THE PLAYERS Championship 2024

Scottie Scheffler: Will new putter keep him World No. 1 for longer?


Scottie Scheffler has been the world’s No. 1 player since last May and previously held that spot from early April of 2022 to October that same year.  But that doesn’t mean he wins every time, far from it.

In the last six months, he’s been working on improving his ability to putt, which seemed to fall off precipitously in the second half of last year, costing him titles at several events, including majors. He tied for second at last year’s PGA Championship won by Brooks Koepka. He was third at last summer’s U.S. Open won by Wyndham Clark. At those and other tournaments, it seemed to be his putting that kept him from the winner’s circle.

Last week, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he changed putters before the final round, and that seems to have changed his game. Instead of putts grazing the hole, they started going in. And in the end, he won.

“It's not like the whole week I just showed up and I made every putt,” he explained before THE PLAYERS. “I was up a few strokes in putting, but I'm most proud of how I stuck to the process and bounced back from those kind of little mistakes.”

Amazingly, he got a tip on putters from Rory McIlroy who was in contention after 54 holes but did not finish near the top on Sunday. McIlroy suggested a mallet style.

“It was me basically trying to talk about myself more than talk about Scottie,” McIlroy recalled at THE PLAYERS. “When I putted with a blade, I struggled. When I went to the Spider, I found a little more success and I was a little more consistent. I didn't know he was going to put it straight in the bag and win by five!”

McIlroy joked that he wouldn’t give him any more advice if that’s the way it worked.

Scheffler said before THE PLAYERS that he had used a Spider putter last year in the playoffs.

“It was a little bit of a different type of Spider than the one I used last week,” he explained. “This Spider putter is really easy for me to line up. I don't have to use the line on the ball. I line the putter up really well, and I line up in the middle of the face, and pretty much as simple as that.”

He noted that last year he sometimes had issues lining up the ball in the middle of the putter face. Obviously, that’s a problem no golfer wants. He would line up the ball on the toe from time to time. He also said he had a heel strike with the previous putter.

“Just became kind of my miss. Like if I was fighting a duck hook off the tee, I was fighting a little bit of a heel miss with the putter,” Scheffler noted.

What has kept him at the top during periods when his putter isn’t working properly was his enviable ball striking, which keeps him No. 1 in total strokes gained. That translates into a scoring average of 67.48, No. 1 on the PGA Tour. His friend Sam Burns is second in that department at 68.35. That’s actual scoring, not adjusted.

One reason he’s at the top is that he works at it.

“Always working on my grip, always working on the fundamentals. Usually when my swing gets out of whack, it's usually something fundamental that's going wrong,” he explained. “It's going to cause some sort of, you know, thing to happen in my swing and it usually always comes down to the fundamentals of setup and whatnot.”

So, if the putter issue is solved, does that mean Scheffler will win this week? There’s never been a champion who has successfully repeated as champion. Scheffler thinks he knows why.

“There's not a guy that you have seen win on this golf course a bunch. I think it's just the nature of the course, it doesn't really suit one type of player,” he explained. “It really is a Pete Dye, just kind of genius design, where you have to hit all different kinds of shots, and it tests you in a lot of different ways. That's why I think it's one of the best places we play on Tour, just because it really doesn't suit one type of player.”