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There is a scarred wall in Texas that tells a truth and kicks away at a myth. The myth is about Scottie Scheffler and the flat lines of a personality that have never knowingly ventured to extremes during his astonishing rise through golf.
He is, by consensus, a gentle assassin. An ‘aw shucks’ kind of killer. A man of deep faith who has won five PGA Tour titles and the Masters in the past 14 months, but does not go for the throat with his words.
Certainly, he is the more sedate of the three kings of golf who will begin as huge favourites at Augusta. While Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm breathe fire when the topic is right, Scheffler, the youngest of the trio at 26, brings the ice. And ice goes well with champagne.
To borrow the exaggerated observation of Brooks Koepka, delivered as a compliment on Full Swing: ‘The best player in the world doesn’t have any damn thoughts in his head.’
So let’s go back to that wall and the origin story of how tranquillity was a process rather than a permanent state for the reigning champion of Augusta. The man sharing the yarn is laughing because John Fields, the head golf coach at the University of Texas, has seen other sides of the world No1 and has a deeper understanding of how the Master was made.
Scottie Scheffler (above) is more sedate than his great rivals Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm
‘If you want a competitor, he is your man,’ says Fields, and he has seen a few, having also applied the final coats of polish to Jordan Spieth before he went out into the world. Scheffler was a finance student on Fields’ programme from the age of 18 until his graduation at 22 in 2018 and he made his mark in a number of ways.
‘We’ve had holes in the gymnasium wall that I’ll tell you about,’ says Fields. ‘It was by the table tennis. Because of Scottie and a couple of other young men, we decided to put padding two or three inches thick on that wall. They got their anger or their competitiveness out and we got tired of seeing these holes in the wall. Scottie is a guy who just did not want to lose. At anything. As a coach, you do not want to take that out of someone.’
He has other tales to tell and all with great affection. Fields adds: ‘People talk about Ben Crenshaw [the 1984 and 1995 Masters champion] and his nickname is Gentle Ben, right? It was a joke that was given to him, because he was anything but gentle. He grew into that but his dad had to take them off the golf course multiple times when he was young.
‘Scottie never was taken off the golf course, although his dad was very firm with him and a really great mentor. But Scotty has grown into this guy that you see today. Scottie has this burning fire in him and sometimes it would spill over in high school and sometimes in college.
‘There were a couple of times that stick in my mind. We were in a particular tournament at Pumpkin Ridge. He had a shot that he wasn’t happy with and something came out of his mouth that wasn’t very good and one of the coaches took offence to it. Scottie apologised at the end of the day. Keep in mind, we’re coaching 18 to 22-year-olds and, from a certain regard, there’s some immaturity there. Scottie recognised he had made a mistake and took ownership of it. That’s important to growing.’
Fields enjoys these memories. They play to an internal drive that made Scheffler a three-time state champion in high school at Highland Park in Dallas — tying a record set by Spieth — and the winner of the US Junior Amateur Championships in 2013. They also point to how he came to be a great force in the hothouse of American college golf despite a series of injuries to his back and other places. Resilience and hunger, Fields believes, are as significant as any other weapon in Scheffler’s bag and have been key to how he stormed through the professional game.
‘I remember his freshman year,’ says Fields. ‘He had just won two tournaments consecutively and we were playing a regional tournament. On the final day, he got really upset with a shot that