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Scottie Scheffler makes remarkable look routine, wins RBC Heritage comfortably

8 Min Read



    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Scottie Scheffler wasn’t supposed to win the RBC Heritage.

    History told us that not since Tiger Woods in 2006 has a player won a major championship and then won on TOUR the next week. It had been 39 years since anyone won the Masters and the RBC Heritage back-to-back (Bernhard Langer, 1985).

    Scheffler did it anyway, and no other outcome seemed plausible after two holes of the final round. Generational superstars make the remarkable look routine, like it was always destined to happen, but make no mistake, that’s not normal, no matter how Scheffler made it appear.

    The world No. 1 looked at ease as he fired a final-round 68 to win the RBC Heritage by three shots. He entered the fourth round up by one, but after a miraculous eagle chip-in on No. 2 that Scheffler made look mundane, it was about over. The final 16 holes were a formality, a slow coronation for King Scheffler that thunderstorms pushed to Monday. Scheffler played his final three holes Monday morning, capping it with a meaningless bogey on 18.

    Scottie Scheffler's chip-in eagle is the Shot of the Day

    “We've seen people do this over the years as far as excellence for time, over a little bit of time,” Max Homa said. “His seems to be sustained a bit longer than I can remember from a lot of people. It's not utterly shocking what he does. He just does it over and over and over again.

    “That's amazing. … He almost makes it seem very realistic that we should do that.”

    Homa’s quote wasn’t from Sunday. He said it Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the tournament began, and that assessment is even more true now than it was then.

    Scheffler made two bogeys or worse all week – the first was a double bogey on the third hole of his first round. The second came on the 72nd hole. In between, it was flawless golf. Scheffler has won four of his last five starts. He’s won 10 times on TOUR in his last 50 starts. He’s lost to only one golfer since the start of March: Stephan Jaeger at the Texas Children’s Houston Open.

    Top players spent the early part of the week gawking at Scheffler’s success and admitting there was a gap between them and him. Still, there’s supposed to be a letdown after a win, especially a major championship. It’s a mentally taxing and draining experience. The stress and energy of contending can wear down even the best, and Scheffler is a meticulous preparer, treating practice rounds with the intentionality if not quite the intensity of a final round.

    Scottie Scheffler news conference after winning at RBC Heritage

    He showed up to Harbour Town Golf Links for the first time Wednesday, taking the early part of the week to celebrate his Masters win and recharge back home. He didn’t see the course’s front nine until he played the first round. He admitted one eye was at home in Dallas, where his wife Meredith draws closer and closer to giving birth to their first child. He was prepared to walk off the course at any moment if she went into labor. That was the field’s only hope, as it turns out.

    The quick turnaround and shortened practice time led to a sluggish start as Scheffler was even for his first 15 holes Thursday. Although he birdied Nos. 16 and 17 for a 2-under 69, he was already six shots behind after Round 1. His caddie, Ted Scott, had noticed some fatigue.

    The great ones, though, do not panic, comforted by the knowledge that over time their stuff is superior and will win out. Scheffler would never say such a thing (too brash), but his clubs say it for him. Exhibit A: He shot a 6-under 65 on Friday, and that night the deficit was just three. Then he shot 63 on Saturday to leave little doubt: He was going to win again.

    “He’s a physical specimen, I mean honestly he is,” Scott said. “He’s in incredible shape and you have to be to have mental fortitude. You have to get your body in physical shape so you can be mentally in it.”

    Mentally, Scheffler said he’s never been in a better place on the golf course.

    Scottie Scheffler’s Round 4 highlights From RBC Heritage

    “I look back to Bay Hill, and I got off to some poor starts there, especially on the greens,” he said. “I'm just proud of how quickly I've been kind of fighting back from those little mistakes throughout the round and handling the surprises and stuff when it doesn't really go as planned. I think I've become better at managing that.”

    A prime example came as the darkness descended Sunday night. Standing in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 15th, Scheffler duck hooked a 4-iron into the water. He was shocked. The swing was good; the strike was solid. But there was mud on the ball that he didn’t see.

    Still up by five, Scheffler had plenty of breathing room, but he didn’t want to drop a shot. He slung a wedge around the tall trees guarding the hole and buried the 11-foot par putt despite having the option to wait and putt it in the morning, as his playing partner, Sepp Straka, did.

    “The level of satisfaction of something like that is pretty high … to keep myself in position and not really give the guys behind me too much hope,” Scheffler said.

    That mental strength is driven partly by on-course performance. Scheffler has regained confidence on the greens after switching to a mallet putter. That helps. But it’s also bred from his consistent cadence off the course. After pouring in eight birdies on Saturday, seven of which came from inside 12 feet, Scheffler did what he often does on the road. He went back to the rental house with frequent TOUR roommate and best friend Sam Burns and watched a movie. Tom Kim stopped by, as he had a few other times during the week. The routine was the same.

    Burns, who has known Scheffler since their junior golf days, couldn’t sense a shift in Scheffler at any point during the week. Other than his late arrival, nothing was different.

    “Just his normal self, pretty laid back,” Burns said.

    Burns drew parallels to Scheffler’s golf, which hasn’t changed much over the years. The ability to dominate was always there.

    “He's playing incredible golf,” Burns said. “He has a ton of confidence and he's also really good. It's a good combo. You have those three things working together and then you get what you got. He's the best in the world by a long way.”

    Scheffler admitted he is starting to realize his stature is changing, although it still catches him off guard. Large crowds packed in to watch him tee off on Saturday. When he reached the first green, he looked back at those same bleachers a few hundred yards away. They were empty, even with the final five groups still to tee off.

    “It was really interesting,” he said, still seeming a bit surprised. “It felt to me like the crowd was coming with me (Saturday), and there was definitely a lot of cheers out there.”

    Scottie Scheffler closes out 72nd hole to cement 10th win at RBC Heritage

    It’s new territory for the Texan. He has occupied the top spot in the world ranking for the last 48 weeks, but the general public seldom treated him like a sports idol. His understated personality, as genuine as it is, did not attract the masses, and he has actively avoided the spotlight. But his dominance is the draw now. The crowds are bigger and the cheers are louder as the golf world eagerly watches Scheffler make history, everyone wondering: How long can he keep it going?

    “People like to see something special and they’re seeing it,” Scott said. “It’s easy to get behind a person like him, he’s easier to cheer for.”

    Woods was the last player to win four times in five starts, back in 2008. Since 1983, Only David Duval has needed fewer starts to get from win No. 1 to win No. 10. Scheffler’s final-round 68 was his 40th consecutive round of par or better. He’s outperformed the field average in 36 of those rounds. Fans flock to dominance. It’s happening in the women’s game, with Nelly Korda at five straight wins and counting. It’s here for Scheffler as well.

    Maybe things will change, as Scheffler is about to become a dad, knocking golf further down his list of priorities. He wants to be a better parent than he is a golfer, and perhaps that will take time away from his practice and preparation. Maybe then, he will fall off.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    “I grew up watching the end of Tiger,” Theegala said Saturday night. “Got to see Rory (McIlroy), DJ (Dustin Johnson), Jordan (Spieth), like all these guys kind of dominate for a period of time, and I was like, we could be in the midst of something really, really special.”

    It was as if Theegala knew what was coming, and maybe he did. Maybe, deep down, we all did.

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