Scottie Scheffler is boring, and like Tiger Woods before him, that makes the 2023 Players’ champion brilliant
Scotty Sheffler is boring.
That was a common theme this week at TPC Sawgrass, where Scheffler won the 2023 Players Championship, Secretariat-style, five strokes ahead of Tyrrell Hatton and seven strokes over Victor Hovland. This boring style was combined with an unwillingness to show emotions, and this prompted Scheffler to walk down the street until the very end. $4.5 million winner’s purse.
Either way, it’s a story, and it’s told like it’s a bad thing.
While it’s true that Scheffler eschews Jordan Spit’s forced play and Justin Thomas’s “I can make any shot you can think of” drama, it’s also true that boring golf has been a run-through of top players. in the history of this sport.
When played correctly at the highest level, golf doesn’t have to be an exciting game. That some players do this says more about the fine line that these players walk in every tournament than it does about their ability to win the biggest tournaments in the world.
“Never aim the ball at trouble,” is how Jack Nicklaus put it during the Memorial Tournament last year, as part of a longer discussion about field management.
“Never send the ball out of bounds. Never send the ball into the lake. You always aim away from him. enough to get there, or make sure you can’t hide it enough to get to it.”
If you could get $1 every time the announcer said “that’s a smart move” this week as Scheffler fought his way to his sixth PGA Tour championship in his first 97 starts, you could almost add to the Players Championship wallet.
Although Scheffler was out of the lead after the 1st and even 2nd round, his weekend onslaught and championship win still seemed imminent. Perhaps this is because he was worse than the field average with his stick in each of the first two rounds and was still lingering at the top of the board. It was like Steph Curry hitting 35 at halftime without hitting a 3-pointer.
It was all part of the plan for the week: throwing balls into oblivion and hoping you hit enough shots to come out on top. Scheffler hit the green, and even when he missed, he did it in spots that could lead to success, such as the 8th par 3 hole on Sunday, where he folded his first birdie of the day.
He does it again!!
Scotty Scheffler bets on birdie and extends lead to 3 @THEPLAYERSChamp. pic.twitter.com/07XgNQ6wex
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 12, 2023
“It was just a good example of how I played smart here,” Scheffler said. “If you miss high above the hole in any of these pins, you will most likely make a scarecrow. So all we were doing was just trying to aim for the leading edge and I hit really well. and the wind struck him and pushed him a little to the left.
“If I didn’t play so smart, I would be in a very difficult position. it enters.”
From a jump to the TPC Sawgrass, Scheffler took the ball out of trouble. He played the fat part on almost every green and missed on the right side of every fairway. Looking into its Shotlink holes is a master class in golf course control: off the water, on approach shots, drives and everything in between.
“I think it’s very difficult,” Scheffler said of TPC Sawgrass before the start of the tournament. “If we played a video game, I don’t think it would be very difficult. But this is golf, and there are elements to it, and it’s difficult. Of course, on any hole, any time you get out of position here, it’s a very difficult hole. easy.”
A statistician who consults golfers described Scheffler’s variance model as narrow and described how he moves that variance in the right direction more often than most. It’s not that Scheffler never misses a shot or misses the spot he’s aiming for. It’s just that when he does, it doesn’t cost him more than one hit.
“It’s a physical chess match” said Tiger Woods, who played golf much more boringly than many assume, of course, management at the level of the PGA Tour. “When you hear me say, ‘I missed the golf ball in the right places,’ that’s part of the game of running the course.”
It all sounds extremely simple, and in many ways it is simple, but professional golfers, especially the great ones, are often so confident in their skills that making smart, intelligent… boring shots is actually not as easy as it sounds. like it should be.
It requires extraordinary discipline, patience and acceptance.
Scheffler’s attitude that he can’t control everything – an attitude that he believes has a religious basis – is probably a very healthy and effective approach to competitive golf.
— Garrett Morrison (@garrett_TFE) March 11, 2023
On the other hand, many golfers have boring games, but almost none of them are as gifted in the fundamentals as Scheffler. He marries a world-class skill set – Spit has discussed Scheffler’s willingness to take ridiculous short shots, saying he “has great hands” – with arguably the best field manager in the sport.
The trick here – and that’s Scheffler’s secret sauce – is to mix that comical level of self-belief that all great players have with the ability to let go of the pride that comes with trying to take every hit and pull every pin. Scheffler is certainly not perfect in this, but he has shown himself better than most.
“I’m just sticking to my routine,” Scheffler said on Saturday, two strokes ahead of Min Woo Li before the final round. “That’s all. Just remember to breathe, and breathing is part of my routine, and I imagined myself in these moments, so I know that I am ready to be in them. All I can do is just try and hit the target, and after that, the rest is out of my control.”
Here is how Niklaus put it: “I thought I was good at what I do, but I didn’t really trust it.”
There is no better description of Scheffler’s style of golf than this.
Spit and his ilk have taught those of us who watch the game to believe that “boring” golf is bad and “fun” is good. Maybe so when it comes to entertainment value, but the opposite is true when a golfer wants to consistently win world-class tournaments.
Scheffler’s demeanor, also called boring by some, is also in keeping with his course management; both are built for greatness.
Would it be more fun to watch Spit talk about wind, rotation, and how the Earth’s axis affects his disappearance? Absolutely. Am I glad to see John Rahm raise his hands to the sky for every ball that doesn’t fall? You bet.
But Scheffler’s physical plane and mental performance match in tranquility (bordering on boring). And that’s sort of the point. He rarely gets too high or too low, a skill he says he’s still learning and working on.
Not everyone needs Scheffler’s demeanor on the course to be successful – after all, Spit has three specialties – but it’s hard to do it consistently unless your golf is basically devoid of drama.
Starting his career with a score of 0 for 70, Scheffler has suddenly won six of his last 27 starts. They were all monsters: two Phoenix Opens, Masters, Players, Match Play and the “worst” win of all, last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. There’s no end in sight to this run because, like Ram, Scheffler doesn’t go crazy (he was an average player this week) and doesn’t really achieve anything beyond his basic abilities.
You could even say that his winnings, like his golf, have become monotonous and monotonous.
In some ways, this week confirmed Scheffler’s theme. This is a fair narrative, even if the meaning is wrong.
If you are looking for someone to make you feel something along the way, sheffler is not your boyfriend.
But if you’re looking for someone to implement a plan that will win everything, Scheffler is almost in a league of his own.
So, it’s only fair to call Scotty Sheffler “boring” if you accept that boring golf is genius by design.