Eagle, Birdie Finish Solidifies Major Contention For Scottie

Scottie Scheffler, 123rd U.S. Open,(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler, 123rd U.S. Open,(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) /

Sitting at one over par for his round, Scottie Scheffler entered the par-4 17th hole on Saturday at the 123rd U.S. Open needing desperately to come up clutch if he wanted to remain in contention and deservedly be regarded as a threat to scoreboard leaders Rickie Fowler and Wyndham Clark.

One could certainly say Scheffler’s finish to his round was clutch. They just would be much more accurate in referring to it as electric.

The former Masters’ winner holed out for eagle from 196 yards on the 17th hole in what was perhaps the most explosive moment of the tournament thus far. Post-round, Scheffler admitted he did not even see the ball go in the hole, but as a good crowd will, their enthusiasm quickly alerted him of his stand-out shot.

"“No, could not see the ball go in, but there was a nice crowd there on the grandstand behind the green. I saw where it landed and I thought it would funnel out on to the green and I’d have a look for birdie and then you could see everybody as the noise started to kind of rise, got excited, and then they erupted, which is always nice when you’re standing back there in the fairway.”– Scottie Scheffler"

He would then go on to birdie his last hole of the day with an impressive 22-foot putt- a welcome sign as Scheffler entered the week ranked 148th in strokes gained putting. The long, clutch putt added to Scottie’s positive numbers on the greens this week at LACC.

Over his final two holes of the day, Scheffler managed to take his round from one over to two under and put himself in striking distance as he now sits three shots back of tournament co-leaders Fowler and Clark.

The number one ranked golfer in the world had a rather sluggish and less than flashy round up until the 17th and 18th. He birdied the first but followed it up with a bogey, raking up four more bogeys before reaching his final two holes. In his own words, he shared he was “fighting all day today, trying to just get myself back in position… Just trying to make some birdies and avoid the bogeys.”

In reflecting on his round, Scheffler remarked on the success at 17 as making up for any previous frustrations.

"“I missed the fairway again there on 16. I can’t advance it anywhere near the green, and it just felt like I was getting punished for my mistakes. Hit a good shot into 2; end up in the barranca. Just little stuff like that.”“And then all of a sudden the shot goes in from the fairway and all that stuff just melts away,”"

The 26-year-old also spoke on the momentum the eagle on his penultimate hole gave him to finish his round strong and go into the final round on Sunday.

"“I’m standing there on 17 tee and just made another bogey, and I think I was probably 4-under for the tournament and I’m looking up at the board and I’m seven shots back and I’m thinking maybe I can steal one shot coming in, but really I’m just trying to hit the fairway there just to give myself some sort of chance, because if you miss that fairway on 17 I am going to be fighting for par again.”"

“And then hit a nice drive and the shot goes in and it’s a huge boost. And then hit another two good shots into 18, nail the putt, and all of a sudden instead of seven shots back I’m only four. So definitely a huge momentum boost going into tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll just keep it rolling,” he continued.

Equipment changes yielding positive results thus far for Scottie Scheffler

In addition to momentum, the elite ball striker can also credit a couple of equipment changes.

Post-round, Scottie Scheffler shared that he switched putters to a slightly bigger one. He noted it to be the shape of the putter he used when he won the U.S. Junior and made a deep run in the U.S. Amateur.

Scheffler also confirmed that he switched his driver out after it “flattened” last night practicing after his round. The backup driver helped him hit 10-of-13 fairways today. It shouldn’t expect to be tossed out any time soon like the previous one.

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Scottie Scheffler will be paired with Rory McIlroy in the second-to-last grouping for round four, teeing off at 2:19 ET. McIlroy who is just one back of the lead at -9 will be looking to win his first Major since 2014 on Sunday.

McIlroy will have to hope Scheffler does not add too many more clutch moments to his resume on Sunday.