Scheffler plays down Woods comparisons: ‘Tiger stands alone’

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Scheffler plays down Woods comparisons: ‘Tiger stands alone’

Scottie Scheffler has played down comparisons to Tiger Woods after the world No 1 created Players Championship history with a dramatic title defence at TPC Sawgrass.

Scheffler became the first player to win back-to-back editions at The Players, following a five-shot win in last year’s contest by overturning a five-stroke deficit in a thrilling final round to claim a one-shot win.

The former Masters champion charged up the leaderboard by carding an eagle and six birdies in his bogey-free 64, seeing him finish on 20 under and a shot clear of Wyndham Clark, Xander Schauffele and Brian Harman.

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Dame Laura Davies believes Scottie Scheffler will be the favourite heading into The Masters next month after defending The Players Championship

The victory is his eighth in 25 months on the PGA Tour and extends his advantage at the top of the world rankings, continuing a dominant streak that has seen him post top-five finishes in more than half of his starts the past two years, leading to his achievements being likened to Woods.

“I think that’s a funny question,” Scheffler said in his victory press conference. “Anytime you can be compared to Tiger I think is really special, but, I mean, the guy stands alone I think in our game. He really does.

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Scottie Scheffler says he has a way to go before he can be compared to 15-time major winner Tiger Woods.

“This is my eighth tournament win now out here and I’ve tied him in Players Championships. Outside of that, I got 14 more majors and 70-some PGA Tour events to catch up. I think I’m going to stick to my routine and just continue to plot along, try and stay as even-keeled as I can.

“Yeah, we all idolize Tiger. He’s been our guy. Watching what he did in special moments over the years is crazy to watch. I’ve learned a lot just from being around him. We’re just very thankful that he’s still a part of our sport.”

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A look back at the best of Scottie Scheffler’s brilliant final round at the Players Championship

Scheffler overcomes injury scare

Scheffler suffered a neck injury during his second round and feared he may not be able to complete the tournament, before seeing the pain reduce slightly over the final two days.

“I just think playing the back-to-back weeks is challenging,” Scheffler added. “Being at the top of the leaderboard last week and this week, it’s a real test mentally and physically.

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Scottie Scheffler credits his trainer for aiding his recovery from a neck injury he sustained as he was able to battle back and defend The Players Championship

“This week was a physical test, as well, just with how my neck was Friday and Saturday. I put a lot into trying to win this golf tournament and it’s very satisfying to be walking out of here with the trophy.

“I think that’s why we put in all the work to be able to finish off tournaments and to play well at the right time. Going into days like today it’s nice coming out on top, for sure. It’s a great feeling.”

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Clark: I can’t believe the putt missed!

Harman and Schauffele both failed to find birdies at the 18th to extend the contest, while Clark also fell one stroke short of a play-off after agonisingly seeing his putt on the final hole horseshoe out of the cup.

“I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in,” Clark admitted. “It was kind of right centre with like a foot to go, and I knew it was going to keep breaking.

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Scottie Scheffler wins The Players Championship as Wyndham Clark’s putt to take it to a playoff agonisingly horseshoes out

“It had speed and I thought it was going to good inside left, and even when it kind of lipped, I thought it would lip in. I’m pretty gutted it didn’t go in. I didn’t really care about the second putt. We’ve already had a good start to the year. I wanted to be in a play-off, so I went for it.

I just played back-to-back weeks on two pretty challenging golf courses that I traditionally haven’t done very well on, and just went second and second. I’ll take those positives.

“I played awesome in both weeks. I’ll also take that I can play in the moment, in my moment against the best players in the world on the best golf courses. I almost birdied the last three at one of the most iconic golf courses.

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Wyndham Clark was left miffed after his last putt to send The Players Championship to a playoff horseshoed out

“Maybe next week sometime I’ll really be able to look at those positives and feel good about it, but right now I’m pretty down.”

Schauffele takes positives from latest near-miss

Schauffele took a one-shot lead over Clark into the final day and still had the lead until back-to-back bogeys from the 13th, with the Olympic gold medallist then birdieing the par-five 16th but squandering a glorious birdie chance on the 17th to pull level with Scheffler.

“I hung in there,” said Schauffele, who hasn’t won since the Genesis Scottish Open in July 2022. “I gave myself a realistic chance. Not on 18, but on 17. If I made that, it could have been a different story. I hung tough, and no surprise to see Scottie’s name up there.

Xander Schauffele lines up his putt on the second hole during the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Image: Xander Schauffele is still searching for a first PGA Tour win since the Genesis Scottish Open in July 2022

“I hit some better shots today in some tough spots. I didn’t really convert on some of the putts that I wanted. When you’re trying to win a tournament you’ve got to make those sketchy nine-footers, and I missed a couple of them or a few of them on the back nine.

“I’m going to lick my wounds. I’ll probably join them [social media critics] in the Hateraide at this moment. But it is what it is. These suck. When I went to bed last night, it’s not exactly how I envisioned walking off the 18th green. I’ll lick my wounds and right back to it next week.”

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What’s next?

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