Scottie Scheffler Shows No Signs of Slowing Down As He Enters 2024 U.S. Open

Fresh off a win at the Memorial, Scheffler has “lost’’ to a total of nine players over his last eight tournaments. He enters this U.S. Open as the clear man to beat, writes Bob Harig.
Scottie Scheffler has won five titles this season, including the Masters.
Scottie Scheffler has won five titles this season, including the Masters. / Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

PINEHURST, N.C. — Scottie Scheffler is a Pinehurst neophyte. Before this week, he had never been to the famed North Carolina course. His experience at the U.S. Open venue consisted of studying flyovers and video.

Perhaps this will be his undoing.

Donald Ross’s dastardly inverse saucer greens are known to repel good shots. Maybe Scheffler doesn’t have enough time to study the No. 2 course’s nuances, its subtleties. Maybe his sometimes fragile putting will be put under extreme duress. Maybe it’s all too much on the back of another impressive victory.

You can certainly look for reasons why Scheffler won’t win this week. The sleepless nights associated with being a new father. The quick turnaround after a stressful week at the Memorial. Nightmares about Bryan Gillis, the Louisville police officer who arrested him at the PGA Championship.

The notion seems a bit desperate.

Not even Jack Nicklaus’s vaunted Muirfield Village Golf Club could do it. The course that ranked second in difficulty this year on the PGA Tour behind Augusta National provided a stern test, especially Sunday. Scheffler, who had a four-shot lead, could manage just a single birdie. And for only the third time this year, he failed to shoot par or better.

But even with a final-round score of 74, Scheffler still prevailed. He won for the fifth time in 2024, pushed his season earnings to more than $24 million and stamped himself a huge favorite this week at Pinehurst.

“Just because I'm the favorite doesn't really have any effect on my score,’’ Scheffler said. “I think we all start at even par, if I remember correctly.

“It's a good place to be. I like how my game's feeling right now. I feel like I've been playing some good golf. It's great to see some results too and some wins. Out here the margins are so small between winning and losing. It's a putt or a shot here or there. Fortunately, today I was able to hit the shots when I needed to and hopefully going into next week I'm going it stick to my game plan and prepare the way I usually would and get ready to go out and compete again on Thursday.’’

If you’re Collin Morikawa, you must be wondering what you have to do to prevail.

Morikawa, a two-time major winner, has been trending nicely of late. He played in the final group with Scheffler at the Masters, where Scottie won his second green jacket. He’s been around the lead at several tournaments, including the PGA Championship, where he played the final round with Bryson DeChambeau.

He had his chances again Sunday, trying in vain to make up the four-stroke deficit, twice on the back nine having a chance to tie before Scheffler made the clutch 16-footer for par at the 16th hole that gave him the two-shot lead and enough cushion over the final two holes.

“I would love to be on the opposite end of this,’’ said Morikawa, who is now ranked seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking. “I mean, we talk about progress. Look, I've done it before, so it's not like I'm trying to learn how to close out a Sunday round. I'm still just trying to put together the whole golf game and kind of piece everything together. It's coming together, but there's still a few little things you look back through out the entire week that you just clean up and things become a little bit easier, right?

“It's a lot of fun, obviously, being in these final rounds and being in these final groupings. I haven't seen it for quite some time and to kind of have this like two-month stretch so far, it's been a lot of fun.’’

While Morikawa is the first admit that Scheffler’s run is incredibly impressive, he’s certainly not conceding anything, either.

“No, if I could play like this heading into every major, I would take it in a heartbeat,’’ Morikawa said. “Scottie's obviously proven himself this year and the past, let's call it three, three-and-a-half years of what he's capable of doing, but majors are majors and you got to show up and you got to have the good bounces, especially I think (this) week, a lot of the sand dunes and the bushes around, like, things got to go your way and then hopefully (this) week is one of my good ones.’’

Scheffler is doing some historic stuff. One of the more eye-opening achievements is this: his five victories going into the U.S. Open is the most of any player since Arnold Palmer in 1962. Not even Tiger Woods did that. (It should be noted that Palmer lost that U.S. Open in a playoff to a guy named Nicklaus, the first of the Golden Bear’s 73 PGA Tour wins.)

Scheffler joined Woods as the only players to win the Arnold Palmer, Players, Masters and Memorial in the same year, something Tiger did in 2001. It’s impressive stuff and should be enjoyed while it’s here. Scheffler is giving golf the front-runner that it loves. Going back to March, he’s “lost’’ to a total of nine players over eight tournaments.

Very little has been able to throw Scheffler off of late. The police incident at the PGA Championship still saw him tie for eighth. The birth of a baby hasn’t kept him from getting his rest—we think. In fact, wife Meredith and son, Bennett, were at Muirfield Village on Sunday to greet the new winner after Nicklaus gave the customary handshake.

Scheffler seems to deflect any distractions, which might be the best asset he will have this week at the U.S. Open.

“Yeah, it's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster,’’ he said. “I think that's a pretty accurate description, I think, of what it's felt like at times. Yeah, it's definitely nice to be sitting here a winner again.’’


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a golf writer for SI.com and the author of the book "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods," which publishes in March and can be ordered here.