Hats off to 2024 Memorial Tournament winner Scottie Scheffler

Hats off to 2024 Memorial Tournament winner Scottie Scheffler

DUBLIN, Ohio — Hats off to 2024 Memorial Tournament winner Scottie Scheffler. Or, rather, hats on.

Scheffler grew up sweating through his golf hats. They smelled. They reeked. They were, in the words of the No. 1 player in the world, “disgustingly gross.”

The sweat-stained chapeaus also helped him win his first Memorial Tournament Sunday.

Allow the 27-year-old Texan to explain:

“In my gym at home, I hang some of the hats that I grew up with. When I was a kid and got a cool hat, I would wear it the whole summer and I would sweat through the hat. They were disgusting and gross and I hang them, so when I’m back there working out I can remind myself I got to where I am now not because it just happened. I remember all the work I put in. All the balls that I hit. The amount of time I spent sweating in the sun and putting in the time and effort in order to be good. Those hats are good motivation.”

Sitting in the winner’s seat Sunday having gone 8-under, wearing a crisp and clean Nike hat, Scheffler explained how he has gone from an up-and-coming talent three years ago to becoming the best PGA Tour player since Tiger Woods. His two major championship wins are not as many as Brooks Koepka’s five. He lacks the swashbuckling go-for-broke style of Bryson DeChambeau and is not sought out for his opinion like Rory McIlroy.

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But ask the guys who play golf for a living. They know how dominating Scheffler is, even when he’s not at his best. Scheffler was Scottie Scuffler Sunday, carding a 2-over 74 that included three bogeys and one birdie, yet even with his B-minus game, he collected his fifth victory of the season and 11th of his career.

“The guy can be off-balance and (his) ball is still right down the middle of the fairway,” said Collin Morikawa, who finished second by one stroke at Muirfield Village Golf Club. “His ball-striking is incredible. Growing up, his short game and putting was always amazing, but how good he hits his irons and the control he has is amazing. Distance control is key, and it’s king and he’s got that.”

Talk about demoralizing. It is one thing to lose to Scheffler when he is at his best, but when he performs like a mere mortal and still earns the Jack Nicklaus congratulatory handshake? Good luck beating that.

Scheffler wouldn’t describe his golf ascendency as having anything to do with luck. His dirty hats give testimony to the time and effort he has put in.

“I’m always working on all aspects of my game, and when I walk out onto the first tee I’m focused on my preparation and always reminding myself I’m prepared for this, that I did everything I could to play well. I checked all the boxes,” he said. “If you see me at a tournament, there’s about a 99.9% chance that I checked all the boxes and I’m ready to play.”

Scheffler showed up on the first tee Sunday holding a four-shot lead on Morikawa, Sepp Straka and Adam Hadwin. Things got hairy a few times as Morikawa applied back-nine pressure, but Scheffler never lost the lead, clinching the win with a 5-foot par putt at 18 after Morikawa’s potential tying birdie pitch shot from the rough behind the green slid left of the pin.

Scheffler described the day as a “fun test,” despite the brutal conditions of wind and firm greens that saw only six players break par.

Golf attracts an odd cast of characters

“Playing golf for a living, you’re kind of just a weird person in general,” he said, smiling. “Just taking punishment constantly. To choose this life as a golfer is not for, you know, a normal person. I think we all have a few screws loose to play this game professionally and just battling week in, week out. So I’ll look back fondly on today.”

As for the past four weeks, it’s been a mix of incredible joy and pain. First, there was the birth of his first child, Bennett, followed by his arrest in a traffic incident outside the grounds of the PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky. Charges were dropped last week. Then came the death by suicide of friend and fellow tour player Grayson Murray. Scheffler spoke at Murray’s celebration of life ceremony Tuesday at Muirfield Village.

“It’s definitely nice to be able to keep good form going with all that’s been going on in the world of golf and for me personally,” he said. “It’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.”

The wild ride continues next week when Scheffler heads to Pinehurst, North Carolina, for the U.S. Open, where he is the shortest odds favorite to win in the past 15 years.

Don’t expect him to coast just because he’s expected to collect his third major title. Or to relax just because in winning the Memorial, Masters, Heritage, Arnold Palmer and Players Championship in the same season he has had a banner career in less than a year.

“Just because I got to No. 1 in the world doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working,” he said.

The hats won’t allow it.

“They just remind me of needing to put in the time and effort,” he said. “I don’t always want to go back in the gym and work out. I’d much rather sit on the couch and hold my son and hang out with my wife (Meredith), but I feel I’m called to do this to the best of my ability, so I go back there and put in some work. Sometimes you need a little bit extra motivation, and those hats are reminders for me of the work it took to get here. And I don’t want it to go to waste.”

A tip of the cap – stinky or otherwise – to the best player in golf.

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