What if Scottie Scheffler wins the PGA Championship this week at Southern Hills?
How then would we perceive the 25-year-old Texan, who has won four tournaments (including the Masters last month) since February?
Dominance is rare in golf. Tiger Woods mastered it. Some others have flirted with it on occasion, but never sustained the way Woods did.
Quietly, Scheffler, who spent his early years growing up in Bergen County, N.J., before his family moved to Dallas, has become the most dominant player in the sport, at one point winning four tournaments in six starts.
It was only this past fall that Scheffler was a mildly controversial captain’s pick to the U.S. Ryder Cup side, because he hadn’t yet won a tournament and there were questions about his ability to finish.
Now he comes to Tulsa, Okla., for the 104th PGA Championship as the only player in the sport with a chance to win a Grand Slam in 2022, having won four of the past eight events he entered.
That prompted fellow Texan and PGA Tour player Will Zalatoris to say, “Seeing what he’s doing obviously is borderline Tiger-esque … with the incredible golf that he’s played.
“I used to beat this guy all the time,” added Zalatoris, who grew up playing youth golf with Scheffler. “The part that I love so much about Scottie is he’s just such a good dude … and it tastes like vinegar coming out of my mouth, considering the amount of golf we play together, because I love him to death, it’s really cool to see.
“Even the other day I thought I played pretty good at a little [charity] event we played here at home [in Texas], shot 66. And he comes in with 63 and it’s like, ‘Good grief, man, like have an off day.’ ’’
There haven’t been a lot of “off’’ days for Scheffler, who recently called Southern Hills one of his “favorite’’ courses in the world. He won a Big 12 individual title at the Tulsa course as a University of Texas freshman in 2015 and shot 6-under 64 in a recent practice there.
Look out world.
“Yeah, going on to play the next major, he’s going to feel very good,’’ said Nick Faldo, a multiple major winner and current CBS analyst. “You feel like, ‘Wow, it’s possible.’ He’s in a good mental state because he’s winning literally every other week. He’s had a nice rest and he’ll be ready to go on a golf course, one of his favorite golf courses.’’
Scheffler’s win at the Masters was highlighted not only by the poise he showed in leading the tournament nearly the entire way, but also for his honesty afterward about how he had an emotional meltdown the morning of the final round, telling his wife he wasn’t sure if he was ready to handle the moment.
“That’s an honesty we don’t get very often,’’ ESPN analyst and two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North said this week. “That, to me, was shocking that anybody admitted that that’s where they were. In today’s world of mental health and people understanding how important maybe letting those feelings be known. I thought it was quite amazing, but initially it was a little bit shocking that, ‘Whoa, in the old days, no one would ever admit to that.’
“But I think that’s the beauty of so many of the younger players and athletes and people who are focusing on how important it is to have serious discussions about how you feel.’’
Fellow ESPN analyst Curtis Strange, also a two-time U.S. Open winner, called Scheffler’s personal revelation “part of the inside baseball [that] people like to hear.’’
The amazing thing about Scheffler’s admission to weakness was how well he hid it in the cauldron of competition. He walked around Augusta National during the most pressure-filled moments of the Masters almost expressionless, with the look of an assassin.
A win this week at Southern Hills would elevate Scheffler to a place of dominance few players have ever visited. Let the hype begin.