Scheffler ‘on another level’: Can he be stopped at The Players?

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Scheffler ‘on another level’: Can he be stopped at The Players?

Scottie Scheffler delivered an ominous warning with his dominant victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, leaving PGA Tour stars questioning whether he can be beaten in his title defence at The Players.

Scheffler cemented his status as world No 1 with a five-shot victory at Bay Hill, where he pulled clear of a star-studded leaderboard on the final day to register a seventh PGA Tour victory in 25 months.

The 28-year-old has been a consistent force on the PGA Tour in recent seasons, last missing a cut in August 2022 and posting top-12 finishes in 25 of his last 30 starts, with only putting struggles preventing him from being a more prolific winner.

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Highlights from the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club.

Scheffler noticed vast improvements on the greens during last week’s victory, with that progress now enhancing the likelihood of him becoming the first back-to-back winner of The Players in the tournament’s history.

Rory McIlroy is Scheffler’s closest challenger in the world rankings and is also a former winner at TPC Sawgrass in 2019, although the gap is now so sizeable that even a victory at The Players would not be enough to end the American’s reign as world No 1.

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Rory McIlroy looks back through his ‘rocky history’ with the PGA Tour’s most iconic tournament, The Players Championship.

“Anyone can pop up and win an event here or there or get on a good run, but the consistent performances that Scottie [Scheffler] has been putting in week-in and week-out – every time he tees it up – is incredible,” McIlroy said.

“His ball striking is, honestly, on another level compared to everyone else right now. We knew if he started to hole putts, then this sort of stuff would happen.”

McIlroy added: “The play on the golf course has sort of taken a back seat to everything else [because of the divide in golf], which is a shame. I’d say if we were in a different place in the world of golf, Scottie’s golf would probably be getting a lot more applause and praise.”

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We hear from some of the biggest names in golf to discuss why there’s never been a back-to-back winner of The Players Championship.

Scheffler’s performances ‘borderline unfair’

Scheffler played alongside Shane Lowry during the final day on Sunday, where his six-under 66 left the Irishman having to settle for third and wondering what it would take to beat him.

“There’s probably only a couple of players in the world that can live with him playing like that,” Lowry admitted at Bay Hill. “Not sure I’m one of them! He showed why he’s world No 1.”

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A look at Scottie Scheffler’s final putt to win the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational and his thoughts on what the victory means.

Scheffler was already the leader in multiple stats compared to his PGA Tour counterparts, including strokes gained, scoring average and greens in regulation, but it was the switch from a blade to a mallet putter that helped end his winless streak.

“It would be borderline unfair if he starts putting really good,” said US Open champion Wyndham Clark, who finished runner-up to Scheffler. “I never want to wish ill on anybody, but if he starts putting positive each week it’s going to be really hard to beat.

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“But that’s good. It’s just going to push me to get better in my ball-striking and every part of the game. He’s kind of the barometer right now and I’ve got a lot of room to catch up and get better.”

Scheffler surprised by own consistency?

Scheffler is now the pre-tournament favourite to add to his victory tally at The Players, having claimed a five-shot win in last year’s event, although even he is sometime taken aback by his continued PGA Tour success.

“Do I surprise myself? I’m sure occasionally you know, sometimes!” Scheffler admitted on the Sky Sports Golf podcast. “I put a lot of work into the game, so it’s nice to see those [consistent] results.

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Ahead of the 50th anniversary of The Players Championship, take a look at some of the best moments from the historic tournament.

“That’s something that I take a lot of pride in and I think that’s why you’ve seen such consistent results out of me the last few years. I put a lot of work into it [his game], but yeah, sometimes I surprise myself.

“I think that it’s exciting when I know that we’re getting all the best players together and I think mentally it takes me to a little bit of a different place. I think it’s a little bit of a different feeling and it’s something that excites me as a competitor.

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“I think that’s why you see some good results from me in the bigger events and that’s something that I’m obviously going to hope to continue on as my career moves forward.”

Scheffler was speaking to Sky Sports ahead of The Players, with the full interview released as part of a special preview podcast on Tuesday March 12. Download and listen to the latest Sky Sports Golf podcast and don’t forget to subscribe via Spotify, Spreaker or Apple Podcasts!

Watch The Players live from March 14-17 on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday March 14 from 11.30am on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – just £21 a month for 12 months. No contract, cancel anytime.

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