Ways to Win: Scheffler Secures The Players
On a course built for dramatic finishes, Scheffler took all the air out of the balloon pretty early in the final round on Sunday. I've had the privilege to play the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course and it is a bare in tame conditions, but after a little bit of rain softened the course, the pros went low on the weekend. None went lower than Scottie Scheffler who cruised to a five shot victory and one of the biggest margins since 2006. I tracked all of Scottie's shots using the PAR Golf app to break down just how Scottie was able to add the 'fifth major' to his resume.
I'll start by looking at the overall Strokes Gained Summary to get an idea for which part of his game separated him from the pack, which surprisingly was short game. The Strokes Gained Summary takes his performance over all 4 rounds and averages it across four categories:
Driving - All tee shots on par 4s and par 5s
Approach - Everything not in the other 3 buckets
Short Game - All shots inside 75 yards that are not on the green
Putting - All shots from the green
It is common to see tour winners have hot weeks with putting and approach game, however this week Scottie was solid in all categories, but stellar with short game. Referencing the PGA Tour website, he actually finished 4th in driving, 4th in Approach, and 4th in Short Game. He was 48th in putting. It is no surprise that short game lead the way with highlight reel shots such as:
Nothing like a couple zero putts to lift a round. Even when he wasn't chipping in, he was chipping it close and taking pressure off the other parts of his game. Whether it was from fairway, rough, or even sand, Scottie was knocking it close and successfully getting up and in over 67% of the time. If there is anything he could work on from the PAR Golf Short Game summary, it would be sand shots where he didn't hit it quite as close as the others. For us mere mortals, its all about avoiding two chips (missing the green from inside 75 yards), which even Scottie had one of those.
As mentioned previously, Scottie was also a really solid driver of the golf ball. TPC Sawgrass is tricky, with holes that shape both ways in order to make sure at least several are uncomfortable for your preferred shot shape. Despite all the danger, Scottie managed to navigate the course with only 4 driving mistakes (driving into penalty or recovery situations). His driving dispersion was quite tight keeping it under 20 yards offline for the most part while averaging over 293 yards with all driving clubs. He also missed equally left and right, indicating that he was able to properly aim and manage misses versus struggling with spraying it in a single direction.
Scottie did struggle slightly with putting comparatively. The PAR Golf putting summary shows that he only gained 0.3 strokes per round with the flatstick and finishing in 48th with the putter means he was just above average. I use the putting summary to dive further into what types of putts Scottie struggled with.
Scottie made most of his short ones, but overall he lost strokes for putts under 6 feet and putts under 20 feet. He actually lag putted quite well including making a long 21 footer on the final hole to put it away. He certainly wasn't a bad putter, but it was the weakest part of a really solid game.
Often as the pressure ratchets up, players will lose their composure and make mistakes... look no further than Min Woo Lee coming undone with a triple on the 4th hole... Compounding mistakes on a short hole. However, when we look at Scottie's performance across the 4 rounds we see that his short game excelled and even improved under pressure. His approach game did decline in the fourth and final round, however after Lee's triple on the 4th hole, Scottie had a large cushion and was likely content to take more conservative approaches to avoid big mistakes.
The conservative approach did not cost him birdies. Looking at the PAR Golf scorecard, Scottie reeled off 5 consecutive birdies in the middle of the round to really separate and put away any dreams of others catching him.
Scottie was the best player all week tee to green. He reclaims the number 1 rank in the World Golf Rankings and sets himself up for another incredible year.
If you want to hit it like Scottie, you need to know what to work on and what part of your games are the strongest / weakest. PAR Golf is designed to guide you in this process and even recommend specific actions you can take on your path to better golf. Download it today and get started on your journey to better golf.