Sports

Scheffler never happier with his life, wife and son. Now he's ready to grab another major at PGA

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — (AP) — Scottie Scheffler has never spent much time reflecting on anything he has done, especially with something grand — another major championship — on the immediate horizon.

But for that moment in Dallas last week, when wife Meredith came home with their first baby, it was hard not to think about a special time in his life.

“I married my high school sweetheart and I always wanted to play professional golf, and now I'm here,” Scheffler said. “I was sitting there with a newborn in my arms and the green jacket in the closet. It was a pretty special time.”

Scheffler has wanted to play professional golf for so long that as a youngster, he wore long pants in the hot Texas sun because that's what the pros did. Now he has 10 titles on the PGA Tour and only a month ago added another Masters green jacket.

Their son, Bennett, was born last Wednesday.

But what makes the 27-year-old Texan tick is how much he hates to lose no matter how much he wins. And it didn't take long for Scheffler to think about the PGA Championship and a chance to further stamp such a dominant stretch.

“The competitiveness in me doesn’t let me reflect too much,” he said. “And I was trying to do my best to get ready to play this week.”

There is much at stake. Since the modern Grand Slam came into the golf vernacular in 1960, only four players have captured the first two majors of the year — Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972, Tiger Woods in 2002 and Jordan Spieth in 2015.

"The amount of greens he hits, he just wears you out that way," said Woods, who knows plenty about wearing down an entire field. "And then he has an amazing pair of hands around the greens. If he putts awful, then he finishes in top 10. If he putts decent, he wins. He putts great, he runs away.

“So, he’s just that good a ball-striker and that good an all-around player.”

Nothing comes easily, no matter how easy Scheffler can make it look.

Valhalla Golf Club is a new experience, and it doesn't help a supreme ball-striker like Scheffler that the course already is soft. And that was before a spell of heavy rain closed the course for a few hours Tuesday.

The harder the test, the greater the separation. Soft conditions shrink the margins, and this might be as good a time as any for someone to stop this remarkable train.

This could be ideal for Brooks Koepka, the defending PGA champion, who looked to be dialed into his irons when he won LIV Golf Singapore, or perhaps even golf's basher, Bryson DeChambeau. They play on LIV and have not been subjected as much to Scheffler's dominance.

Scheffler also is coming off a substantial in-season break, at least by his standards. Except for the impending birth of his son, he would have played two weeks ago in Dallas. He has been away from competition since winning the RBC Heritage on April 22 for his fourth victory in his last five tournaments.

But he hasn't been away from golf entirely.

“Definitely rested going into this week, for sure,” Scheffler said. “I don’t really feel like any rust has accumulated. I was able to practice and play a lot at home. I’m able to do stuff at home to simulate tournament golf, especially on the greens, competing and gambling with my buddies. I don't really want to lose to them, either.”

He hasn't been losing to hardly anyone lately. Stephan Jaeger is the only player to finish ahead of Scheffler in a tournament since Feb. 18 at the Genesis Invitational. Scheffler tied for 10th that week.

More than one player has jokingly suggested a mandatory paternity leave. Max Homa, among those who tried to chase down Scheffler at Augusta National, finds it inspiring.

“Sometimes it’s pretty cool to see somebody kind of push the limit on what you thought was possible,” Homa said. "I did not think you could hit a golf ball this well this long. I did not know that was possible. We saw it with Tiger but I wasn’t around then, and Tiger feels like a mythological creature, especially when you look back on some of those seasons he had from 2000 to 2008 or 2009 or whatever it was. I mean just like absurd golf.

“So to get to see that up close, and know that's a real possibility, I think it's super motivating.”

Scheffler has not lost perspective on what's important during this remarkable run. The daughter of his caddie, Ted Scott, is graduating high school this weekend. Scheffler said they talked about it at the start of the year and he insisted Scott go home for the celebration. Scheffler will use a friend on the bag for the third round.

He also doesn't get too wrapped up in the hype, just like he ignored so much criticism only a few months ago when his putting was under severe scrutiny.

He practices. He plays. He competes.

Scheffler did watch golf over the weekend, a rarity for him because he's usually playing. The TV was on when Rory McIlroy delivered a back-nine masterpiece to win the Wells Fargo Championship. McIlroy won the PGA Championship in 2014, the last time it was at Valhalla.

“I got to see a little bit of the golf and saw some really nice golf being played,” he said. “Part of me wanted to be out there competing with these guys. It's nice to be back out this week.”

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