Monday, June 5, 2023

Column: Scheffler’s dominant stretch shows similarity

Augusta, Ga. ( Associated Press) — Start with Scottie Schaeffler winning four times in two months.

Now consider money.

His PGA Tour earnings over the past six tournaments – including his first win at the Phoenix Open on February 13 – came in at $8,872,200.

With purses increasing and Tour championships now considering an offer of official prize money, Schaeffler has earned more in two months than he has won four PGA Tour money titles in four of the past eight seasons.

Golf hasn’t seen this storm since Jason Day picked up four wins in six matches, including the PGA Championship, in the summer of 2015. And he wasn’t even the best player that year: Jordan Spieth’s five wins that year included two Majors and the FedEx Cup.

What Scheffler has done is astonishing, it’s too early to think of him as golf’s next major player because no one seems to know how long it will last.

In any case, it exemplifies the parity of golf.

It’s also reminiscent of the Tiger Woods effect, and those waves stretch even more the longer he can play.

“I played Tiger’s iron. Wearing his shoes. Wearing my shirt this week,” Scheffler said. “He is the needle of the game of golf. He completely changed the PGA Tour 25 years ago. And his YouTube clips are an inspiration to me.”

One in particular that stood out for Scheffler was when Woods won his first Masters in 1997, a watershed moment in golf. Woods entered the final round with a lead of nine and never lost focus, while the lead extended to a record 12 shots.

“He never really broke his concentration. It’s something I reminded myself of today,” Scheffler said on Sunday. “I tried to keep my head down and just keep doing what I was doing because I didn’t want to break my concentration.”

That changed when he took a five-shot lead on the 18th green. He ch.

“Thanks, Tiger,” said Scheffler, laughing.

The influence has been around since Woods last returned to world No. 1 in the spring of 2013 and remained at the helm until his first of five back surgeries.

Patrick Reed in late 2014 recalled how he grew up studying Woods, especially his meditations. “You could see him just by looking him in the eyes. If Luk could kill, he would literally kill you. He was just so focused and determined to play well,” he said.

A year later, Spieth & Day finished 2015 at number 1–2 in the world after their five-win season, with Rory McIlroy just behind. It felt like the start of a new “Big Three”.

It was not, and Spieth said as much, preaching patience and perspective. “To create an era, you need almost a decade of years like this,” he said then.

Spieth and Day became the third and fourth players to reach No. 1 after Woods began his series of back surgeries. Six more players have since followed: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and now Scheffler.

The list includes almost – and perhaps, if only briefly – Colin Morikawa, who already has two majors from six worldwide victories, as he approaches his three-year anniversary of turning pro.

Rahm looked back over the past seven years and cut out so many names that he feared he’d drop someone off the list (he missed one, easy to do without notes). He called it “a perfect example of the tiger effect”.

Most of the players who have risen to the top of golf are roughly the same age group, from Schaeffler (25) to McIlroy (32).

“We all grew up watching Tiger. We all grew up wanting to be him, and we all grew up with the dream to be the big champion,” Rahm said. “With the advancement in golf, from thinking of ourselves as athletes in all of us, you can see the difference. Everyone can reach a new level.”

It’s hard to catch Scheffler right now. Before long, it will be just as difficult for Scheffler to outwit whoever is behind him.

His win in match play a few weeks ago kicked off a streak that best reflects the depth and equality in golf. One player since Woods in 2009 started the year at No. 1 and maintained the ranking each week until the end of the year.

“It’s just the next guy comes in, warms up, and there you go,” Rahm said. “It’s a beautiful part of the golden age of golf we’re living in now. You might not find the guy who’s going to dominate for long. You’ll find five, six, maybe 10 players who can play their part. Huh.”

This is why it has become so difficult to rule golf these days. And that’s why Scheffler’s run, who is capped as Masters champion for now, is so impressive to watch.


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World Nation News Desk
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