Scottie Scheffler, less than two months removed from his first PGA Tour title, will become No. 1 in the world after defeating Kevin Kisner in the final of the WGC-Match Play on Sunday
Scottie Scheffler found himself on Sunday in the same spot he was in a year ago, in the championship match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Only it wasn’t the same. Far from it.
Just 12 months ago, Scheffler was a 24-year-old pro in his second season on the PGA Tour and without a win. He wasn’t even ranked in the top-30 on the World Golf Rankings. He was soundly defeated by Billy Horschel at Austin Country Club that day, managing only one birdie.
What a difference a year makes. Scheffler came to Austin this week with a win in two of his last four events. He was now ranked fifth in the world and rapidly rising to become one of the dominant players on tour. And the result was different: he walked away with the trophy this time, defeating Kevin Kisner 4&3 for his third PGA Tour title in the last two months.
Kisner found out the hard way that Scheffler is more grown-up than he was a year ago. How do you beat a player who laughs off a bad shot? Who hits a tee shot well left but then fires a bullet into the middle of the green to halve the hole, as Scheffler did on the ninth? Or who flubs a chip shot into a greenside bunker, only to hole out for a birdie?
At the age of 25, Scheffler is the youngest champion in this event’s 23-year history. He’s one of only six players to make the final in back-to-back years and improved his record to 10-2-2 over his two appearances. And, in addition to the trophy and $2.1 million prize, Scheffler will wake up tomorrow to a pretty nice sight: his name at the top of the world rankings.
Scottie Scheffler will become No. 1 in the world with the Match Play victory
His rise to the top of the golf world has been meteoric. Just 42 days ago, Scheffler had no PGA Tour wins. Two years ago, he was a rookie on tour. Four years ago he was still in college at Texas. He turned pro in late 2018, his three-and-a-half-year journey to No. 1 the third-quickest of any golfer to reach the top spot, behind only Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.
“I really don’t know what to say about that,” Scheffler said at his post-victory press conference. “I don’t feel like that. I don’t feel like No. 1 in the world. I feel like the same guy I was four months ago, and I hope that doesn’t change.”
Scheffler grew up in Dallas just dreaming of playing on the PGA Tour. He never even considered the possibility he could reach No. 1. He just wanted to compete and he wanted to win. The ranking would take care of itself.
“It’s not something that I didn’t want to achieve or didn’t believe that I can do. I grew up wearing long pants to go practice because I wanted to be a professional golfer. That’s what I dreamed of,” he said. “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.”
Scheffler still has one notch to add to his career resume. He’s never won a major championship. He’ll get the chance in two weeks when he’ll arrive at Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters playing the best golf of anybody in the field. His long drives, steely nerves, and an attitude that refuses to be rattled make him an ideal fit for Augusta.
He’s doing what he’s always dreamed of doing, and he’s doing far better, far sooner than even he could’ve imagined. He’s the first of his generation to reach No. 1, beating out Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. The accolades keep coming for the Texan, and they don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.