2023 Hero World Challenge
NASSAU, Bahamas – Scottie Scheffler put a bow on his season before the holidays with his first win since March, and put the PGA Tour on notice that he may have figured out his putting woes.
“There wasn’t a ton of mistakes for them to kind of use as momentum. It was more of a make-them-come-and-catch-me day,” Scheffler said. “Coming here getting a win this week feels great. Great way to finish off the year.”
The world No. 1 shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 at Albany to win the Hero World Challenge on Sunday by three strokes over Austria’s Sepp Straka, who closed in 64.
Scheffler followed up last year’s four-win season, which included the Masters, by defending his title at the WM Phoenix Open in February and winning the Players Championship in March, but he finished second twice and recorded 17 top-10 finishes as a balky putter held him back from possibly having a historic year. Despite ballstriking that rivaled some of the best seasons of Tiger Woods, Scheffler ranked 162nd in Strokes Gained: putting. Robert Damron, a former Tour pro and commentator for PGA Tour Live, followed Scheffler at the Charles Schwab Challenge and Memorial, which both were held in May, and where Scheffler finished a stroke out of a playoff in each.
“He putted like hot garbage,” Damron said on PGA Tour Network’s Sirius/XM Radio broadcast of the Hero World Challenge. “The ball striking was something I’d never seen before and I’ve seen a lot of golf in my day.”
Scheffler began working with putting coach Phil Kenyon before the Ryder Cup in late September and Scheffler’s confidence in the short stick is on the rise.
“Being the best player in the world, the guy is going to figure it out,” Scheffler’s caddie Ted Scott said. “He got off the rails a little bit and needed some guidance and I don’t see a problem with it going forward.”
Scheffler also inserted a heel-toe weighted blade made by little-known puttermaker Olson Putter Co., into the bag this week and ranked sixth in the field in putting this week, gaining more than a half stroke on the field on the greens, avoiding a single three putt and didn’t miss a putt inside five feet for the first 71 holes.
“It’s very similar to some stuff that I used in the past,” Scheffler explained. “It has a little thing on the top that helps me line the ball up more consistently in the middle of the face and then obviously the grip is different than what I’ve used in the past, but that’s something that Phil and I have worked on together.”
Scheffler had finished second in this event the last two years, but this time he received the trophy from tournament host Tiger Woods, who played his first competitive golf since the Masters in April. Woods made five birdies on Sunday en route to shooting 72 and finished 18th in the 20-man field. Woods said he would be pleased if he could play one tournament a month next season as he attempts to mount a comeback from yet another surgery.
“There’s no reason why I can’t get into that rhythm. It’s just a matter of getting in better shape basically,” he said. “I feel like my game’s not that far off, but I need to get in better shape.”
He’ll have to bring his ‘A game’ to keep up with the likes of Scheffler, who shot 20-under 268.
“He probably won’t shoot less than 20 under most weeks if he putts that well,” said Jordan Spieth, who finished sixth.
Nursing a three-stroke lead going into the final round after shooting 69-66-65, Scheffler never made a mistake to give any of his fellow competitors a chance to pounce. He sealed the deal with a 7-iron to 10 feet at the par-5 15th to set up a two-putt birdie.
“It’s definitely nice kind of having the momentum of a win as I go into preparing for next season,” Scheffler said. “I mean, couldn’t get better momentum than this, you know.”
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