LOS ANGELES — As Scottie Scheffler reached the eighteenth tee box at Tournament Players Club (TPC) Scottsdale in the Phoenix Open, his concentration was unbroken, despite the large crowd following him. With water to his left and bunkers to his right, he surveyed the hole before setting his driver next to his ball. An errant drive would give second-place Nick Taylor a chance to compete for a playoff and embarrassment for Scheffler in front of thousands of people.
Taylor had pushed Scheffler to his limit the entire day as he was six under par through seventeen holes. But he was not faltering, matching his score in the same amount of holes. Still, the eighteenth tee could cause trouble.
Scheffler took his swing, and quickly it seemed he knew it was an exceptional shot, as he picked up his tee while his ball glided through the air. He was right. Like a guided missile, his ball dropped directly down the middle of the fairway, setting up a straightforward approach shot.
Scheffler was unfazed by the pressure. It was almost like it was not there.
Scheffler went on to win the Phoenix Open by two strokes, claiming the No. 1 spot on the World Golf Ranking. He displayed his poise throughout the weekend in moments similar to the eighteenth hole and countless times in his four previous victories, including his first PGA TOUR win in the same event.
“Proud to be able to defend my first win,” Scheffler said. “Then, first win of the season, so it was definitely a lot of fun. It was a good battle with those guys down the stretch… Sunday.”
He feeds on the pressure of the big moments because he is confident in his preparation.
“Yeah, those situations are what you prepare for as a player, and so when you get into those situations, it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Now, Scheffler is back on the course this week at Riviera Country Club for The Genesis Invitational. While last week’s victory still has not sunk in, he is preparing to use his composure this week to defend his World No.1 ranking.
Riviera is a challenging course for many golfers because of its need for precision and charmingly sculpted shots. There are no hazards and few out-of-bounds areas, yet the course still consistently produces high scores.
“I think good golf translates well on this golf course,” Scheffler said. “When you’re hitting it really well, and you’re playing good golf, this is a place that you can score on. And the opposite is said, when you’re not hitting it well, this golf course will punish you. It’s one of the best tests of the year, and it should be a fun week.”
He will tee off on Thursday alongside Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa with a composed demeanor.