The Grind

Scottie Scheffler’s gritty dominance, Xander Schauffele’s unfortunate ratio and an all-time viral-video blooper

March 19, 2024

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we have entered a new level of being old. My wife bought me a heated vest for my birthday and I’m in love. I also must say this thing looks pretty sharp (this isn’t me in the photo, by the way):

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Close, though, right? Good-looking dude. Anyway, I’m scared to learn what my lovely wife paid for this, but it’s fantastic. And although she meant for me to wear it on the golf course (if I ever come back from this knee surgery) because I'm a delicate flower in chilly weather, I’m going to wear this thing everywhere. It’s so cozy, and I love how it warms up my neck. Speaking of, that body part became quite the storyline this past week. So snuggle in and get comfy while we discuss that and everything else going on in the world of golf.

WE’RE BUYING

Scottie Scheffler: What else is there to say about the guy? After re-asserting his dominance at Bay Hill, Scheffler made history at TPC Sawgrass by becoming the first golfer to successfully defend his title at the Players. And he did it despite a neck injury that required a LOT of attention during Friday’s second round:

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Ben Jared

And had him swinging like Ho-Sung Choi!

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Ben Jared

Wild stuff. What a warrior. Even Tiger Woods would be proud of that kind of grit. Scottie could have used my vest. Although, warming up his neck probably wasn’t the problem considering he was in Florida. Side note: An on-course masseuse business could kill. I need to pitch that on “Shark Tank.” But back to Scheffler, he gave everyone a chance, spotting the leader five shots on Sunday and then ripped everyone’s heart out with that amazing 64 that easily could have been a couple better. And the entire time, it was Tiger-like in that the ending seemed like a foregone conclusion.

With two wins and a cool $8.5 million in earnings since going with that mallet putter—which might go down as the greatest golf equipment switch of all time—Scheffler is on a different level than everyone else right now. Although this guy is close …

Wyndham Clark: All this guy has done is beat (or tie) 212 of 214 opponents over the past two weeks at big events. Unfortunately for the reigning U.S. Open champ, those two opponents who beat him happened at two different events, and, of course, are the same player in Scottie Scheffler. We feel ya, Wyndham.

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Kevin C. Cox

But that doesn’t take anything away from this guy’s big-game-hunter status. If not for arguably the most brutal lipout in golf history on the 72nd hole, Clark would have four huge wins in the past 10 months. I won’t name names, but that’s more huge wins than a lot of PGA Tour stars. Combined. We say all that nice stuff about Wyndham before showing that final birdie attempt:

That hurts as much seeing it the 100th time as it did the first. Anyway, if anyone can shake this close call off, it’s Wyndham. With the help of his ace sports psychologist, Julie Elion, of course.

The Players: This event often seems to get mocked for having the gall to consider itself the fifth major or one of the majors. Well, I’m here to say that mocking needs to stop. Consider the winners since the event moved to March: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Cam Smith and now World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler twice. Has any tournament done a better job in recent years of identifying the best PLAYER?

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David Cannon

And what DRAMA down the stretch. Good luck to March Madness topping this March madness. I’ve always been happy with men’s golf having four majors given how it makes sense in terms of a potential GRAND SLAM, but perhaps that’s an antiquated system. If LIV players are ever added back (Shout-out Talor Gooch, because the last two years would require an asterisk with all those guys not playing), I think the Players should officially be a major.

WE’RE SELLING

Xander Schauffele’s “runner-up ratio”: If it seems like this guy has more than his fair share of close calls, that’s because he does. I did some digging—and some rudimentary math—to come up with something called a “runner-up ratio.” And Xander’s is very poor among top players. What this means is that he has a much higher number of second-place finishes (13) compared to his amount of PGA Tour wins (seven).

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Logan Bowles

That comes out to winning only 35 percent of the time he finishes in the top two, placing him in a tie with Jim Furyk among recent PGA Tour stars, and at less than half of Rory McIlroy (71 percent) and Tiger Woods (73 percent). Yes, Schauffele won Olympic gold, but he’s still without a BIG (five) PGA Tour title. I'm not sure why this is, but that's just a fact that his win total doesn't make sense. Of course, if you’re a glass-half-full person, you’d say this guy is due. I hope that’s the case. In any event, the only trophy he left TPC Sawgrass with was that “Dundie” that Scottie Scheffler gave him at the beginning of the week.

Being prematurely declared dead: While the 30-year-old Schauffele has plenty of time to flip that runner-up ratio, major champion Hal Sutton was wrongly declared dead by the PGA of America. This, according to Sutton himself, who took to Twitter to let everyone know he’s still alive and well:

Good to hear, Hal.

Recording videos of golfers: When standing in front of golfers, that is. There was a scary moment when Max Homa hit a missile into the TPC Sawgrass crowd on Saturday, but fortunately, that loud crack you hear in the video is his golf ball hitting a tree and not someone’s skull:

But someone else wasn’t as fortunate filming the ceremonial tee shot of a golf club’s new captain:

Whoops. And here’s another angle:

It’s one thing to try to capture video of the pros, it’s another thing to try to capture video of, well, not the pros. We sincerely hope no one got seriously hurt, and we suspect the video wouldn’t have been shared if that was the case. At least, that wasn’t exactly a Homa-like strike of the golf ball.

ON TAP

The PGA Tour finishes up its Florida Swing with the Valspar Championship, AKA that one with the Snake Pit, AKA that one Tiger Woods almost won one time. Woods, unfortunately, is not playing (again) this week, but Xander Schauffele is—and he’ll be trying to improve that runner-up ratio. And the LPGA returns to action at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship. Also, the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments start. And with Wake Forest not getting in (again), I’m all-in on Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes. I know Zach Johnson will be as well. Anyway, to talk about the tourney, we brought in legendary play-by-play man (and Turner Sports colleague) Brian Anderson to this week’s The Loop podcast. Enjoy:

Random tournament fact: Speaking of Wake, it was eight years ago that Charl Schwartzel daggered my Demon Deacon classmate Bill Haas in a playoff at Innisbrook. At the time, it looked like Haas would pick up a seventh career PGA Tour title. Instead, he’s been stuck on six wins for nearly a decade now. A somber reminder that you never know when it’s going to be your last win.

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—Those playing Innisbrook this week are sad Scottie isn’t there: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Xander Schauffele will win this week: 8-to-1 odds (Actual odds, favorite!)

—Wyndham Clark is still having nightmares about that lipout: LOCK

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIRAL VIDEO(S) OF THE WEEK (ON-COURSE DIVISION)

Rickie Fowler finally had enough of one fan at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday:

You never see that from Fowler so the dude must have deserved it. Also, he still carried his drive 285 down the middle. These guys are good.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (OFF-COURSE DIVISION)

And this guy knows these guys are good so he was trying to copy the best:

Although, “trying” might be a generous term in this case.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (MEDIA DIVISION)

Shout-out to Johnson Wagner for doing on-course stuff at the conclusion of each round of the Players on Golf Channel’s “Live From” show. But this reenactment of Rory McIlroy’s drive bouncing into the water on Thursday was the best:

What an absolutely wild segment of TV. Loved it.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS

Likely No. 1 NFL draft pick Caleb Williams looked like he had a great time following around Jordan Spieth at TPC Sawgrass:

Just a couple guys who are great at scrambling.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

This video of Scottie Scheffler talking about winning the Players last year—and his wife—will have you in a glass case of emotion:

So good. And on a lighter side, as mentioned earlier, Scottie paid homage to some of his peers—and to “The Office”—by handing out some “Dundie” awards:

Hey, at least he let his friends win something this week.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We're playing at [the Genesis Invitational] this year and I hit my tee ball and this guy yells out, ‘Congrats on being No. 1, Scottie, 11 more years to go.' Eleven more years to go. Anytime you can be compared to Tiger I think is really special, but, I mean, the guy stands alone in our game. He really does.” —Scottie Scheffler. Amen to that, Scottie, but you’re on a pretty darn special run yourself right now.

THIS AND THAT

Anthony Kim shot 74-70 to miss the cut at the Asian Tour International Series Macau by eight shots in the first non-LIV event of his comeback. Cue all the "this was his first missed cut in nearly a dozen years" jokes. … Great job by Smylie Kaufman and Kevin Kisner all week on NBC/Golf Channel, particularly with that “Happy Hour” they hosted from TPC Sawgrass’ 17th hole on Friday. Need more of this kind of fun stuff with golf coverage. … Owen Wilson will play a washed-up pro golfer in a new Apple TV+ comedy series. Wow. Can’t wait. … And, finally, shout-out to our oldest princess, Julia, for turning 6(!):

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Despite the misspelling on the sign, it was a great party.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

How many more years do I have to pay for birthday parties?

How many more years will Scottie Scheffler be World No. 1?

How much did my awesome vest cost?