Column: Scottie Scheffler has a big golf game. What he doesn't have is a big head

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler would rank near the bottom if the popular “strokes gained” statistic of golf had a category for celebrations. And he would be the first to concede that.

Just two weeks ago — right before he earned $8.5 million for winning two big trophies in a span of 10 days and erased any questions whether he deserved to be ranked No. 1 in the world — Scheffler spoke about how quickly he can forget the past, win or lose.

“I don't celebrate accomplishments that well. I don't feel like I dwell on failures that much either,” Scheffler said. “If you ask my wife, she would say I need to celebrate more. She's definitely right.”

Then he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the celebration was on — cheeseburgers in the Bay Hill clubhouse with his family, followed by a two-hour drive to the TPC Sawgrass.


The day after Scheffler became the only player in 50 editions of The Players Championship to win back to back, he was texting swing coach Randy Smith about their practice schedule.

Scheffler is a big man in golf with a big game. What he lacks is a big head.

“Given the things that have gone on the last year or so, and watching him, he is definitely grounded — more than what you can dream of," Smith said. “And he has created a lot of things that could keep him from being grounded.

“He knows you're not bigger than anything else because of anything you do.”

The money?

His latest victory pushed him over $50 million for his PGA Tour earnings in just five years, one spot ahead of Jon Rahm on the career money list. Rahm had a four-year head start.

The ranking?

He has been at No. 1 since last May, and his gap over everyone else is the largest since Dustin Johnson seven years ago. Barring injury, Scheffler has a chance to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to hold the No. 1 ranking for an entire calendar year.

The platform?

Scheffler doesn't go out of his way to share his opinions. Insightful answers start with a good question, though he showed last week he is not afraid to speak his mind. He was asked whether fans were disillusioned by the splintering between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.

“If the fans are upset, then look at the guys that left,” he said. “We had a tour, we were all together, and the people that left are no longer here. At the end of the day, that's where all the splintering comes from. As far as our tour goes, we're doing our best to create the best product for the fans.”

And then there's the attention, the least of his worries because Scheffler doesn't spend much time on social media.

He also takes precautions not to listen or read about himself, whether it's his nine worldwide wins in the last 25 months, his two PGA Tour awards as player or the year or the putting struggles that kept him from winning even more.

“When it comes to reading things about yourself, let's say I remember all the good things. Then I walk around with a big head thinking, ‘This is how great I am.’ That's not good, either,” Scheffler said in an interview before he went on his most recent run.

"If I read the bad stuff, that's all I'm going to remember is the bad stuff. ‘Scottie can’t putt. He hadn't won in a year. Is he the best player in the world?' It's a losing game.”

Mostly what keeps him grounded are the people around him. His mother has been a chief operating officer for law firms in New York and Dallas, and his father stayed at home with Scheffler and his three sisters.

His wife, Meredith, is pregnant with their first child, due around the end of April. She's the one who told Scheffler on Sunday morning of the 2022 Masters, when he had a three-shot lead and woke up with tears and self-doubt, “Who are you to say that you are not ready?”

He wound up winning his first major, building such a big lead he mindlessly four-putted on the final hole and still won by two. More tears.

“Crying for me is not an abnormal thing,” he said with a laugh.

That much was clear when he was at TPC Sawgrass a few weeks ago to promote The Players, reliving the winning moment on the 18th green. His voice choked up just mentioning his family.

“I always get emotional when I talk about Meredith for some reason,” he said.

That was the point Scheffler drove home Sunday evening, as he moved the gold trophy on the table to be able to make eye contact with whomever was asking a question.

“At the end of the day, it all goes back to the support system I have at home," he said. "I have a great wife, and if I started taking my trophies and putting them all over the house and walking in all big-time, I think she would smack me on the side of the head and tell me to get over myself pretty quickly.

“Winning golf tournaments doesn’t give me any brownie points at home,” he said, stifling a laugh. “So I just try and do my best.”

It seems to be working.


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