Masters 2022: Champion Scottie Scheffler just wants to play golf

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist

There is an argument to be made that there is no athlete in sports who is hotter right now than Scottie Schefflerwinner of the Masters at Augusta National on Sunday, recently number one in the world and compiler of an incredible streak that has earned him four of his last six events.

And yet, with the biggest golf week of the year now in the rearview mirror comes a strange realization. While Scheffler may have set golf alight with a stretch that has netted him more than $9 million since mid-February, he is still largely unknown in the wider sports sphere.

There is no doubt that Scheffler is the best golfer today, but he is not far from being the most famous, a reality which seems to please him. But it does make you think: what exactly makes a player a household name these days? It’s certainly not all about wins and birdies.

Scheffler crossed the line on Sunday, winning by three strokes over Rory McIlroy, but it wasn’t even as close as that margin seems. Once Australian Cameron Smith fell on the back nine, Scheffler was able to enjoy a stress-free finish to follow his triumphs in Phoenix, Bay Hill and WGC Match Play.

Such title races are unheard of on the PGA Tour since the pomp of Tiger Woods, mainly because the overall competition is so high and the number of variables so large. Scheffler has floated in rare air, not just by becoming the 25th player in history to top the leaderboard.

However, he is far from being as famous as Jordan Speith, Dustin Johnson or Justin Thomas. Not as recognizable as Rickie Fowler or Bubba Watson.

Scheffler has won more tournaments in two months than Woods or Phil Mickelson have managed in the past eight years, but he didn’t make the 2021 PIP rankings which gave multimillion-dollar payouts to the 10 players who move the needle the most in the sport. , based on statistics such as Google searches and social media impact.

Sure, his glut of wins hadn’t happened then, but don’t necessarily expect him to top the list (with a $10 million bonus) next year. .

The morning after the biggest afternoon of Scheffler’s career, his Instagram account had soared to 172,000, but was still overshadowed by most of the Tour’s notable names.

They know and love Scheffler in Texas, where he attended the same Highland Park High School as Super Bowl champion Matthew Stafford and World Series winner Clayton Kershaw.

However, if he were walking down a random American main street with, say, John Daly, he would be the long-retired fan favorite that would turn more heads. Even after last weekend, more members of the general public may know Charlie Woods, Tiger’s teenage son, than Scheffler.

Some of them are understandable. Scheffler played in the Ryder Cup last year, but was still on the Korn Ferry Tour three years ago. Only those who follow golf on a weekly basis were fully tuned in to its sudden surge.

And his performance amid Augusta’s manicured magnificence was so brilliant no one could keep up with him, meaning he wasn’t the kind of intense Masters nail-biter that remains as one for ages.

Part of fame comes from continued consistency over time, but it’s also true that part of the spotlight is reserved for those who actively pursue it, and Scheffler doesn’t.

He enjoys spending his free time with his wife Meredith and going about his business with minimal hassle. He doesn’t use his press conferences to stage a performance and show off his comedic chops. He doesn’t show his wealth, although he has already earned more this year than Daly in his entire career.

You won’t find him battling opponents, like the spicy and often hilarious Brooks Koepka-Bryson DeChambeau spit.

He is a family man, and proud of it. You’d be totally okay if he posted private jet selfies sipping champagne after a race like this, but that’s not going to happen.

He’s just an ordinary guy doing completely irregular things in his sport, against the toughest courses and best opponents golf has to offer. It takes a lot more for ordinary guys to become famous. Scheffler doesn’t seem to want that too much.

NFL stars become megastars simply because their sport is watched with so much passion and attention throughout the year. The NBA revolves around social media-worthy nighttime moments that can build a player’s lore with a single explosive dunk.

In individual sports, it takes different things to make a name for yourself. A fierce rivalry will – think what the Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi wars have done for both players. Heck, during March Madness, a few 3-pointers and a great mustache turned Saint Peters’ Doug Edert into a star.

Even when Scheffler won it all to cap off a childhood dream on Sunday, evening news on some networks led their golf stories with Woods, who capped his inspirational return to the sport with a tough 78 finish.

It’s really good. That’s how Scheffler prefers him, admitting he’s not really the player everyone is talking about. Perhaps he will step into the spotlight and enjoy it more over time, like tennis ace Rafael Nadal and footballer Lionel Messi have done over the years.

Or not. Not all champions have to be the same. Not all triumphs have to look like a Hollywood epic, and not all superstars have to be celebrities.

“Years from now people may not remember me as a champion,” Scheffler told reporters, a broad smile on his face. “And that’s fine.”

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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