Scottie Scheffler’s US Open nightmare raises questions about major planning

FOur hours before the eventual winner, Bryson DeChambeau, went out for the final round of the US Open, Scottie Scheffler stood on the first green of a Pinehurst No 2 course that had dented his confidence for three excruciating days, carefully eliminating a chance of Lining up 20 feet for bird.

The world’s No. 1 golfer curled a putt with perfect speed and line all the way to the cup, where it defiantly landed on the left edge without falling in. Scheffler stared in disbelief for a moment before stepping forward to tap for par. It would have been hard to think of a better example of how the two-time major champion’s week went.

The faint sound from the nearby village chapel that carried across the grounds on Sunday morning during Scheffler’s two-over 72 – which left him eight to spare for the championship and 14 shots behind DeChambeau’s winning total – might have sounded like an elegy for the Masters. champion. He had arrived here as the biggest betting favorite to enter a major in 15 years, after winning for the fifth time in eight starts the previous Sunday at the Memorial. He had already broken the tour’s annual winnings record with more than $24 million in prize money – nice work if you can get that – and went into Thursday’s game as the first player to win five tournaments in a single season. before the US Open since Tom Watson in 1980.

The 27-year-old left Sunday outside the top 10 of a rankings for the first time in almost six months, ruing one missed opportunity after another on the glassy Turtleback Greens. Scheffler’s scores of 71-74-71-72 are certainly no shame. But for a player known for almost astonishing consistency – whose bad golf is still pretty good golf – it’s been an eyebrow-raising week. For the first time in a six-year professional career that spanned 120 tournaments, he played four consecutive rounds without breaking par.

It took a course from the first decade of the 1800s to accomplish what the world’s best golfers, and even the Louisville police, couldn’t: bring Scheffler’s charmed season to a halt. The tour’s leader in birdie average entered Sunday’s final round ranked 73rd out of 74 remaining players in putting, seemingly unable to read the lightning-fast Bermuda greens shaped like inverted saucers which form Pinehurst No. 2’s largest defense. If it came out on Monday they were covered in kryptonite, no one would be surprised.

The easy-going Texan operates so evenly that his bruises here are unlikely to leave meaningful scars. Even the pre-dawn arrest last month outside the gates of the US PGA Championship – where he stretched out in a prison cell, managed to meet his tee time in the second round and finished in a tie for eighth place – could put an end to what had been a all-time heating.

But Scheffler did admit after his round here on Saturday that he would reconsider his schedule for the major championships, suggesting that playing in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted tournament at Muirfield Village the week before would have compromised his mental fitness for some is heralded as the most difficult test. in professional golf.

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Scheffler said: “I think in terms of preparation for a week it will be as tough as this one, I’m leaning towards maybe not playing the week before. I think if I go to the big championships, especially ones that we know are going to be very challenging, it might be in my best interest not to play the week before. All eyes are on Royal Troon and the British Open, which starts in a month.