Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP) – Jordan Spieth can speak with authority on Scottie Scheffler’s remarkable run, except Spieth never liked that word when it was the subject.
Spieth had won seven times in 13 months — two majors, one shot out of four of those, No. 1 in the world and a FedEx Cup title — when he showed up in Kapalua to start 2016 and was asked what he planned. It was made to repeat.
“Doesn’t an encore mean the show is over?” They said.
Golf has had some hit shows, and for now Scheffler has top billing.
His great game His sixth title in the past 13 months in windy conditions en route to a five-shot victory at The Players Championship. Scheffler has been No. 1 longer than anyone during that span.
But it was only 12 days ago when Jon Rahm opened with a 65 at Bay Hill for six wins in the past 13 months and it looked like no one could beat him. Perhaps it is still the same. Rahm never made it past the second round of The Players Championship due to a stomach bug.
Rory McIlroy, who has also been No. 1 this year, Won his 2023 debut in Dubai, He finished no worse than fourth in seven straight tournaments, winning three of them.
All of these are part of a long list of players who have made big runs, and as Spieth duly noted of Tiger Woods, “a guy who made a career out of one run and went on to be the best ever.”
Missing from the current list is Cameron Smith.
He never gave himself a chance.
Even now, it’s hard to tell whether Smith was on the heater or had staying power.
He set the crossing record at Kapalua last year. He Players Championship won Two months later, birding eight of his last nine holes in one. He shot 30 on the back nine at St Andrews for his first major grand finale in British Open history.
And then he decided to move away from the toughest competition to cash in on the Saudi money and join LIV Golf. No one should begrudge the 29-year-old Australian for his decision, although it is one of the strangest given his youth and his potential.
But for such a small sample size – seven months – there is no telling how long and how hot the flame will be.
Smith won the 54-hole LIV event in the Chicago suburbs last summer. He celebrated his long-awaited homecoming by winning the Australian PGA Championship. Otherwise, he hasn’t faced world-class competition in seven months.
The players were awkward on some levels, mainly because Smith was not around to defend his title. what was revived Video PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan at last year’s trophy presentation.
“Cam lives not far from here, and every time he pulls his car onto Main Street, he’s going to get a hero’s welcome,” Monahan said that day.
Smith no longer has free access to TPC Sawgrass, or any TPC course, because he has been suspended by the PGA Tour. During the preliminary round, he was seen playing The Yards, which is an executive course. Such were the consequences of his choice.
He is financially prepared for life. He gets back to golf this week with the LIV event north of Tucson, Arizona. He can win. He can win a lot.
But what does it mean?
much was made about New PGA Tour Model There are eight elite courses with no cut, as there is no cut in LIV golf. But why the rival circuits are nothing alike is because the LIV has only 54 holes with the same 48 players – minus one or two alternates – throughout the year.
Scheffler defeated 144 players in the strongest field sawgrass of the year. Rahm beat 156 players in the California desert and 120 in the Riviera.
Smith would find success in the majors four times a year. This will be their best chance, and really their only way, to stay relevant in the conversation of the best players.
Until then, the focus will remain with Scheffler, Rahm and McIlroy. They are the current “Big Three” in golf, and that could change by the end of the year.
The show ends at some point, though probably not for good.
McIlroy dropped out of the top 10 early, and while he’s clearly on the rise, he still hasn’t scored a major win in nearly nine years.
Jason Day won eight times in 18 games in 2015 and 2016 with no obvious weaknesses in his game. He started the year outside the top 100.
David Duval is easily overlooked because his top was stuffed into a tiny window. He won 11 times in 34 tournaments over 18 months in 1997–99 and was one of the few men to reach No. 1 when Woods was at the top of his game.
At this point, the focus is on Scheffler and his knack for defeating the best.
“I want to win, and I think that’s what gets me excited when we go to the biggest tournament and have the best players,” Scheffler said. “And it’s so fun to me as a player being able to compete against those guys.”
It also used to belong to Anand Smith. He will be fueled by competition against the best. It may not happen often enough to know how good he could have been.
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