At the beginning of 2019, Scottie Scheffler was ranked 1640th in the world and just about to get his rookie year underway on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Thirty-two months later, the American has worked his way into the top 20 of the World Ranking and is pushing for a place on Steve Stricker’s Ryder Cup Team.
The 25 year old always seemed destined for stardom since topping the Korn Ferry Tour Money List, yet remains relatively unknown outside of the States despite his meteoric rise in the game. Thomas Wragg caught up with the Texan to get his thoughts on The Ryder Cup, his love of the big stage and Brooks’ and Bryson’s rivalry.
On topping the Korn Ferry Tour Rankings as a Rookie
I didn’t really know what to expect going into the season. We finished Q School and the season started not too long after that, I had maybe three weeks off before starting my season. I missed the cut at first but after that I started playing well, I had two or three top tens in those first few events and it started rolling from there. I locked up my card after finishing second in Nashville, which was fairly early in the year and then I was able to win a few weeks after that. I went from just trying to get my card to being close to the number one spot, and then I was able to win again later in the year to lock up that number one spot going into the PGA Tour season.
On being crowned Korn Ferry Tour Player of The Year by his fellow players
It was great. To be voted by your peers is awesome and it’s definitely something that I strive for. It’s a great honour and it was nice to gain some confidence going into the PGA Tour season knowing that I was playing well. My game was in good shape and it was nice getting my card quickly instead of stressing out about it at the end of the season.
On the pandemic affecting his first PGA Tour season
We didn’t know what was happening with the schedule. We took so much time off, we had no idea what was going on, so we were fortunate enough just to have a place to play after a couple of months. I was in a good position before we went on lockdown, so for me I was playing and I was excited to just keep going. I was trying to stay in-form the best I could.
On his love of Major golf
I think in those tough events like the Majors and the WGC, the golf courses are a little bit harder and I think that suits me. I like the idea of grinding and making a bunch of pars. I enjoy that more than the birdie focused courses where you can get a 20 under winning score. In the Majors I could make a couple of mistakes here and there and still be able to catch up. Let’s say the leader is shooting 24 under in a normal tournament and I’m four or five shots behind on the last day, I have to shoot a crazy number like 60 or 61 just to catch up because, odds are, the leader is going to shot 64 or 65 again. But in the Majors you can see players coming from behind because you can still shot 63 or 64 while the leaders would get pars and just hang in there.
On shooting 59 at last year’s Northern Trust
I went into that tournament knowing I had to be among the top 30 to make it to the next FedEx Cup Playoffs event in Illinois, which is a nice accomplishment as a rookie. I played poorly during the first round and shot even par so I knew I had to go low on Friday to get through the cut line. I had some nice up and downs early in the round, made birdie at the second and I just started rolling from there. I made a par on 13 before reeling off three birdies from the 14th and that’s when I started thinking about the score and the chance I had to shoot 59. Thankfully, I picked up my twelfth shot of the day on the last to get to the magic number.
On the possibility of making Steve Stricker’s Ryder Cup Team
That would be fantastic, it’s definitely something that I’m looking forward to. It would be a dream come true. I’ve thought about playing in that event for a while. Anybody that’s in contention knows where they stand, Steve hasn’t reached out to me specifically about his picks, he just reached out to all of the guys for certain dates that we need to be looking forward to.
On his ideal Ryder Cup partner
I play well with a lot of the players in the team. You could put us all together in a variety of different ways and we would play well so I don’t really have an exact dream pairing that I’m looking forward to.
On Europe winning four of the last five editions
I’ve not been on that team before so I am not sure exactly what their secret is, I just know that they seem to make a lot of putts! Other than that, I think the U.S. hit a slow patch and they’re in a rhythm of losing. Europe has the momentum on their side year after year so I think we need to come in there and win again to get the ball rolling once more.
On Brooks Koepka’s and Bryson DeChambeau’s rivalry
I’m not sure if it’s real or not but it doesn’t concern me. But as far as it goes for golf, they certainly have a lot of people talking about the game, that’s definitely one of the benefits. At times it can get childish but it’s getting people talking so it’s not too bad.
On breaking his PGA Tour duck
I think I’m pretty close. At the beginning of the week I haven’t put myself in contention enough, I’m barely outside looking in. I played an event last month and was five shots back but felt like I was playing well enough to be closer to the lead during the final round. I think I just need to clear up my game at the beginning of the week because sometimes I lose my focus a little bit. Winning is the same on every level, it’s a skill that the guys have, whether it’s winning in junior golf or winning on the Korn Ferry Tour, for me it’s pretty similar. I’m used to playing under pressure on Tour and having the fans out there. I feel my game is in a good spot so I think it will come soon.