Scottie Scheffler had 1 word to sum up his worst finish in nearly 2 years

Scottie Scheffler plays an approach during the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday in Pinehurst, N.C.
Scottie Scheffler plays an approach during the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday in Pinehurst, N.C.

This week’s a fresh start for Scottie Scheffler, who surprised us all by not winning the U.S. Open last week. In fact, Scheffler didn’t even finish in the top 10, like he had in his previous 11 starts entering the week (five of which were wins).

Now he’s in Cromwell, Conn., for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, a Signature Event this year. That means a better field and a bigger purse. It also means a different style of golf course than what we saw at Pinehurst No. 2. And Scheffler, based on what he said last week and on Wednesday at the Travelers, is OK with that.

Three days removed from his final round of the U.S. Open, Scheffler was asked how he’d characterize his week. He smiled, before admitting: “long.”

“Just a long week,” he continued. “I would say it’s a tough week. I didn’t have my best stuff and that’s a pretty difficult golf course to try and make a lot of birdies and play some good golf around when you don’t have your best stuff. I think that’s how I would characterize it.”

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Speaking to the media on Sunday, Scheffler said playing the Memorial at a style of course like Muirfield Village “probably was not the best prep work for me coming into another really challenging event.” (Despite him winning it.) He struggled on Pinehurst’s difficult, crowned Donald Ross greens all week.

He ranked 70th in Strokes Gained: Putting and never made more than 65-feet worth of putts in any round.

“When we come back here in a few years [in 2029], I’ll probably try to do a lot more work getting things going on the greens,” Scheffler said Sunday. “I felt like I did a lot of my work around the greens this week, and maybe I needed to do more — the practice greens weren’t the same speed as the course, and it was hard to find something similar.”

Another element that set Pinehurst apart from other typical PGA Tour or major courses was its pesky wire grass that dotted the sandy areas off the fairways. If players entered there, sometimes it was manageable. Other times, it was not.

“When I’m not playing my best I feel like one of my skills is kind of managing my way around the golf course knowing where the misses are. When you have pretty much a coin flip on whether or not you’re going to have a swing or not there’s not really a side of the fairway to miss it on, there’s not really areas you can play to, you just have to hit great golf shots,” Scheffler said Wednesday. “And when you’re not hitting it great, you know, I feel like that’s why I’m usually able to compete when I don’t have my best stuff is the way I kind of manage my way around the golf course, and last week you’re just not able to do that, just with the nature of the grass. Because you could hit it a foot off the fairway and be in a bush, and you could hit it 20 yards off the fairway and have a perfect lie that you’re — and it plays like you’re in the fairway.

“So that part of the course I didn’t love, but fairway to greens, I thought it was fantastic. I thought it was a great test of golf,” he continued. “It challenged us in all the right ways. You had to hit great shots in order to hold the greens. Around the greens you always had some sort of shot because you’re playing out of the short grass. So I think sometimes when the rough is really heavy you see guys playing the same shot over and over again. And a ball that runs through the green goes the same distance over the green as a ball that barely trickles. And when it’s all runoff areas that are tightly mown you pay bigger penalty for a bigger miss, which I think as players that’s all we’re looking for is to have good shots rewarded and have bad shots punished accordingly to how bad they are.”

Scheffler’s T41 finish was his worst since he was T45 at the 2022 CJ Cup, which was nearly 50 tournaments ago.

But now he’s moved on to the Travelers, the last Signature Event of the season; he’s already won three of them. And although Scheffler has yet to win at TPC River Highlands, his caddie has. Three times. Ted Scott was on the bag for all three of Bubba Watson’s Travelers wins.

“He always reminds me of that,” Scheffler joked.

Scheffler is paired with Max Homa for the first two rounds of the Travelers. They begin the tournament at 10:30 a.m. ET on Thursday.

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