of a true champion.

If Masters glory wasn’t enough, Scheffler then proceeded to win his next tournament, the RBC Heritage, in the following week. His victory at the Heritage was simply extraordinary: after double bogeying the third hole of his first round, he retained that inner-calm and did not make another bogey until the very last hole of the tournament whilst simultaneously making nineteen birdies and an eagle, cruising to a stylish victory. In the past five tournaments he has played, Scheffler has won four times and come second once. He is on utterly blistering form and there is seemingly no one who can get near to his level of dominance. Indeed, there are more ranking points between him and second-placed Rory McIlroy than there are between McIlroy and the world number 1000.

Scheffler is sure to have a phenomenal year but to become one of the game’s greats, he needs to maintain that consistency for multiple years on the trot: this certainly not beyond the American given his run of form. The only question he needs to answer now is whether his consistency will stay consistent for years to come.

Image: Titleist via Wikimedia Commons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.