Scheffler trying not to think of himself as defending Masters champion

Scottie Scheffler says he is trying not to think of himself as the defending champion of the Masters Tournament, with his title defence of the first Major Championship of the season edging ever closer.

The six-time PGA Tour winner paid a visit to Augusta National earlier this week shortly after winning the Players Championship, where he became just the third player after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to hold the Players Championship and Masters titles at the same time.

The American, who hadn’t visited the course before his last three Masters outings, played a couple of rounds with his father, Scott, and coach Randy Smith as well as checking out the Champions Locker Room which now features his new locker.

“I never really had the time (to visit the course in preparation for previous appearances),” said Scheffler.

“But this time I made time for it, and I’m glad we did. It was good to kind of get some of the memories and stuff out of the way. That way, I can just be focused on the week while we are here.”

“Walking around the grounds, and I am wearing the same jacket as some of the members, yeah, it was definitely a special feeling.

“It made the win definitely feel more real.”

Prior to last year’s Masters, Scheffler won three of his last five starts coming into the Masters, including the Waste Management Phoenix Open – his first PGA Tour triumph.

The Texan successfully defended that title last month, and will now turn his focus on back-to-back wins at next week’s WGC Match Play before heading to Augusta National, where he is trying not to think of himself as the reigning champion.

“I’m just going out like I usually do and try and execute shots and play good solid rounds,” he said.

“Yes, I’m the defending champion, and I would love to defend and bring this Jacket back home with me. But I am not going to be thinking about that standing there on the first tee. I’m going to be thinking about hitting the fairway and trying to hit the green.

“Everybody starts at even par. It doesn’t matter if I’m defending champion or not. They don’t give me any shots.”

Two days before the Masters gets underway on April 6, Scheffler will have the honour of hosting the Champions Dinner, where he will be serving a four-course meal that will open with cheeseburger sliders that will be served “Scottie-style,” and firecracker shrimp.

Those will be followed up with tortilla soup before a main course of Texas ribeye steak or blackened redfish, which will be accompanied by macaroni and cheese, jalapeño creamed corn, fried Brussels sprouts, and seasoned fries served “family style.”

Finally, the meal’s tasty grand finale will be a warm chocolate chip skillet cookie served with milk and cookies ice cream.

All previous Masters champions are invited to the dinner, meaning LIV Golf defectors Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schawartzel will all take their seats alongside their former PGA Tour colleagues, many of whom have been highly critical of the Saudi-backed circuit.

“I think the dinner will be really special for all us to be able to gather again, and I am sure we will put all that other stuff aside and have a good time together,” he said.

“Just because guys joined another tour doesn’t mean I’m not friends with them anymore and think differently of them as people. They are still my friends, and we are all just gonna hang out and have a good time.”


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