In the heyday of Tiger Woods—and for a long time after that heyday—there was one constant you could rely on when he played in major championships: All the other players would be asked about him. Whether they were happy to sing his praises, irritated at how he stole focus or just accepting of the reality that it was Tiger’s world and everybody else was just along for the ride, it didn’t matter; if you got up in front of a microphone, there would come a moment when your achievements were shunted to the side and you’d be asked to wax poetic on the greatness of Tiger Woods.

As the press conferences at this year’s U.S. Open are proving, that dynamic has returned, but the centre of attention isn’t Tiger anymore. It’s Scottie Scheffler.

This is what happens when you become World No. 1 by winning almost everything in sight—and dominating to such a degree that even rational people are forced to trot out the wildest comparison of all, which is the one to Tiger himself. It’s not just one reporter, and it’s not just one outlet. “Scottie” is the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and since he can only talk about himself so much, we turn to others to fill in the gaps … even if those others happen to be the other greatest players in the world.

On Monday and Tuesday at Pinehurst, nine players not named Scottie Scheffler have spoken in press conferences, and we are 7-for-9 in them being asked about Scheffler. Only Wyndham Clark and Martin Kaymer were exempt, and Clark talked about him anyway.

And what did they have to say about Scheffler and his recent run of dominant play. The answers sometimes echoed one another but also provided an interesting portrait of the new Alpha in men’s golf.

Webb Simpson: “It’s probably what happened in the early days with Tiger. You kind of get used to it, so it becomes less of a big deal. It’s almost like an afterthought. Scottie won again this week. Yeah, he’s doing everything exceptionally well. I think what people don’t talk about enough is, like, his attitude, the way he thinks. He makes less mistakes than everyone else. He does what you would expect a pro to do. He capitalizes on wedge shots and par 5s. He just doesn’t make mistakes. He’s so hard to beat. Probably makes Davis Riley’s win at Charles Schwab [Challenge, where Scheffler finished tied for second] that much sweeter to him because he was able to get him. The rare time we all see it.”

Wyndham Clark: “I mean, it’s obviously challenging being one of the top players, especially doing it as quickly as I did. There’s ebbs and flows in the game of golf. Guys like Scottie right now are making it look real easy. There’s a lot of other guys that struggle a lot of the weeks of the year and play good maybe just a few events.”

Bryson DeChambeau: “From my perspective, he’s got full control of his golf swing. He’s figured out a lot of his putting. He plays some incredibly strategic golf from what I can tell. He doesn’t go too crazy. He just hits the right shots at the right time. He’s really in control of the environment, not only his environment but the conditions on the golf course. He knows what the golf ball is going to do. He knows how to react accordingly. When things go right, he’s able to right the ship pretty quickly. That’s just a recipe for success, and he’s been able to do it longer than anyone has for a long time. Again, he is the gold standard right now, and we’re all looking up to him going, ‘All right, how do we get to that level?’”

Viktor Hovland: “Very impressive. Like, obviously we can play well and compete against him when we’re playing well, but he just seems to bring that game every single week, kind of is taking the level of consistency just to another level … you can have a nice little run, but then most of the time you kind of fall back to whatever, a more average week. But his average week is just really, really good. It’s just very, very impressive to watch. Definitely makes me work harder and motivates me to get better and try to compete against him.”

Jon Rahm: “It’s quite incredible to see what he’s been able to accomplish. Every year or every so many years, there’s been great ball-strikers that come up. But when you start getting compared to Tiger and things that Tiger has done, that’s when you know you are in a level that is quite special. To win five times in a season … and winning the tournaments he’s winning. To win Bay Hill, Players, Masters, RBC [Heritage] and then Memorial, you’re basically replicating a Tiger Woods season. It’s fantastic to see.”

Rory McIlroy: “The only thing that took him from winning a golf tournament was going into a jail cell for an hour. … I think just the relentlessness [is most impressive]. Look, a lot of stuff went on in his life, as well. They’ve just had a new child. He’s been through some struggles in his game, particularly the putter that he’s been able to turn around, as well. It’s not as if he hasn’t had his challenges along the way, or circumstances have been a little bit different for him … it seems like every time he shows up, he is the guy to beat, and deservedly so … the most exciting thing about last week at Memorial was when he made the triple on 9. Everyone was like, ‘oh, looks like he might let people in here.’ But he finds a way to steady the ship, make a few birdies when he needs to. Undoubtedly the best player in the world at the minute by a long way.”

Xander Schauffele: “Scottie is doing incredible things. Every week we play, he seems to build a bigger lead, and somehow make the mountain even taller for all of us to climb. That’s all he’s been doing, and hats off to him for being so consistent and playing at such a high level for such a long time. I believe I can do it, but it’s going to take some time.”


We’d say “enough said,” but as long as Scheffler keeps winning, the questions for his peers will keep coming. That’s what happens when you’re so good that the spotlight barely has room for anyone else.

Main image: Alex Slitz


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