Scottie Scheffler’s dominance through first half of PGA Tour season flew under the radar in journey to top

How good has Scottie Scheffler been so far in 2022? There are a thousand ways to measure the answer to that question, and yet with the 2021-22 season just now barely more than half over, what he has already accomplished somehow seems underrated. Scheffler makes his first individual start since winning the Masters in April this week when he tees it up at the AT&T Byron Nelson (he competed in the Zurich Classic shortly after the Masters, which is a team event), and there will be plenty of fanfare but perhaps not enough given how dominant Scheffler has been since Jan. 1.

Where should we start? How about with this statistic: Scheffler has four PGA Tour wins this calendar year, which is just one fewer than the rest of the top-10 players in the world combined. Or this one: He has earned $ 10.1 million so far this season, which would be the sixth-most earnings in a single season in PGA Tour history with nearly double-digit big-money events still to go.

Scheffler has so thoroughly dominated his competition by winning four times in nine events that he skipped being ranked No. 4, no. 3 and No. 2, vaulting straight from No. 5 to No. 1 in the world after winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play just before the Masters. The gap in Official World Rankings points between him and No. 9 Jordan Spieth is the same as it is between Spieth and No. 223 Matti Schmid of Germany.

Consider his dominance at the very top of the golf world, too. There have been seven events worldwide this year in which the strength of field has been at least 500. Scheffler has won four of those events: Masters, Match Play, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Phoenix Open. He has more victories in the last three months than Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy and Tony Finau have in the last two and a half years (since the start of 2020).

It’s not purely old-school dominance, either. The statistical profile that undergirds what Scheffler has done on the golf course has been astonishing. He’s gaining 2.82 strokes per round, according to Data Golf, when nobody else in the world is even at 2.5, and only seven golfers are over 2.0. Scheffler has been a full stroke per round better than all but eight golfers and two strokes better than most professional golfers on the planet.

It has been a truly extraordinary season, and it might continue to get better. Scheffler won the 2015 individual Big 12 championship at Southern Hills, and he is well-suited to continue his major championship dominance. It extends beyond just his green jacket in April, too. In his last seven major starts, Scheffler has finished in the top 20 in all seven and in the top 10 in five of those. He’s a big-time talent who’s being viewed as a big-time talent because he’s just now breaking through with wins.

At 25, I do not know what direction Scheffler’s career will take. I do know that he’s grounded enough to handle the emotional roller coaster of professional golf for a long period of time and he has the talent to lurk around the top 10 (or higher) for large swaths of time.

How things go the rest of this year are somewhat irrelevant. Scheffler will almost certainly be the PGA Tour Player of the Year given what he’s already accomplished, and there’s a path all of this could take in which he puts together one of the great seasons in modern PGA Tour history (non-Tiger Woods division). Despite the fact that he’s been on this mega-heater, I’m not sure the regular golf fan fully understands that all of this is taking place.

The percentage of world-class fields Scheffler has defeated (again, 40% of the 10 best) is completely ridiculous, and given the way he’s done it (an elite tee-to-green game complemented by a great short game, not the other way around), he should be the favorite at every event he plays from here until the end of 2022. However, I doubt that will be the case, which tells you everything you need to know about Scheffler’s year and how it’s being perceived. For as good as he’s been throughout and as good as he projects to be, there’s a sense within golf that what Scheffler is doing is not being perceived properly.

Scottie Scheffler is the best golfer in the world, both literally and figuratively. I’m just not positive everyone has realized it yet.

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