Scottie Scheffler's historic ball-striking performance cut short by historically bad putting
The adage “Drive for show, putt for dough” has long been disapproved, at least at the professional ranks. It’s ball-striking, specifically the tee-to-green game, that separates the average from good and the good from great. Putting is merely a passenger on the train, along for the journey yet far from the catalyst for making the engine purr.
That said, an unruly passenger can halt a journey in its tracks. Anyone who doubts that just needs to ask Scottie Scheffer.
The World No. 1 turned in a five-under 67 Sunday at the Memorial, the best round of the day and the only score to break 70, vaulting Scheffler from outside the top 30 at the beginning of the round to finishing a shot short of a playoff. Scheffler did it through a tour-de-force ball-striking performance, gaining a massive 20.705 strokes over the field from tee-to-green. If that sounds ridiculous, well it is: In the PGA Tour ShotLink era, only Vijay Singh has recorded a better performance in the category:
One major caveat: Singh won the 2004 Deutsche Bank Championship, while Scheffler finished third at the Memorial. And the reason why Scheffler did not win is obvious.
In spite of his driving and second-shot prowess, Scheffler is struggling mightily with his putter as of late. After finishing 71st out of 72 players to make the cut last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge in strokes gained/putting (where he also missed a playoff by a shot), Scheffler finished last out of those to make the weekend at Muirfield Village, losing an eye-popping 8.5 strokes to the field on the greens. Had Scheffler gone on to win the Memorial, it would have been the worst strokes gained/putting figure in PGA Tour history … by nearly four strokes.
However, despite the output, Scheffler asserts he’s getting better with his flatstick, even if the results aren’t there just yet.
“I feel like I'm making progress,” Scheffler said. “Like I said at the PGA, I can start feeling the ball coming off the blade again, which is good. I felt like at the Masters and was it Hilton Head? It didn't feel as good … Sometimes those putts go in and sometimes they don't.
“Jon [Rahm] and I, we're playing together and we were kind of joking after the round, I think, on Friday how bad we were both putting. But we both were thinking the same thing, that some of those putts look like they're going in and about two feet away you're ready to go pick it up out of the hole and then it just doesn't fall. It's confusing. It's frustrating. I'm pretty frustrated with it right now. But I fought hard, I never gave up, and I put up a good fight.”
Scheffler now has 12 top-10 finishes in 16 starts this year, including a win at the Players Championship, the tour’s flagship event. Should he ultimately get right with the putter, the Texan could be ready to go on a tear this summer.