WMPO Player Profile: Defending Champion Scottie Scheffler

Tom MackinJanuary 4, 2023
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Now in his fourth year on the PGA Tour, the 26-year-old Texan is coming off a season for the ages. After winning the WM Phoenix Open in February – his first Tour victory – the massively talented Scheffler beat Rory McIlroy by three strokes to claim the green jacket at the Masters in April. Leveraging his tall (6-foot-3) frame for power and consistency, he rose to the No. 1 world ranking in 2022 and took home $13.18 million in winnings, a new PGA Tour record.

  • CURRENT WORLD RANKING: 2*

  • CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2020 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year; four PGA Tour wins, including the 2022 Masters

  • BEST WMPO FINISH: 1 (2022)

* As of 11/28/22

Photos courtesy WMPO
Photos courtesy WMPO

By the time Scottie Scheffler ambled onto TPC Scottsdale’s 18th green for the third time during last year’s playoff at the WM Phoenix Open, he knew that surface as well as he does the menu at Opie’s, his favorite Texas barbecue restaurant near Austin. But thoughts of brisket were far from his mind after matching consecutive pars with his opponent, Patrick Cantlay.

“Patrick is obviously a phenomenal player, and I knew one of us was going to have to make a birdie,” said the University of Texas graduate following his victory. “Par wasn’t going to do it. This is a really hard tee ball [on 18] for me. It’s hard for me to get it in play, so I knew if I had an opportunity, I really had to take advantage of it.”

During their third go-round on the 18th, Scheffler’s drive ended up in a fairway bunker. His approach shot onto the green left him facing a 25-foot putt. However, unlike the final round, when he missed a 5-footer for the win in regulation, Scheffler triumphantly drained the birdie putt. He then watched as Cantlay’s 11-foot birdie putt slid by the right edge of the hole, giving Scheffler a much sought-after first win after 71 starts on the PGA Tour, becoming the 13th player to do so at the WM Phoenix Open. “Definitely nice to get my first win under the belt, and I think the first one is probably always the hardest,” Scheffler told reporters.

The win kicked off an epic run matched by few, if any, WM Phoenix Open champions. Scheffler would go on to win three more times last season, including his first major at The Masters, and rake in just over $13 million in prize money. And it all started at the WM Phoenix Open.

Now the University of Texas alum and devout Christian – he once caddied for Bubba Watson, one of the mostly outspokenly religious players in golf – is back to defend his title in the high-energy crucible that is TPC Scottsdale. Scheffler admits that the roaring 16th hole is sometimes a bit too rowdy for his taste.

“I think it’s a pretty fun event,” Scheffler says. “It’s definitely different than a lot of the other events [on the Tour], but it’s certainly a lot of fun. I think if it was like this every week, it would be pretty draining.”

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