(Los Angeles) Scottie Scheffler took a smooth, long shot before watching his ball roll toward the hole on the practice green. He had just used a wedge. It was an exercise. The state of his game on the greens is more of an emergency.
The player whose name appears at the top of the most recent World Men’s Golf Rankings ranks 148th in putts on the PGA TOUR this year.
As the U.S. Golf Open gets underway on Thursday, Scheffler finds himself in a situation where he’s experimenting with different putters. Also, he tries to give himself a little more credit for well-hit putts that don’t fall in the cup. Lately there have been several.
“If I hit a great shot with a 6-iron, sometimes the ball will stop two feet (from the hole) and sometimes it will stop 15 feet. We then say to ourselves that it does not make a big difference, ”observed the 26-year-old American.
“But if I have to go for a six-foot putt, and I hit the ball really well, and once it hits the cup, and another time it doesn’t, everyone’s going to wonder why I missed that putt,” he added.
But those missed putts have consequences. The advanced statistics, not to mention the leaderboard, specify them.
Scheffler dominates the circuit for the best average score and for strokes gained on approaches to the greens. Also, he is the leader of the circuit for the number of greens reached in prescribed strokes.
In an interview in late May, when he finished tied for third at the Charles Schwab Challenge, Scheffler said his struggles started at the Masters in April. He then defended his title, but he never felt comfortable on the greens. He finished in 10th position.
It continued like this, to the point where he went on to comment, “I felt like I was trying my putts towards a hole that was moving.”
Over the years, many golfers have changed putters on a whim, and with great success. When Jack Nicklaus first saw the kind of putter he used to win the Masters in 1986, he asked its designer if it was a joke.
Sergio Garcia, who has often struggled on the greens, wedged a 12-foot putt for the 2017 Masters victory with a flat putter he had been using for less than a month.
“Playing on the greens is so different from other aspects (of golf). So when it comes to putters, it’s personal,” observed Scheffler.
Now he continues to search and test, without revealing his cards.
“You’ll see on Thursday,” Scheffler quipped.