Was The 2023 Season A Failure For Scottie Scheffler?

Scottie Scheffler, 151st Open Championship, Royal Liverpool,(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler, 151st Open Championship, Royal Liverpool,(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

Scottie Scheffler had an unbelievably consistent 2023 season with two victories and seventeen top-tens but could this year still be considered a failure?

The FedEx Cup Playoffs have come and gone for another season. Scottie Scheffler came into the 2023 FedEx Cup Playoffs with the points lead for the second year in a row and failed to capture the FedEx Cup once again.

Rory McIlroy wrestled it away from Scheffler last year in a thrilling final-day six-stroke comeback at the Tour Championship. Scheffler fell this year at the hands of Viktor Hovland who rode a torrid hot streak and won the last two tournaments of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

It may be a testament to Scheffler’s talent and the expectations that come with it to possibly consider a season with two tournament victories (WM Phoenix Open & Players Championship) and seventeen top-ten finishes a failure. That isn’t as outlandish as you may think.

Strokes Gained Stats were off the charts for Scottie Scheffler in 2022/23.

Scottie Scheffler has been a menace off the tee and in his approach shots, leading the PGA Tour in 2023 in four out of the six major strokes gained categories.

Scheffler led in total strokes gained (2.314), tee-to-green (2.615), off-the-tee (1.029), and approach the green (1.197.) What is truly amazing is that he led the whole tour in total strokes gained despite a negative overall strokes gained putting mark of -22.279 cumulatively in 74 measured rounds. That is how dominant Scheffler was above tour average this year with both off-the-tee and approach shots.

There is no denying the main weakness in Scheffler’s game this year has been with the putter. The putting has absolutely prevented the former Longhorn from potentially winning multiple major championships this year and possibly increasing his tournament victory total closer to five or six on the season conservatively.

Alex Myers of Golf Digest analyzed some of the outcomes of the 2022-2023 PGA Tour season had Scheffler putted merely tour average this season.

Myers did the calculations and the results are certainly brow-raising.

"“If Scheffler had just putted to the field average every week (or to his average last season), he would have doubled his number of wins for the season. Funny enough, the two added titles would have come in back-to-back events, the Charles Schwab Challenge and the Memorial…”"

Potential For Historic Dominance?

This is only taking into account if Scottie Scheffler was putting average which likely would’ve catapulted him higher in the FedEx Cup rankings and may have made it impossible for anyone to catch up to him late in the season.

Scheffler would have had a far more iron-clad case for the Jack Nicklaus Award as well, against the likes of Hovland, McIlroy, or Jon Rahm.

What if Scheffler was putting closer to his potential or at the exceptional level that he has shown flashes of since arriving on the PGA Tour? Myers explored this additionally in his piece just to see how historic Scheffler’s season could’ve been.

"“But what if Scheffler putted like he did at TPC Scottsdale all the time?,” Myers stated.“Obviously, that’s a huge ask. The PGA Tour leader in strokes gained/putting for the season is Maverick McNealy at +1.058, so very similar to Scheffler’s +1.039 in Phoenix. (By the way, Scheffler still only ranked 13th in that stat at TPC Scottsdale, well behind leader Kevin Tway at +2.288, and most weekly winners gain at least two strokes per round on the greens.)Still, if Scheffler putted to his potential best every week, he would have claimed another three wins: the Arnold Palmer Invitational, AT&T Byron Nelson and Genesis Scottish Open. So that would put him at seven wins.”"

Myers concluded further that if Scheffler maintained this level of performance on the greens that he would’ve forced a playoff in five other tournaments including three major championships.

It may be unreasonable to even think about such levels of brilliance but Scheffler’s ability has to garner those hypotheticals. Let’s just say Scheffler won two of those five playoffs; that would’ve put his win total at nine which would be tied for the most victories in the modern era. The most since Tiger Woods’ insane 2000 season.

Scottie Scheffler has been driving the ball and approaching the green with historic mastery so it is only fair to wonder if the Dallas native can manage to round his game out with the putter, then what could be possible for him?

That is where, whether hyperbolic or not, his name could begin to be mentioned with all-time greats as long as Scheffler continues to remain exceptional in his ball-striking.

Could This Season Be Called A Failure For Scottie Scheffler?

It may be extreme to call this season a failure for Scheffler. Many golf fans wouldn’t categorize winning 21 million dollars in a season and ranking as the number-one golfer in the world per OWGR as a disappointing year.

What is disappointing and arguably gut-wrenching is the pie-in-the-sky daydreams of Scheffler putting at a high level and the dominance that could ensue upon the PGA Tour.

What can Scheffler do to improve that aspect of his game? Is it truly an issue with mechanics or is it something mental that is acting as a barrier to further success? Should Scheffler consider a different putting technique like the emerging AimPoint approach or using a long putter to stabilize his stroke?

Next. 2023 Tour Championship Winners and Losers. dark

Time will tell if Scottie Scheffler can make the necessary adjustments to propel himself into the pantheon of golf legends.

That may be too lofty to consider for the moment but Scheffler at the very least needs to get back to basics and understand where his struggles are rooted so that he can roar back in 2024 to finally take his first FedEx Cup from any challengers.