Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Scheffler: “I love winning. I hate losing. I really do” – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Scottie Scheffler may have already put in the hard yards to take a lead to the back nine on Masters Sunday, but he wasn’t prepared to sit back and defend that lead. Instead, he took the bull by the horns and built on his advantage, allowing him the luxury of taking a four-stroke lead to the 18th tee.

“I think, just like any human would, your mind starts to wander a little bit out there on the golf course,” he replied when asked in his winner’s press conference if he’d allowed himself to enjoy the lead. “I mean, we’re out there for four or five hours at a time. You got to let your mind wander. I tried to soak in stuff around me today. I looked up at the trees at times. I looked up at the fans occasionally to try to soak in some of their energy.

“But did not ever let myself get attached to the lead. I just tried to keep pushing. I mean, I think if I would have played a little bit defensively it would have been a significantly different finish. I went for the green in two on 13, was able to make birdie. I attacked the pin on 14 and was able to make birdie. Went for it again on 15 and made a nice par, and I hit a really good shot on 16 to make birdie.

“If I was just trying to make pars the whole back nine, I would have been standing on 18 having to make par and hoping Ludvig [Aberg] would only make a par.

“Around this golf course you have to stay aggressive. You have to hit the right shots. There’s no way around it out here. You can’t play too defensive, and you can’t play too aggressive. You just have to hit the right shots. And fortunately today I was able to do that.”

Scheffler’s Christian faith is something that is extremely important to him, and he surrounds himself with people who are of a similar mind and he revealed that words of encouragement on that front helped his mindset the morning before the final round as he was grappling with the overwhelming desire to capture his second Green Jacket.

“I was sitting around with my buddies this morning, I was a bit overwhelmed, I told them, I wish I didn’t want to win as badly as did I or as badly as I do. I think it would make the mornings easier,” he admitted.

“But I love winning. I hate losing. I really do. And when you’re here in the biggest moments, when I’m sitting there with the lead on Sunday, I really, really want to win badly. And my buddies told me this morning, my victory was secure on the cross. And that’s a pretty special feeling to know that I’m secure for forever and it doesn’t matter if I win this tournament or lose this tournament. My identity is secure for forever.”

As was well publicised this week, Scheffler’s wife Meredith is heavily pregnant with the couple’s first child but as the Texan continues to separate himself from the other leading contenders at the top of the world rankings, any hopes that the added distraction of a newborn might open the door for the others could well be in vain.

“Well, I’m definitely not going to intentionally take my eye off the ball,” he said. “I will go home, soak in this victory tonight. Will definitely enjoy the birth of my first child. But with that being said, I still love competing. My priorities will change here very soon. My son or daughter will now be the main priority, along with my wife, so golf will now be probably fourth in line.

“But I still love competing. I don’t plan on taking my eye off the ball anytime soon, that’s for sure.”

Scheffler had arrived at Augusta National as the overwhelming favourite – the lowest-priced favourite coming into The Masters since Tiger Woods in his heyday – and though he was made fight hard for the victory, he never lost focus, never seemed to let the stress get to him and, on top of the imperious ball-striking and short game prowess, the added maturity suggests that his run might be sustainable where others have come and gone in the post-Tiger era.

“I feel like I’m playing really good golf right now,” he said. “I feel like I’m in control of my emotions as I’ve ever been, which is a good place to be. I feel like I’m maturing as a person on the golf course, which is a good place to be.

“I think it’s hard to argue with the results of the last few weeks. I’ve been playing some nice golf. But I really try to not focus too much on the past. I’m going to go home this week and reflect on this week and soak it in as best I can. Like I said, it’s not — it’s not a very satisfying sport because I’m supposed to tee it up again on Thursday.

“Back to the grind pretty quick.”

He’ll be forgiven if his focus isn’t quite laser-like this week at the Signature PGA Tour event at Hilton Head, but the most worrying aspect for his competition is that it probably will be.

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