The meteoric rise of Scottie Scheffler

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article


In a game in which only two of the world’s top 10 are older than 30, Scottie Scheffler is somewhat of a late bloomer.

Although the New Jersey-born player is also well below 30 – he is 25 years old – his rise to the top has been more like a giant leap than a steady climb.

At the end of 2018, he was ranked 1 589th in the world. He turned professional in 2019 and competed in the Tour, which was later renamed Korn Ferry Tour.

READ: SA women’s golf is on a winning course

In the same year, he was named the Korn Ferry Tour player of the year. He led the tour on points, granting him a PGA Tour card for 2020.

He missed the cut in his first three PGA events, but still managed four top-10 finishes in 2020, including a second place in the Tour Championship.

Scottie Scheffler with this year’s Masters Tournam
Scottie Scheffler with this year’s Masters Tournament trophy. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

A year later, he managed 10 top-10 finishes and rose to 12th in the rankings, but was still awaiting his first victory.

All of that changed early this year, when Scheffler beat Patrick Cantlay in a play-off to win the WM Phoenix Open.

READ: World number one Scheffler holds on to win Masters

After a tied seventh place at the Genesis Invitational, he won his second PGA event, beating Tyrrell Hatton, Billy Horschel and Viktor Hovland by a shot at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

A disappointing tie at 55th at the The Players Championship followed.

Going into his next tournament, Scheffler knew that winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and the results of other players would see him rise to first in the world.

Victory against Kevin Kistner in the final saw him do just that.

He said after the victory that he did not make too much of the ranking.

The rankings never really crossed my mind. It was always just about being out here and competing.

Going into last week’s Masters, Scheffler was one of the favourites – which is hardly surprising, as he is considered to be one of the best players in the world.

He was third at the end of the first round, then first by the end of the second, and kept that place until the end, winning his first major by three shots ahead of Rory McIlroy.

Scheffler said the long wait ahead of the final round – the leader is the last to tee off – was very difficult.

I just started crying uncontrollably. I was sitting there with my wife, Meredith, telling her that I just don’t think I’m ready for this. I felt overwhelmed.

Meredith, who, like her husband, is Christian and who married her school sweetheart in 2020, told him that he needed to accept whatever came his way.

“Who are you to think you know what God’s plan is? Who are you to know what’s best for your life?” she said to him.

In the final round – on holes 11 and 12 – Scheffler needed to dig deep.

With Cameron Smith staging an unlikely fightback, Scheffler faced difficult putts but made no mistake.

READ: Dispute mars initiative to highlight golf caddies’ plight

Walking up to the 18th hole, he knew that, barring the biggest burnout in golfing history, he would be receiving the Green Jacket once his ball fell into the cup. He had a long birdie putt, which he put close to the flag.

Astonishingly, he needed three further putts to close out the round.

“The minute I [realised that I was going to win] was on 18 green, when I finally got on there and had a five-shot lead. I was like ‘alright, now I can enjoy this’. And you saw the results of that,” he said during the post-victory press conference.

Having reached the number one spot in the world, having won his first major and being the proud owner of the coveted Green Jacket – which he does not get to take home, as it is kept in the club house of the Augusta National Golf Club to wear when he comes back – it would appear that Scheffler’s golfing future looks bright.

Surprisingly, he does not seem phased about what’s to come.

“I’ve never been a guy who likes to look too far into the future. So, for me, just staying present has always been what works best for me. Even on the last round at the Masters, I was doing my best just to stay present and enjoy the moment.”

His relaxed attitude (apart from nerves before the final round) comes from his faith.

My identity isn’t a golf score.

“Like Meredith told me ahead of the final round at the Masters: ‘If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, I’m still going to love you; you’re still going to be the same person. Jesus loves you and nothing changes.’”


Delivering the 

news you need

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Latest issue
Latest issue
All the news from City Press in PDF form.
Read now
Voting Booth
Stats SA's recent consumer price index data this week indicated the rise in food prices was the largest in 14 years. Economists say continued load shedding also adds to the rise in the cost of food production. How are you feeding your family during this tough time?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I have a food garden
6% - 63 votes
I rely on sales
22% - 221 votes
I buy necessities
72% - 723 votes