Scottie Scheffler has only played in The Open twice in his career, but he has already learned the biggest threats he faces at a links venue to win the Claret Jug for the first time
Magicians never give away their secrets, but Scottie Scheffler revealed one big clue on how he can pull a Claret Jug out of the hat at Hoylake.
Only two years have passed since he experienced links golf for the first time, but the World No.1 appears at home with the UK’s major based on his impressive performances at Royal St. George’s and St Andrews in the last two editions of The Open Championship.
A recent finish for tied third at the Genesis Scottish Open stands Scheffler in good stead for a tilt at The Open title this week, as he looks to continue a staggering vein of form that hasn’t seen him finish outside the top 12 since October, 2022.
“Like I said, out here you can be extremely creative,” he said. “Basically around this golf course if you just avoid the bunkers you can do whatever you want, but any time you’re in a bunker, I mean, it’s pretty much a stroke penalty the way the bunkers are shaped this week.
“In terms of links golf, I just think it’s really enjoyable. I play Renaissance each year and it’s very fun, and then we get to The Open and then I start getting really used to links golf and I just want to play a lot more of it, and I get a little sad that I’ve got to be done with it until next July.
“The one thing I’ve noticed about this golf course is – anytime my ball is going towards a bunker I’m very nervous. I’m just going to try and avoid the bunkers at all costs.
“I feel like at St. George’s a lot of the bunkers had a tiny bit of an upslope before you got to the wall face, and here it seems like the faces of every bunker is almost a downslope going towards it.
“I don’t think that’s something I particularly like in a golf course. I think it doesn’t reward the good shots as much. If you’re closer to the green you end up closer to the lip, and if you get a worse shot and barely get into the bunker, you actually have a play.
“So I would prefer if there was a little bit of slope there, but that’s what’s so special about the majors. Every golf course is different and it’s a challenge, and I’m just going to do my best to stay out of them this week.”
Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm have separated themselves as the top three performers in the professional sphere in 2023, with the former two contending down the stretch at the Renaissance Club last week.
Much attention is placed on McIlroy at every major event, even more so this week after winning in Scotland. The Northern Irishman won The Open in 2014 at Hoylake, overcoming a different Spanish and American pair of Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.
Scheffler was asked for his thoughts about McIlroy’s role in leading the PGA Tour’s fight to be golf’s most attractive circuit, which has entered a new realm since forming an alliance with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
“I think he’s done a good job,” Scheffler said. “You have certain guys that like to be in that position and then other guys that like to avoid that kind of stuff, and I’m glad that Rory seemed to be one of those guys that enjoyed it and put himself right in kind of the forefront of it. I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily my style.
“Yes, it matters to me, but I also like coming out here and competing. That’s my main focus typically.
“Not that focusing on the mergers is a bad thing. We need people to be there, and Rory has done a great job – (he) is one of the leaders for our tour. But there are also a number of other players that have stepped up, as well.
“We’re all trying to do our best to help improve the tour. It’s just some people I would say would do more of it sitting here versus behind the scenes, and that’s just how people want to go about their business.”
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