When you check Scottie Scheffler’s results page, a full five months before he registered his first PGA Tour win there is a 1 besides his name at the outset of the 2021-22 season. It’s for the Ryder Cup. And while it was a team event, earning 12 Americans that coveted (and recently elusive) “1″ next to their names for dethroning Europe, it was, at the very least, a hell of a precursor for the young Scheffler.
He has taken the actual 2022 calendar year by storm, turning The Big Three of Dallas-area golf — Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and Will Zalatoris, all competing in the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Craig Ranch — into The Big One. It was on Super Bowl Sunday that Scheffler won his first PGA Tour event, the WM Phoenix Open. Two events and three weeks later, he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida. Two events and three weeks later, he won the World Golf Championships Dell Technology Match Play event in Austin, where he played his college golf.
And two weeks later, Hideki Matsuyama was helping him into a Green Jacket at Augusta, his fourth win in six starts and his first major championship. How did it all happen so fast? Golf announcers pointed to his tremendous winning record of junior events in Dallas. He was the US junior champion at 16, the Big 12 champion at Texas, the Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year along the way.
Ask him, however, and he can’t even recall the first time he beat Spieth, let alone the junior championship that meant the most to him.
“I have a really bad memory when it comes to that stuff,” Scheffler said after dropping the puck at the Stars’ last regular-season game while wearing that form-fitting green jacket. At 25, Scheffler is the same age as Zalatoris, whose 2022 season would be more noticeably outstanding — six top-10 finishes in a nine-tournament stretch — if not for Scheffler’s dominance. Spieth, who won the RBC Heritage Open the week after missing the Masters cut, is the old man of the group with three major championships at age 28.
“We all grew up playing each other for so many years,” Scheffler said. “Seeing Jordan have that early success encouraged us that we could come out here and play decent golf as well.”
Scheffler didn’t take long to go way beyond “decent.” While he did not win a tournament last year, he was more than creditable as a Ryder Cup captain’s pick, winning one four-ball match while paired with Bryson DeChambeau and tying another before taking down Jon Rahm in singles, 4 and 3, after Rahm had gone unbeaten in four team matches.
Like most things, Scheffler does not shower himself with praise for that victory.
“I think people blew that out of proportion a little bit,” he said. “It was obviously wonderful to win the match, definitely beating Jon was a great moment in my career. But the important thing was that the team won and we won kind of comfortably, so we had fun the last afternoon.”
Scheffler would pass Rahm to become the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world when he won the match play tournament at Austin Country Club, the same event in which he lost the final to Billy Horschel a year ago. “That was something I wasn’t even aware of. A guy from the Golf Channel on Saturday said, ‘You’re going to be No. 1 if you win tomorrow, how do you feel about it?’
“I was like: ‘I don’t know, I never thought about the rankings before.’ I don’t think I get anything extra for it. When I show up at an event as the No. 1 player, there’s no strokes for it or anything.”
Then again Scheffler will surely get some strokes at the end of the year. The leader in FedEx points starts the Tour Championship at minus-10. That’s a long way off. As far away in Scheffler’s future as all those junior wins that “have become kind of a blur” in his memory bank of him.
One has only to look at Spieth to understand the magnitude of what Scheffler has done. When the 21-year-old from Jesuit was taking the golf world by storm in 2015, Spieth won four times in 12 tournaments. Now two of them were majors — the Masters with his record-tying performance by him and then beating Dustin Johnson on the final green at the US Open — so I do not suppose Spieth would trade his great season for Scheffler’s.
But four wins in 12 events is clearly different from four wins out of six. If Spieth was on fire in 2015, Scheffler is downright sizzling in 2022. Rory McIlroy won three out of four tournaments in 2012 when he was the next great thing, but he never won four out of six. To find that sort of performance, one must go back to Tiger Woods winning four in a row and seven out of 10 in 1998 or three in a row and six out of eight in 2000.
There was only one Tiger. It’s a disservice to suggest anyone is aiming to reach his level or closing in on his grandest achievements. But right now, in 2022, there is only one Scheffler. And the great thing for Dallas golf is that Spieth is still winning and Zalatoris is competing at the highest level.
The battles the trio waged on area fairways a decade ago have moved to the world’s biggest tournaments. As the easygoing Scheffler would say, it’s all “pretty cool.”
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