Scottie Scheffler is boring, and like Tiger Woods before him, that makes the 2023 Players champion brilliant

Scottie Scheffler is boring.

That was a common theme this week at TPC Sawgrass, where Scheffler won the 2023 Players Championship in Secretariat-like fashion by five strokes over Tyrrell Hatton and seven over Viktor Hovland. This dull style was matched by a reluctance to get excited and led Scheffler to take a walk around the area The winner’s purse of $4.5 million.

That’s the story, anyway, and it’s told as if, somehow, it’s bad.

While it’s true that Scheffler eschews the extreme act of a Jordan Spieth and the “I can hit any shot you can possibly think of” drama of a Justin Thomas, it’s also true that boring golf was the middle ground of the best players. in the history of this sport.

When played correctly at the highest level, golf is not supposed to be a thrilling ride. That some players do this says more about the fine line these players walk in each tournament than it does about their ability to win the biggest events in the world.

“Don’t ever aim the ball in trouble” is how Jack Nicklaus put it during the Memorial Tournament last year as part of a larger discussion about course management.

“Never aim the ball out of bounds. Never aim the ball into a pond. Always aim away from it. And if you have to play back to it, make sure you can’t stick it far enough to get there, or make sure you can’t fade it enough to get to it.’

If you had $1 for every time an announcer said “that’s a smart shot” this week while Scheffler played his way to a sixth PGA Tour championship in his first 97 starts, you could almost have funded his wallet Players Championship.

Although Scheffler didn’t lead after Round 1 or even Round 2, his weekend charge and championship victory still seemed inevitable. Perhaps that’s because he was worse than the field average with his betting in each of the first two rounds and remained at the top of the board. It was like when Steph Curry put up 35 in a half without making a 3-pointer.

This was all part of the plan coming into the week: hit balls into oblivion and hope you make enough fakes to come out on top. Scheffler hit the greens, and when he missed, he was able to get out of trouble in ways that lead to trophies.

From the jump at TPC Sawgrass, Scheffler aimed the ball out of trouble. He played into the thick of almost every green and missed to the right side of every fairway. To look through his Shotlink holes is to get a masterclass in how to manage a golf course: away from the water on approach shots, drives and everything in between.

“I think it’s very difficult,” Scheffler said of TPC Sawgrass before the tournament began. “If we were playing a video game, I don’t think it would be very difficult. But it’s golf, and there are elements, and it’s challenging. And you don’t always hit it where you’re looking, so at any time in this golf of course — basically any hole , whenever you get out of position here — it’s a very challenging hole. But if you hit every shot exactly how you want to, which is almost impossible in a round of golf, it’s beautiful Aneta.”



A statistician who advises golfers described Scheffler’s scatter plan as tight. moves that spread to the right side more often than most. It’s not like Scheffler never hits a bad shot or misses the mark. It’s just that when he does it doesn’t cost him more than a stroke.

“It’s a physical chess match,” said Tiger Woods, who played a lot more boring golf than most people assume, of course managing at the PGA Tour level. “When you hear me say, ‘I missed the golf ball in the right spots,’ that’s part of the course management side.”

This all sounds extremely simple, and in many ways it is, but professional golfers — especially the great ones — are often so confident in their abilities that playing smart, logical … boring shots is actually not that easy. mentally as it seems as it should be.

It requires an extraordinary amount of discipline, patience and acceptance.

The flip side is that many golfers have boring games, but almost none are as gifted with the fundamentals as Scheffler. He marries a world-class skill set — Spieth discussed Scheffler’s willingness to hit ridiculously short shots, saying, “he’s got great hands” — with perhaps the best course management in the sport.

The trick here — and this is Scheffler’s secret sauce — is to combine that comical level of confidence that all great players possess with the ability to let go of the pride that comes with trying to get every shot and make every shot. brooch. Scheffler certainly isn’t perfect at it, but he’s proven himself to be better than most.

Here’s the magic, though: Almost all players as skilled as Scottie have a comical level of confidence.

“I’m just sticking to my routine,” Scheffler said Saturday after taking a two-stroke lead over Min Woo Lee in the final round. “That’s pretty much it. Just remember to breathe, and breathing is part of my routine, and I’ve imagined being in these moments so I know I’m ready to be in them. All I can do is just try and hit and after that the rest is not up to me.”

Here’s how Nicklaus put it: “I thought I was pretty good at what I did, but I didn’t trust it that much.”

There is no better way to describe Scheffler’s style of golf.

His behavior matches his course management. both are made for greatness.

Is it more fun to watch Spieth go on about wind and spin and how the Earth’s axis affects his fade? Absolutely. Am I glad to see Jon Rahm throw his hands to the heavens at every ball that doesn’t drop? You make a bet.

But Scheffler’s physical design and intellectual execution match each other in a peaceful (borderline dull) excitement. And that’s kind of the point.

Spieth and others like him have conditioned everyone to believe that “boring” is bad and “live” is good. Perhaps so in terms of entertainment value, but the exact opposite is true if a golfer wants to win world-class events consistently.

Not everyone requires Scheffler’s on-course demeanor to succeed — Spieth has three majors, after all — but it’s hard to do it consistently if your golf isn’t mostly drama-free.

After starting his career 0-for-70, Scheffler suddenly won six of his last 27 starts. They’ve all been monsters: two Phoenix Opens, a Masters, a Players, the Match Play and the “worst” win of all, last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. It’s a never-ending run because, like Rahm, Scheffler doesn’t go out of his way (he was average this week) and doesn’t achieve anything beyond his core abilities.

You could say that his winning, like his golf, has become repetitive and monotonous.

In a way, this week confirmed the matter for Scheffler. It’s a fair narrative, even if the implication is wrong.

If you’re looking for someone to make you touch something in class, Scheffler is not your type.

But if you’re looking for someone to execute a plan that leads to winning it all, Scheffler is almost in a league of his own.

So, it’s fair to call the Scottie Scheffler “boring,” as long as you recognize this boring golf, by design, great.

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