Frustrated Scheffler slams driver, may miss cut


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PINEHURST, N.C. — There was nowhere else for Scottie Scheffler to let out his frustration. So, after his tee shot on the 18th hole veered out to the left and landed in the native area, Scheffler took his driver and slammed it to the ground. The sound it made was followed by a surprised silence from the Pinehurst galleries. For Scheffler, it wasn’t enough. He grabbed his tee and threw it in disgust.

It was that kind of day for the No. 1 player in the world.

After grinding his way to a round of 1-under 71 on Thursday, Scheffler fell victim to Pinehurst No. 2’s devilish greens Friday, carding two bogeys, one double bogey and zero birdies (for the first time in 168 rounds) on his way to a 74. He finished 5 over and is in danger of missing the cut at a major for the first time since the 2022 PGA Championship.

“It was definitely a grind,” Scheffler said. “Yesterday I felt like I played really well and got a lot out of my game, which I feel like I’ve done a good job of this year. Today was kind of the opposite.”

Scheffler still gained shots on the field with his stellar approach game, but his short game and putting failed him. Nowhere was that more evident than on the par-5 fifth hole.

After a 322-yard drive, Scheffler attempted to attack the left pin on the green in two shots. The ball landed on the surface but immediately trickled off the green and into the native area well below the hole. His first attempt at a chip onto the green didn’t make it and rolled back to his feet. He played his second well over the flag and that went over the green. When the putt for bogey missed the hole, all Scheffler could do was chuckle at his demise.

“I think that’s part of the mystery of the kind of sandy areas. You get down there and it’s kind of luck of the draw whether you have a shot,” Scheffler said. “This golf course can be unpredictable at times, and maybe it got the better of me the last couple days … but it’s my job to not hit it in there as much as I did.”

Scheffler said after the round that playing a tough course like No. 2 is “fun,” but he admitted that he didn’t actually have a good time struggling to play well enough to score on the difficult setup.

“Playing poor golf is not fun, but I like the challenging aspect of it,” Scheffler said. “The unpredictability of the native areas maybe got to me a little bit.”

All throughout the day, Scheffler’s exasperation took on many forms. On the par-3 17th, Scheffler’s shot did not fade toward the pin and instead stayed out left, landing not in the greenside bunker but on top of it. Upon striking it, Scheffler’s immediate reaction was to refer to himself in the third person.

“Maybe the worst shot I’ve ever seen you hit,” he said out loud.

The struggles trickled onto the greens where Scheffler lost over three strokes to the field when using his putter. At one point, on the 15th hole, yet another missed putt caused him to toss his putter in the air like a baton and let it fall onto the green.

“I wasn’t seeing the break right on the greens,” Scheffler said. “Wasn’t able to hit it close enough down the stretch to get some good looks.”

To say that Scheffler’s day was uncharacteristic would be an understatement. He said after his round that there was some fatigue involved in the preparation for this tournament and that he’ll take time to assess if it’s worth it to play the week before a major. At Augusta, where he’s won twice now, he did not play the week before.

“It definitely was a bit of a fatigue aspect, but I was ready to play,” Scheffler said. “Maybe this week, stepping up on Thursday I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been.”

Even though Scheffler said he doesn’t think 5-over will make the weekend, he has shown time and time again that he can still rise to the top without his best game. Should he make the cut at Pinehurst, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him ascend up the leaderboard again.

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