After losing FedEx Cup lead, it’s now all or nothing for Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler, 2023 Tour Championship,(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler, 2023 Tour Championship,(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

It only took 18 holes for his FedEx Cup lead to evaporate. Now, with no margin left for error, it’s all or nothing for Scottie Scheffler.

It may seem like a strange thing to say about a player who has won twice this season, but for Scottie Scheffler, it’s just as much a case of what could have been thus far in 2023 as it is what he has accomplished.

That is how historically great the World No.1 has been this season.

We are talking Tiger Woods levels of greatness when examining Scheffler’s statistical ball-striking numbers this season. Per Justin Ray, only the great Tiger Woods has had a better year from tee to green since tracking such numbers began in 2003.

So to have ONLY come away with two wins during a nearly eight-month stretch of consecutive top 12 finishes or better in every single start has got to be somewhat deflating.

The incredible run which began at last year’s World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba finally came to an end at last month’s 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

You have to look back even further to find the last time Scottie Scheffler failed to make a cut in an event, the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship to be specific.

The numbers and figures speak for themselves. An excellent season could have been historically great for the 2022 Masters champion.

Still, with all the close calls and numerous amounts of times he has been let down by his putter when the rest of his game reached all-time levels of greatness, Scottie Scheffler has one final opportunity to put a fancy bow on a statistically historic season.

The crown jewel of the PGA Tour season, the FedEx Cup, is still within his reach, but only just.

It’s all or nothing for Scottie Scheffler this week at East Lake.

As the best player throughout the FedEx Cup season, Scheffler entered this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta with an advantage over the rest of the 30-man field.

Scottie Scheffler began play on Thursday at 10-under par as part of the FedEx Cup’s staggered scoring system. His closest competition came in the form of last week’s winner of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields, Viktor Hovland, who himself entered the season finale at 8-under par.

But just as quickly as that advantage was assigned to Scheffler to begin play at East Lake Golf Club, it evaporated. Scottie slumped to an opening round of 71 on the par 70 layout while the majority of his competition made birdies in bunches on Thursday.

All it took was one round for his FedEx Cup lead to disappear. Of course, Scheffler is no stranger to watching a lead vanish at East Lake. This year’s PLAYERS Champion saw the significant advantage he took into the final round of the 2022 Tour Championship also quickly disappear as Rory McIlroy went on to lift the FedEx Cup on that occasion.

The good news for Scottie this year is he still has time to regain his advantage.

"“Yeah. I mean, I try to approach each round the same way, but I mean, yeah, it is a bit weird starting a tournament with the lead. I don’t know. It’s definitely an interesting format.” Scheffler said. “But, yeah, go out there tomorrow and, I mean, yeah, I guess it’s a little bit of a blessing to have a pretty bad day and still be in the tournament. So, yeah, go out there tomorrow and just keep fighting.”"

Now facing a one-shot deficit in the race for the FedEx Cup going into the second round of this year’s Tour Championship, Scottie Scheffler will need the putter to cooperate in all likelihood if he hopes to accomplish the things he dreams of achieving over the next few days.

The two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season switched out putters at the BMW Championship last week, he is now back to his old putter for the final event of the season.

“It’s the putter I’ve used, for the most part, for my career. It’s the same style that I’ve won all my tournaments with. It’s obviously not the Spider, so, yeah,” Scheffler added following his round.

Scottie Scheffler ranks 145th on the PGA Tour this season in Strokes Gained: Putting, and he has lost strokes on the greens in each of his last four starts according to Data Golf.

He will be hopeful the return to the old putter will yield positive results over the coming days, something that was certainly not the case during his opening round. Per Data Golf, Scheffler lost an incredible (-3.23) strokes on the greens at East Lake on Thursday.

A season that seemingly promised so much for Scottie Scheffler has seldom delivered up to this point.

Next. Will a late injury derail Rory's FedEx Cup aspirations?. dark

The world’s top-ranked player can still add an exclamation point to what’s been an incredible year, however, even with time quickly running out.

In other words, it’s now all or nothing for Scottie Scheffler.