Scottie Scheffler, the world's No. 1 player, takes aim at a second Masters championship


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler is not, by nature, a selfish person. It's not how he was raised, nor how he chooses to live his life, and if that ever were to change, he knows he can rely on his wife, Meredith, to bring him back to center.

The problem is that Scheffler plays a selfish sport.

“You're out there by yourself,” he explained, “and when you're at the peak of your game, you know, people need stuff from you a lot of the time, and you have to be selfish with your time. And it's not easy to say no, but you have to learn how.”

Nobody is peaking higher these days.

Two years after winning the Masters, Scheffler is back at Augusta National this week, still the world's No. 1 player and perhaps hotter than ever. The 27-year-old from Dallas has been in the top 10 in seven of eight starts this year, including his back-to-back wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship, where he became the first to ever defend his title.

In his last start, two weeks ago at the Houston Open, his modern-era record of 28 consecutive rounds under par finally ended with an even-par 70 in the second round, and Scheffler wound up one shot off a playoff in second place.

So it's not surprising that there are heavy demands on Scheffler's time these days.

He is asked to speak at various functions. Children lining the ropes beg for his autograph. (Adults do, too.) He's had Netflix crews filming him for its docuseries, “Full Swing," and the list goes on, seemingly building with every trophy he raises.

“You have to learn how to say no to certain people,” he said, “because ultimately, when you come out to a golf tournament, you're here to compete, and you're here to do your best. And you can't really get caught up in all the stuff that's going around you.”

Make no mistake: Scheffler's almost placid demeanor masks an intense desire to win. That was evident after he played a practice round with Nick Dunlap, who earlier this year became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 1991 to win a PGA Tour event as an amateur, and Scheffler was asked whether he had any insights to pass along.

“No, he's too good," Scheffler replied with a smile. “I don't want to give him any of my secrets.”

Scheffler was kidding, of course, because — as we've established — he was not raised to be a selfish person. His parents, Scott and Diane, provided that foundation, just as they made sure that golf was never the most important thing in his life.

“My parents pushed more education and being kind to people on me,” Scheffler said. “Sometimes you see a lot of parents who really want their kid to become really, really good at something, and they think that’s what is going to bring them joy. But becoming a really good golfer may bring you a little bit of momentary joy, but it doesn’t sustain it for very long.”

In fact, Scheffler said that winning a tournament “makes me happy for about five minutes."

The Masters glow may have lasted just a little bit longer.

“The way I was raised, golf wasn’t really a huge deal in my house. It was just something that I always loved to do,” he said. “I had a very supportive family in doing so. I have three sisters, and I’m sure they went to way more golf tournaments than they would have hoped to when I was growing up. But just had a great support system at home. And I feel like I’ve said it a bunch, golf is not just — it’s something that I do. It’s not my life, you know?”

He happens to be really good at it, though.

That's why Scheffler is the 4-1 favorite to win this week, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, the most overwhelming favorite to win the Masters since Tiger Woods more than a decade ago. In fact, Scheffler is such a heavy favorite that some sportsbooks are giving betters the opportunity to wager on him or the entire rest of the field.

No pressure there.

“I step up onto the tee at a tournament, my thought process is always about my preparation. I just remind myself: I’ve done the work. I’ve done everything I could. I’ve checked all the boxes,” Scheffler said. “And, yeah, there’s definitely nervousness. There’s definitely excitement, anxiousness. I mean, all those things go through you when you’re out there competing. It’s just about how do you use those feelings and emotions to kind of enhance your focus, and that’s pretty much it.”