No.1 Scheffler unfazed as ever and chased by all at US Open

Scottie Scheffler in action. File photo

Scottie Scheffler appears unstoppable as Thursday’s first round of the US Open approaches, with many top rivals amazed the world number one already has five wins this year including the Masters.

“He’s the gold standard right now,” said 2020 US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau.

“Undoubtedly the best player in the world at the minute by a long way. It’s up to us to try to get to his level,” said four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who dubbed Scheffler “relentless.”

Two-time major winner Jon Rahm said Scheffler is “basically replicating a Tiger Woods season. It’s fantastic.”

What can stop Scheffler? Well, he did settle for eighth at May’s PGA Championship after being arrested on driving-related charges that were later dropped.

“The only thing that took him from winning a golf tournament was going into a jail cell for an hour,” McIlroy joked.

Scheffler will play the first and second rounds at Pinehurst with third-ranked McIlroy and second-ranked Xander Schauffele, the PGA Championship winner who sings Scheffler’s praises as well.

“Scottie is doing incredible things,” Schauffele said. “Every week we play, he seems to build a bigger lead and somehow make the mountain even taller for all of us to climb.”

Scheffler is the first player since Tom Watson in 1980 to win five PGA Tour events before the US Open, having taken titles at Bay Hill, the Players, the Masters, the Heritage and last week’s Memorial.

The 27-year-old American, who became a father last month, has 12 top-10 efforts in 13 PGA Tour events this year, and he does it with a matter-of-fact attiude about his success.

“I’m not thinking about my wins anymore,” Scheffler said. “All I’m focused on is this week and getting ready to play. Last week doesn’t really matter.”

Every golfer is chasing his ranking and success but he doesn’t feel it.

“I still don’t feel like there’s much of a target on my back,” said Scheffler. “It’s not like anybody is out there playing defense. When I play with Xander and Rory here Thursday and Friday, they’re not going to be saying weird stuff to me or trying to block my putt from going in the hole.

“Target on my back? I don’t really feel it and I don’t really think about it much.”

Scheffler hasn’t spoken with people about how to cope with his success.

“I haven’t really discussed that with anybody,” he said. “I try not to think about the past too much and I try not to think about the future too much. I just try and live in the present. Sometimes it’s easier and sometimes it’s a bit harder.”

Even the high praise of rivals is taken as brotherly compliments.

“It’s nice to hear a little bit of good things from my peers,” Scheffler said. “Definitely nice.”

So how is it being the world’s best golfer?

“I try not to overthink things,” he said. “I try to live one moment at a time and soak it all up because you never know how long it’s going to last. Just try and soak up the good times when you can and fight through the bad.”

‘A lot… is patience’

Scheffler said that his biggest lesson learned from prior US Opens is to be mellow and patient.

“A lot of it is patience,” Scheffler said. “There’s certain areas of the golf courses where you can’t really fake it. You just have to step up there and hit great golf shots.”

Pinehurst’s domed greens, sandy run-off areas and wiregrass bring danger on nearly every hole.

“There are certain holes out here, like some of the par-3s, where there’s not really a place where there’s a good miss,” Scheffler said. “You just better just get up there and hit it right where you’re looking or else you’re going to be in big trouble.”

It’s not a typical US Open course, and Scheffler loves that.

“I appreciate having the playability of the run-off areas more than heavy rough surrounding every green,” he said. “Definitely provides a little bit more variety, a little bit more excitement and a little bit more creativity around the greens. I believe it’s a better test.”

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