World No 1 Scottie Scheffler is just fine with Tiger Woods dominating the scene this week at The Masters.
After three victories in the past two months, Scheffler is the hottest golfer in the world and took the top spot from reigning US Open champion Jon Rahm by winning the WGC Match Play two weeks ago.
So please, Scheffler said, focus on Woods and his astonishing comeback tale from severe leg injuries to playing for a Major title only 14 months later – not Scheffler trying to win his first Major title.
“Tiger takes a lot of attention away from all of us, which I think is a good thing for us,” Scheffler said. “He’s used to being in the spotlight. Tiger is the needle for professional golf. It seems like he’s for sure going to play, so that’s exciting for us and we’re glad to see him back.”
That’s far more enthusiasm than Scheffler musters for his ascension, the 25-year-old American having made his big goal simply to play on the PGA Tour rather than leap to any particular ranking.
“Looking at the rankings and focusing on that stuff doesn’t provide any benefit for me,” said Scheffler. “I look forward to preparing and playing good golf and executing shots and being in contention. That’s what’s fun.”
Scheffler admits he doesn’t look at social media much. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, 11th-ranked pal Sam Burns calling him “goofy” as well as “one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met”.
“He isn’t necessarily defined by golf,” Burns said. “He knows that golf isn’t everything. It’s not who he is, it’s what he does.”
Scheffler, who also won at Phoenix and Bay Hill in the run-up to the year’s first Major, shared 19th in 2020 and 18th last year in his past two Masters starts.
“I’ve been playing some good golf. Definitely not going to take it for granted and hoping to keep it rolling this week,” Scheffler said. “My game feels like it’s in a pretty good spot.”
Scheffler has been determined not to let his jump from fifth to first in the rankings change his attitude.
“Having some recent success doesn’t place any more expectations on myself for this week,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done everything I could to play well, and if I don’t play well, that’s just how it goes.
“I’m going to try to do my best, execute shots, and just play golf.”
Scheffler hasn’t seen many signs of being treated differently by others either. Topping the world rankings doesn’t keep him from having to do routine chores at home.
“Outside of guys saying congrats, I wouldn’t say too much,” Scheffler said. “My friends are still making fun of me. I’ve still got to do my chores at home and nothing really changes.”
Scheffler, making his 10th Major start, must fight to keep his top ranking this week as five players could dethrone him.
Spain’s Rahm needs at least a solo sixth finish to have a chance while Open champion Collin Morikawa and Norway’s Viktor Hovland need top-three efforts, American Patrick Cantlay needs a win or solo second place and Australian Cameron Smith must win to have a chance.
© Agence France-Presse