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World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is just like us in golf, only a lot better

June 8, 2024;  Dublin, Ohio, USA;  Scottie Scheffler hits from the 18th fairway during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

June 8, 2024; Dublin, Ohio, USA; Scottie Scheffler hits from the 18th fairway during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

The No. 1 golfer in the world looked just like us at the Memorial Tournament on Saturday. For one hole.

When Scottie Scheffler hooked his tee shot at No. 9 over a fence into the woods, many of the shocked spectators at Muirfield Village Golf Club shared the same thought: “He looks like me.”

When Scheffler made the re-tee and hit his penalty shot into the right rough, you could almost hear the crowd laughing: “Feels familiar.”

And when Scheffler cut from the deep rough and ran his golf ball down the fairway into rougher terrain, amateur hackers everywhere nodded in agreement: “Been there, done that.”

Finally, Scheffler found the green, 13 feet from the pin. He two-putted for a triple-bogey 7. Many of us would have three-putted for an 8, but you get the idea.

What sets golf apart from most other sports is that the separation between the pros and us feels both tantalizingly close and incredibly far away. Those who play the game for a living occasionally hit clunkers and sometimes fail to get out of the sand. We can relate.

So when Scheffler pulled his tee shot to No. 9, welcome to the club, dude.

We don’t do that in other sports. No one sees LeBron James shoot an air ball and brag, “I can guard him.” And only a fool sees Shohei Ohtani strike out and brags, “I would have hit that pitch.”

Ah, but PGA Tour players always have the last laugh. Sure, they make stray shots and miss quadrupeds, but most of the time their level of expertise is hard to fathom.

The average high-handicap amateur is amazed at the skill of a scratch golfer when the two play together on a public course; that scratch player can’t believe how well the club professional is doing; Few club pros ever get a taste of making it to the lower level pro tours.

These guys are really good

Those mini tour guys can only dream of playing on the Korn Ferry Tour, which is right below the PGA Tour. The majority of Korn Ferry guys never qualify for the PGA Tour. A PGA Tour ‘journeyman’ would clean an amateur’s clock every time, but then struggle to compete against the top 10 players in the world.

The top 10 is the cream of the crop, but even between them there is a clear separation. And his name is Scheffler.

That’s right, the same guy who pulled off his drive at No. 9 for New Albany is so much better than anyone right now, and it’s not even close.

Adam Hadwin, who enters Sunday’s final round tied for second place, four shots behind Scheffler, marveled at Scheffler’s play.

“He’s as solid as they come,” Hadwin said. “He is not the number 1 player in the world for nothing. He’s way above the No. 1 player in my opinion, especially after seeing today.”

Hadwin was three shots behind Scheffler through eight holes, but had to feel he had a chance when the triple bogey at No. 9 dropped the 27-year-old Texan back to even at 8 under par.

June 8, 2024;  Dublin, Ohio, USA;  Scottie Scheffler and Adam Hadwin shake hands after completing their rounds during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.June 8, 2024;  Dublin, Ohio, USA;  Scottie Scheffler and Adam Hadwin shake hands after completing their rounds during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

June 8, 2024; Dublin, Ohio, USA; Scottie Scheffler and Adam Hadwin shake hands after completing their rounds during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

“Obviously there were a few gaps where some things didn’t go our way,” Hadwin said. “But the way he started and the way he did – the sound of his swing and the ball flight and the shape of the shots – I don’t expect him to lose this golf tournament. One of us will have to run tomorrow.”

Scheffler, who declined to be interviewed except by Golf Channel and the Associated Press, proved his mental state at No. 10. A blowout like No. 9 sometimes derails an entire round, but he bounces back with a birdie at No. 10. birdied 12 and 15 before finishing with a bogey on 18.

“It was a slight pull, nothing drastic,” Scheffler told Golf Channel of his drive on the back nine, adding that he was proud of the way he rebounded on the back nine.

His career is also on the rise. Scheffler turned pro in 2018, but did not compete on the PGA Tour until 2020. It took him a year to get up to speed, but since 2021 his game has accelerated. In 123 starts, he has 10 wins and 54 top-10s. Four of the wins have come in the last three months.

Scheffler’s dominance is so great that he is favored to win every time he saves it. Golf hasn’t seen this kind of mastery of the sport since Tiger Woods.

But please pump the brakes on comparing the best in the world to the best ever. Through his first 123 starts, Woods won 33 times and had 79 top-10s. Really incredible stuff. So amazing that compared to Tiger, Scottie really does look like the rest of us.

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This article originally appeared in The Columbus Dispatch: Scottie Scheffler leads the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament after Round 3

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