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Injured Scottie Scheffler birdies last three holes to stay in contention at THE PLAYERS

4 Min Read



    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Scottie Scheffler feels the pain shortly after he starts his backswing. It’s impacted his swing this week at TPC Sawgrass, forcing him to rely on his hands, the very body part whose role players try to minimize in the golf swing because of their noted inconsistency controlling a clubhead traveling in excess of 100 mph.

    And yet, Scheffler’s chances of making history in this milestone PLAYERS Championship are still alive after he birdied his final three holes Saturday. Scheffler’s 68 gave him a three-round total of 12-under 204. He will begin the final round five shots behind leader Xander Schauffele

    “I'm just battling, doing my best to just maneuver my way around the golf course, hitting shots,” Scheffler said Saturday evening. “Really just doing my best. That's about it.”

    Scheffler’s neck started bothering him early in his second round. On the 12th hole, his third of the day, he consulted with a rules official about receiving on-course medical care. Two holes later, he received a neck massage and manipulation from physical therapist Marnus Marais. Marais also worked on Scheffler before he teed off on Nos. 15 and 16, as well.

    “Yesterday on (hole) 12 I'd say was probably the worst that I've felt, which is good,” Scheffler said after the third round. “I got some good treatment yesterday, good recovery last night, and I woke up feeling better today than I did yesterday.”

    Scottie Scheffler’s interview after Round 3 of THE PLAYERS

    He still showed up Saturday with KT tape on his neck, but did not need any on-course treatment. That doesn’t mean the effects of the injury weren’t felt. He had to take longer clubs for his approach shots and make easier swings because of the injury.

    “It's very difficult to get the club back,” Scheffler said. “Curving the ball right-to-left with longer clubs is very difficult, just because I can't get fully turned back. Overall I'm just using my hands a lot, trying to hit shots. I would describe it as kind of slapping it around out there.”

    Scheffler still hit 12 greens Saturday and missed just four fairways, but his driving distance has been down as he has struggled with the injury. He averaged 309 yards off the tee in Round 1, but he was more than 20 yards shorter in the second round. He was still hitting it shorter Saturday, but his driving distance was up to 295.9 yards.

    Incredibly, Scheffler still ranks third in Driving Accuracy this week (33 of 42 fairways hit) and eighth in Greens in Regulation (41 of 54) this week.

    “I was proud of how I battled out there,” Scheffler said. “I'm not one to ever really give up. So to finish the round the way I did and still give myself a chance in this tournament is very good, and I'm definitely going to use that momentum going into tomorrow.”

    World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler deals with injury at THE PLAYERS

    Scheffler made a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th before hitting his tee shot on the 17th to 7 feet. He then hit his 174-yard approach shot on the final hole to 12 feet.

    Scheffler is trying to become the first player in THE PLAYERS’ 50-year history to successfully defend his title. A second straight win at TPC Sawgrass felt like a foregone conclusion – as guaranteed as a golf result could be – after his five-shot win six days ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.

    That win was a masterclass in ball control. No one got within five shots over the final seven holes at Bay Hill Club & Lodge as Scheffler cruised to his seventh PGA TOUR victory in the past 25 months. And, most importantly, his switch into a mallet putter seemed to end the putting struggles that had frustrated him for most of the past year.

    Scheffler’s record-setting ball-striking and a hot putter seemed an unstoppable combination, especially on a course where he’d won by five shots just a year earlier. But then Scheffler’s body betrayed him early in his second round. He said he dealt with a similar injury in college, but it had been a few years since it struck.

    “It's just one of those things, it's unfortunate timing,” Scheffler said. “But outside of that, it's nothing serious. It's just a little pain in the neck.”

    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.

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