Scottie Scheffler is used to golf going his way. Here’s how he handles when it doesn’t
KAPALUA, Hawaii—Scottie Scheffler’s been pretty good at golf as of late. Seven worldwide wins in the past 23 months, which include a green jacket and Players Championship. Going nine months without finishing outside the top 12 in an event. Reaching World No. 1, and, as of Wednesday morning, consecutive PGA Tour Player of the Year honors, thanks to one of the best statistical seasons in tour history. In short, Scheffler is used to things going his way.
So how does he handle when things don’t?
Scheffler, speaking to the media Wednesday at Kapalua ahead of this week’s Sentry event, was asked how he compartmentalizes his game when the results aren't to his liking. Obviously a rarity for Scheffler, but they do happen, most notably with his putting in the second half of 2023 and an 0-2-2 record at the Ryder Cup. But to first understand what qualifies as failure to Scheffler, you have to know his success.
“How I define success has always been my approach,” Scheffler said. “If I show up to tournaments and I'm prepared and I'm ready to play and I show up with a good attitude and a good approach, so that means not getting too frustrated, not overthinking things, just trying to go out there and execute the shot and controlling what I can control, and that's my approach. Once I hit the ball, I can't control whether or not the putt's going to go in, whether it's going to hit a bounce and bounce offline or if I'm going to get gusted by the wind. All I can control is my approach, and when my approach and attitude are great, then that's a successful week. That's pretty much my top priority at all times.”
In that vein, Scheffler said, the Ryder Cup wasn’t as bad as it seemed. While conceding it’s tough to gauge performance in the event, he felt like his approach for the week was good.
“Yeah, I did a really good job of staying in the present that week,” Scheffler said. “I could have very easily won two of my matches and lost two of 'em. The first match out, Jon [Rahm] just played incredible golf. Sam [Burns] and I, I think we were a couple under in our alternate shot. I don't even know if we made a bogey in that match and we lost like 4 down.
"Just sometimes you just go out and you get beat. Then we go out that afternoon. I played great golf, and then we had a match where the guys we were playing against had two eagles in the last three holes to tie the match. I won one of those holes with a birdie on 17. So that was a match where I played really good.”
Saturday, however, Scheffler and Brooks Koepka lost in historic fashion, a display that ultimately brought Scheffler to tears. Still, he noted he came back Sunday and played well and says he’s proud of his attitude he kept during the loss.
But it was a loss, and, as mentioned above, that’s not really Scheffler’s jam. Yet he says he dealt with the sting the same way he deals with victory: he moves on.
“Life goes on after wins, life goes on after losses. I try not to keep any of that stuff with me for too long,” Scheffler said. “It was obviously a frustrating week, but my attitude was good, I felt like my preparation was as good as it could have been, and I just didn't perform. That's part of my approach. Like, if I show up to a tournament and I feel like I've done everything I can to play well and I go out there and I have a good attitude and I don't play well, that's okay. I can't play good every week, I can't win every tournament, and that's not my expectations.”
Scheffler said he decompressed with a vacation with friends the week after Rome, then went home and didn’t touch his golf clubs for a month. But it’s not the byproduct of defeat. Scheffler said he’s not very good at celebrating his accomplishments, either.
“My wife is very good at that and I'm kind of the opposite in that sense,” Scheffler joked. “She's always very excited, and yeah, I've been able to reflect a little bit on kind of where the game has taken me the last few years and it's very special, but I try not to focus too much on the past or the future, just try and stay in the present and just kind of keep my head down.”