PGA TOURLeaderboardWatch + ListenNewsFedExCupSchedulePlayersStatsGolfbetSignature EventsComcast Business TOUR TOP 10Aon Better DecisionsDP World Tour Eligibility RankingsHow It WorksPGA TOUR TrainingTicketsShopPGA TOURPGA TOUR ChampionsKorn Ferry TourPGA TOUR AmericasLPGA TOURDP World TourPGA TOUR University

Oak Hill’s penal nature suits Scottie Scheffler

4 Min Read


Oak Hill’s penal nature suits Scottie Scheffler

    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Oak Hill removed thousands of trees before hosting this PGA Championship but one remaining right of the 17th hole was in the perfect spot to deflect Scottie Scheffler’s tee shot even farther from the fairway.

    With his ball some 50 yards from his target, Scheffler’s options were limited. Oak Hill’s thick rough had been made even more penal by Friday’s afternoon rain. Just getting the ball back on the short grass was going to be difficult, so Scheffler figured he should just advance it as far as possible.

    That’s why he grabbed his 3-wood, even though he was just 212 yards from the green. That’s a distance he could normally cover with a 5-iron. Scheffler took a lash but the grass kept his ball from flying high enough to fade toward the green. Now he was in even deeper trouble.

    His ball was still in the long grass, now some 50 yards from the flag, and a deep bunker sat between him and the hole. His high flop landed softly, though, and he was able to make the 8-foot putt for the most improbable of pars.

    “It was definitely the best recovery of the day,” he said.

    Scheffler was again in the rough on No. 18, and this time the wet grass only let him advance the ball 160 yards, well short of the green. This time, his par putt slid by the hole. But even with the closing bogey, Scheffler walked off Oak Hill in a tie for the PGA Championship’s 36-hole lead.

    Scheffler, Corey Conners and Viktor Hovland are atop the leaderboard with two rounds remaining at Oak Hill.

    There’s a mix of major champions and winless TOUR players in contention at the PGA’s halfway point, a testament to the small margins this week. Even a club pro is in contention, with Michael Block authoring a Cinderella story thanks to his back-to-back rounds of 70 that have him just five shots back. Only nine players are under par after two rounds.

    Some of the names are as surprising as the weather, which was expected to present myriad variables this week. The tournament started under a frost delay but by Friday it was warm enough for short sleeves. Then the rain came Friday afternoon, previewing what promises to be a trying third round as more precipitation is expected.

    But then, among all the uncertainty and variables, there is Scheffler, who continues to succeed on a variety of venues during his rapid rise in the golf world. He has conquered the creative canvas of Augusta National and the modernist creation of Pete Dye’s TPC Sawgrass.

    He and Jon Rahm have pulled away from their peers this year, trading the top spot in the world ranking and sharing the stage at the Masters’ trophy ceremony, where Scheffler slipped the green jacket onto Rahm’s shoulders. Now Scheffler has an opportunity to author a response to Rahm’s win at Augusta.

    Rahm’s opening 76 at Oak Hill, which forced him to rally Friday just to make the cut, means Scheffler could return to world No. 1 this week. A win would be Scheffler’s third of the season (compared to Rahm’s 4). They are Nos. 1 and 2 in both the world ranking and the FedExCup, and by a decent margin.

    Scheffler may be the game’s most consistent contender in its biggest events, finishing in the top 10 in seven of the past 10 majors. He’s at it again this week. His ability to grind and scramble is a big reason why. For all his physical skills, Scheffler’s ability to keep plodding forward may be his biggest. He does not waste energy on past shots, focusing only on the best way to proceed.

    “If you are barely off out here,” said Scheffler, who has hit half his fairways, “you're going to get punished pretty severely.”

    “I was just trying to grind today,” he added.

    He showed it at both the Masters and THE PLAYERS, where a chip-in played a crucial role in each final round. He illustrated it again with his unlikely par on 17 Friday.

    “I've done a good job the first two days of keeping the golf course in front of me and scrambling well,” he said. The rough offers Oak Hill’s biggest challenge. A few feet can have an outsized impact on the next shot, meaning the difference between birdie and bogey. That is one reason for the wide variety of names on the leaderboard.

    Saturday’s forecast calls for more conditions that reward a player like Scheffler, one who can endure when things are less than ideal. Temperatures will once again drop into the 50s and rain is expected throughout the day. Any help that may give by making the greens more receptive is offset by the added difficulty it presents when players miss the fairway, where thick, wet grass awaits.

    “Once you get impatient around this place, you're going to try and birdie every hole,” he said, “and that's when you are going to start digging yourself a pretty deep hole.”

    It’s the sort of test that Scheffler has said he prefers. He’s proving again that he’s up to the challenge.

    Sean Martin is a senior editor for the PGA TOUR. He is a 2004 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Attending a small school gave him a heart for the underdog, which is why he enjoys telling stories of golf's lesser-known players. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

    Privacy PolicyTerms of UseAccessibility StatementDo Not Sell or Share My Personal InformationCookie ChoicesSitemap

    Copyright © 2024 PGA TOUR, Inc. All rights reserved.

    PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, and the Swinging Golfer design are registered trademarks. The Korn Ferry trademark is also a registered trademark, and is used in the Korn Ferry Tour logo with permission.