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GAJTKA: Scheffler’s Second Jacket Gives Pro Golf Needed Consensus



I’ll start with a couple of statements to set the table.

  1. I’ve long been fairly indifferent to Scottie Scheffler in terms of rooting interest, for reasons of personal taste more than substance.
  2. While I am in favor of reunification of the men’s game long-term, I believe the LIV Golf League has brought welcome disruption to pro golf.

Now that you know where I stand, here goes: Scheffler’s march to a second Masters title over the past weekend is probably the best organic thing that could happen for men’s pro golf this year.

With apologies to the I-play-when-I-wanna-play Brooks Koepka, who raised his major total to five no less than 11 months ago, golf hasn’t had a dominant male figure on a week-in, week-out basis since Rory McIlroy was rising to prominence roughly a decade ago.

If you’ve been paying attention to the non-major weeks over the past two years, you knew that Scheffler had already developed into the best ball-striker since peak Tiger Woods. He drives it fantastically well and he approaches the green on a transcendent level, and he’s been doing both of those things for a while.

The only thing holding Scheffler back from obvious greatness was his putting. After a period of denial last summer, he committed to fixing it via the addition of short-game guru Phil Kenyon to his coaching ‘team.’

Apparently, it’s worked beautifully.

It’s not that he’s a top putter in the game now, but he didn’t need to be. He was giving strokes away to the field on the greens consistently, and now he’s not. With how efficiently he gets to the surface, all he needed was average putting to start piling up the victories.

But still, even after racking up wins at the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship this spring, the fact remained that the 27-year-old was still behind contemporaries Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa (two each) in terms of major wins.

Now that he’s level — and evidently on the ascent — I feel completely safe in saying Scheffler is The Man for 2024.

For nearly 100 years, majors have always meant more, but they are even more important now that we have many of golf’s best plying their trade on LIV. As strong as the fields at Bay Hill and Sawgrass were, they were still missing in-their-prime major champs like Rahm, Koepka, Cam Smith and a re-energized Bryson DeChambeau. (Yes, 2023 LIV individual champ Talor Gooch wasn’t there, either, but I would never apply an asterisk.)

By convincingly beating the first truly full field of the year, Scheffler’s got the undisputed crown. And regardless of whether you find his persona endearing, captivating or dull, that’s a great thing if you’re a golf fan.

Individual sports are much more compelling when there’s a clear favorite or dominant figure for the rest of the sport to gun for. Obviously, fans historically respond to rivalries between fellow greats as well, but for a while now, men’s golf hasn’t even had one athlete to point to as The Man.

Yeah, Rory’s had his moments — and, boy, are some members of the golf media pulling hard for him — but his decade-long major drought is immediately disqualifying. Jordan Spieth won three majors in three years once upon a time, but he seems to have dropped a couple of levels from his precocious peak. Thomas won the PGA Championship two springs ago, but he’s been a wreck in the biggest events ever since. Dustin Johnson has two majors, too, but he’s looking increasingly checked-out after an initial rush of competitiveness in his first LIV season.

And to be clear, last year’s Masters champ Rahm was looking just as good as Scheffler at this point last year, but no doubt his move to LIV makes the majors more critical to maintaining his alpha status … and he never really threatened last weekend. Valhalla is calling next month for the Legion XIII captain to show up in a big way.

Barring a big pushback from Rahm or DeChambeau or even Koepka in the upcoming three months, Scottie’s on the throne. I don’t see anyone on the PGA Tour, certainly, who can threaten him this year.

That clarity at the top of the pecking order is good news in this era of muddled context. I believe LIV doesn’t get quite enough credit for its field quality, but the reality is that when there are two separate ‘leagues’ to assess, it’s going to be impossible to nail down where they stand in relation to each other.

The Official World Golf Ranking is no longer viable because of this. Just as crucially, ratings have been down across the board for non-major events, with fans getting the message that anything not a major is more or less an exhibition — whether we’re talking PGA or LIV.

So, bravo, Scottie Scheffler, for validating your weekly dominance with another big one. You’ve done the improbable by unifying all who follow pro golf in at least one way.

We all can admit you’re the best.

A 15-year veteran of sports media, Matt Gajtka (GITE-kah) is the founding editor of PGN. Matt is a lifelong golfer with a passion for all aspects of the sport, from technique to courses to competition. His experience ranges from reporting on Pittsburgh's major-league beats, to broadcasting a variety of sports, to public relations, multimedia production and social media.

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