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Scottie Scheffler’s journey to the top of the world golf rankings felt more like a beginning than an ending Sunday afternoon in Austin. That this moment of triumph occurred in the Lone Star State could not have been more appropriate.
Scheffler was shaped in ways large and small by Texas golf—its coaches and courses and especially the chance to watch and learn from accomplished pros, including the likes of Justin Leonard and Jordan Spieth. Scheffler was all of six years old when he swung a club for the first time at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas. He qualified for the statewide Texas Amateur tournament at fourteen and captured three state championships at Highland Park High School as well as the U.S. Junior Amateur title. At seventeen, he finished twenty-second in his hometown tournament, the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship. He was a three-time Big 12 champion at the University of Texas.
Only 25, Scheffler has won three of his last five tournaments—his first three career victories—and is headed to the Masters next month as this year’s only three-time winner on the PGA Tour.
That most recent trophy came in a familiar place: Austin Country Club, where Scheffler played often during his Longhorn days. On Sunday, he triumphed in match play at the WGC–Dell Technologies. When it ended, once he had secured the number one spot, a flood of emotions was unleashed as dozens of family and friends gathered to share the moment.
First was his wife, Meredith, who embraced Scheffler for one long hug, then another, tears flowing. His parents, Scott and Diane, followed with another long embrace and more tears, as NBC microphones caught his dad saying: “I love you, Scott. I’m more proud of who you are than your golf. You’re a wonderful young man.”
At Royal Oaks, they still tell the story—recounted by the Dallas Morning News—about the time someone called out that a chip shot Scheffler hit during one round had lipped out of the cup. Scheffler asked which side of the hole, exhibiting an attention to detail that has become one of his trademarks. He was ten at the time.
“I grew up wearing long pants to go practice because I wanted to be a professional golfer,” Scheffler said last week. “That’s what I dreamed of. I dreamed of being out here. I’ve always been, I would say, fiercely competitive, and so for me getting out here was a goal per se, and being out here, I like competing and I enjoy the challenge of playing out here every week. Just competing out here is really fun for me and just being able to win tournaments is pretty awesome. The rankings never really crossed my mind. It was always just about being out here and competing.”
All those thousands of shots and practice rounds and coaching sessions, all the travel to amateur tournaments throughout Texas and beyond, and, yes, some frustration, led to Scheffler’s ascension to being crowned the world’s top golfer. He’s the sixth-youngest player to earn the number one spot since the rankings began in 1986. He was ranked fifteenth when the stretch of three victories in five events began.
Scheffler is also just the second Longhorn to be number one—Jordan Spieth was the first—and just the twenty-fifth player in history. And to think that six weeks ago, he was peppered with questions about being known as the best player on the PGA Tour who had never won a single tournament.
Yeah, that. He had been on the PGA Tour for all of three years when he won for the first time at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Super Bowl Sunday, but he’d had plenty of success before then. Scheffler was named the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2020 and invited to play for the United States Ryder Cup team in 2021. That’s when he emerged on the world stage by sweeping the first four holes en route to a defeat of Spain’s Jon Rahm, then the world’s number one player. Scheffler has played in nine majors and finished in the top ten four times. He’ll roll into the Masters next month as the tour’s hottest golfer.
As Scheffler closed in on the crown at the WM Phoenix Open, Royal Oaks members gathered around television sets to cheer on one of their own. Three weeks later, Scheffler won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. Last weekend, his win in Austin included a ninety-foot eagle chip shot to close out a match on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, he beat Dustin Johnson in the morning and rolled by Kevin Kisner in the final. That’s $6.2 million in winnings in six weeks.
Asked about becoming the number one player in the world, Scheffler said: “I never really got that far in my dreams.” His voice cracked and he wiped away tears before adding: “I just love playing golf, and I love competing. And I’m just—just happy to be out here, to be honest with you.”
No player has ever risen to number one so fast after winning his first tournament. Tiger Woods needed 252 days to pull that off. Scheffler did it in 42.
“I would say this week, it’s definitely got a special place in my mind and heart,” Scheffler said. “I’ve got a lot of good memories being here in college. It’s been a long journey to this point. . . . To be out here and win this golf tournament in front of the fans down here is really special. Like I said, I always dreamed of playing in this tournament, and just to be out here was a treat, and to be able to play seven rounds and finish and win is really special.”
He was born in New Jersey and moved to Dallas with his family when he was six years old. Soon after arriving, Scheffler’s parents took the future number one to Royal Oaks. Only later would he learn they had to borrow the membership money.
His demeanor off the course is often the first trait Scheffler’s friends and competitors mention. He’s seemingly unflappable, focused and businesslike at all times. Longhorns men’s golf coach John Fields told the Austin American-Statesman last week that Scheffler tended to struggle if the instructions he was given were too specific. However, if Fields backed off, Scheffler would thrive.
“He just had to see it himself,” Fields said. “He had to be his own person.”
When columnist Kirk Bohls asked how the success—and money—had changed him, Scheffler revealed he still drives his father’s 2012 Yukon despite more than 180,000 miles on the odometer.
“It runs,” Scheffler said, as if that explanation were the most logical in the world. “Life off the course is still pretty much the same for me,” he also said.
He did, however, admit that prior to his 2022 hot streak, going winless over the first 64 tournaments he played after turning pro exacted a mental toll. “I always felt like I could [win a tournament],” he said, “but once you accomplish that goal, it’s a little bit different. Mistakes definitely don’t weigh on me as much as they had in the past.”
Scheffler changed putters before the Phoenix tournament, but when a golfer wins multiple tournaments in a short stretch, a new putter can’t be the explanation. Basketball players say that shooting droughts can end when one shot goes in. One leads to another and another. They just have to keep shooting.
Scheffler clearly had some of that. He’s so laid-back that neither the sting of falling short in his first 64 tries nor the relief of finally winning in Phoenix could disrupt his preparation or goals. All throughout, his swing remained the same—simple, repeatable, and powerful—and now, finally, the victories have followed.
If anything, Scheffler seems more bewildered by how fast he’s risen to the top of the sport than by any of the growing pains that came before.
“My head is spinning,” he said. “I guess I’m making up for a little bit of lost time [over] the last few weeks.”