US Open 2024: Scottie Scheffler ready for major test against Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele at Pinehurst | Golf News


World No 1 Scottie Scheffler denied on Tuesday that there was a “target on his back” ahead of his US Open showdown with Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy at Pinehurst No 2.

Scheffler arrives as the overwhelming pre-tournament favourite to claim a third major title after a one-shot victory at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday, his fifth win in eight PGA Tour starts.

The American has also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Players, The Masters and RBC Heritage during a remarkable run of results, posting top-10 finishes in 12 of his 13 starts this year and last missing a cut in August 2022.

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Watch the story of Scottie Scheffler’s final round of The Masters, where he won the Green Jacket for a second time in three years

Scheffler finished joint runner-up at the 2022 US Open and took third last June in Los Angeles, with the 27-year-old now drawn to tee it up against his two closest challengers in the world rankings for the first two rounds of this year’s contest.

“I try not to think about the past too much, and I try not to think about the future too much,” Scheffler told the media on Tuesday. “I just try and live in the present. Sometimes it’s easier and sometimes it’s a bit harder.

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The men’s major season continues this month at the US Open, live on Sky Sports. Can anyone stop Scottie Scheffler from victory at Pinehurst?

“I feel like coming off of last week, I was really excited and celebrated for a few minutes there, but my mind kind of just goes on to the next thing. I was getting ready, trying to get out of there and trying to prep for next week.

“I’m not thinking about my wins anymore. All I’m focused on is this week and getting ready to play. Just because I won last week doesn’t give me any shots against the field this week. We all start even par, and the field is level again starting on Thursday. Last week doesn’t really matter.

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Highlights from the final day of The Memorial Tournament, where Scottie Scheffler held on to claim a one-shot win

“I still don’t feel like there’s much of a target on my back. It’s not like anybody is out there playing defence. When I play with Xander (Schauffele) and Rory (McIlroy) here Thursday and Friday, they’re not going to be saying weird stuff to me out on the golf course or trying to block my putt from going in the hole.

“We all kind of got to go out there and play our game. As far as a target on my back, even if there was, there’s really not much we can do in the game of golf. Most of it is against the golf course and playing against yourself.”


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Players pay tribute to ‘relentless’ Scheffler

McIlroy and Schauffele are expected to be the closest challengers to Scheffler this week, although both players are adamant that the American is deservedly favourite to add to his major tally.

“The only thing that took him from winning a golf tournament was going into a jail cell for an hour!” McIlroy joked, referencing Scheffler’s arrest at the PGA Championship. “A lot of stuff went on in his life, as well. They’ve just had a new child. He’s been through some struggles in his game, particularly the putter that he’s been able to turn around.

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World No 1 Scottie Scheffler said ahead of The Memorial that his arrest at the PGA Championship was ‘traumatic’ but he was hoping to move past it

“It’s not as if he hasn’t had his challenges along the way, or circumstances have been a little bit different for him. The word that I describe it as is ‘relentless’. It seems like every time he shows up, he is the guy to beat, and deservedly so.

“This run that he’s been on, I think he’s played 14 times this year or 13 times this year, only once out of the top 10. Seems like he’s always in contention. Undoubtedly the best player in the world at the minute by a long way.”

Scottie Scheffler chips to the green on the 12th hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Scottie Scheffler will go out at 6.14pm BST on Thursday alongside Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele

Schauffele has moved as Scheffler’s closest challenger in the world rankings after his maiden major victory last month at the PGA Championship lifted him to world No 2, although the Olympic gold medallist admits he is still some way away from matching his compatriot’s efforts.

“I think I need some more work to [catch Scheffler],” Schauffele said. “I obviously believe I can, but Scottie is doing incredible things. Every week we play, he seems to build a bigger lead, and somehow make the mountain even taller for all of us to climb.

Xander Schauffele walks off the 17th green during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament Saturday, June 8, 2024, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Xander Schauffele has finished no worse than 14th in his seven previous US Open appearances

“That’s all he’s been doing, and hats off to him for being so consistent and playing at such a high level for such a long time. I believe I can do it, but it’s going to take some time.”

Scheffler has sat top of the world rankings since replacing Jon Rahm last May, with the Spaniard impressed to watch the FedExCup leader’s remarkable consistency on the PGA Tour from afar.

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Paul McGinley sings Scottie Scheffler’s praises following his victory at The Memorial tournament.

“It’s quite incredible to see what he’s been able to accomplish,” Rahm said. “When you start getting compared to Tiger [Woods] and things that Tiger has done, that’s when you know you are in a level that is quite special.

“Winning the tournaments he’s winning, it’s fantastic to see. He’s been playing fantastic golf and doing what he needs to do. As a competitor, obviously it’s an added motivation to see somebody do so well, because that’s what we all strive for. And as a golf fan, it’s just incredible to watch.”

Who will win the third men’s major of the year? Watch the US Open live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 12.30pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the US Open and more with NOW.



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