World No 2 Scottie Scheffler is making a habit of trading the top ranking with Jon Rahm, but that doesn’t mean the thrill is gone from the fight for first.
Reigning Masters champion Rahm and 2022 Masters winner Scheffler renew their rivalry this week at Oak Hill in the 105th PGA Championship, where Scheffler can overtake Rahm for world No 1 with a victory.
Spaniard Rahm took the top spot from Scheffler in February, lost it to him in March and won it back in April when he captured the green jacket at Augusta National.
Scheffler missed a chance to reclaim the top spot last week, settling for a share of fifth behind Jason Day at the PGA Byron Nelson tournament.
But that only adds fuel to Scheffler’s fire.
“I wouldn’t say Jon doesn’t motivate me. Any time you see guys playing really good golf, you want to be doing the same thing,” Scheffler said.
“So whether it’s Jason Day beating me last week down the stretch or Jon just beating the crap out of me at a couple different tournaments this year, it’s always motivating when you don’t do what you want to do, and that’s usually trying to win the tournament.”
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Scheffler, who turns 27 next month, has been in the top 12 in 13 straight tournaments since last October.
The American defended his PGA Phoenix Open title in February and captured The Players Championship in March for his sixth Tour title.
Add to that Scheffler’s seven top-10 finishes in 14 Major starts and it’s easy to see why he’s among those fancied by oddsmakers this week.
“I had a good prep week last week in Dallas and I felt like I played pretty solid,” Scheffler said. “A few things that I want to clean up, but game feels in a good spot.”
Scheffler said he wanted better swings on the weekend, but was pleased with his putting.
“Coming in with good momentum,” he said. “Looking forward to trying to tackle this golf course.
“It’s definitely a really hard course, but there’s a few holes where there are some opportunities and a few holes where you’ve got to strap in and try and make pars.”
Cool and rainy weather is expected from Friday evening, adding to the test offered by Oak Hill.
“The rough is very penal. The fairways are really firm, so they’re hard to hit,” Scheffler said. “It’ll be the usual challenges: thick rough, deep bunkers. Just try and stay patient out there and play a few good rounds.
“Mostly it’s just approaching shots the right way with the right intensity, so it’s not like a frustration. It’s showing up on Thursday, treating it like it’s Sunday afternoon, and being ready to go.”
While he tries to keep his usual routine for practice and off-course activity, Scheffler knows the Majors are “career-defining” weeks.
“With all the history and everything that goes on here, there’s always a little bit of a different feel,” he said. “For me showing up at the Majors is always a lot of fun.”
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