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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Charm is one of golf’s most underrated qualities, and difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. Barbara Nicklaus has charm, Joel Dahmen’s caddie (Geno Bonnalie) has charm, Paul McGinley has charm. And here’s a shocker for you:

This Scottie Scheffler, a Texan by way of New Jersey, is loaded with charm.

If you haven’t seen him up-close and personal, you might not know.

Yes, Scottie Scheffler.

You might be saying: Well, how hard is it to be charming when all you do is win? After all, Scheffler won the Players Championship on Sunday. Also last year’s Players Championship. (He’s the first player in the Players’ 50 years to win in back-to-back years.) Also last week’s Bay Hill tournament. Also the 2022 Masters. He has eight PGA Tour wins in not even five years and says (credibly) that he has no interest in the guaranteed LIV Golf paydays. It’s refreshing (and charming) how quickly he dismisses the discussion, and how he blames the turmoil in professional golf on the various stars who left the PGA Tour for LIV in the first place. That is certainly an efficient and logical way to look at the whole thing.

As for the charm thing: perennial winning can be a charm killer. Consider the Yankees in their heyday and Tiger Woods in his; the New England Patriots in their heyday and Novak Djokovic in his. Greatness runs through that foursome, of course. But would you call those teams or superstars charming?

And then there is Scottie Scheffler. As there was something about Mary Jensen (There’s Something about Mary), there is something about Scottie. The way he ambles along the fairways, toes out. The way he looks almost klutzy in his follow-through, to say nothing of his herky-ish backswing. It’s a very Exit 11 (NJT) swing.

Not judging! This reporter has logged a lot of miles on the New Jersey Turnpike, and can recommend the shakes at the Shake Shack at the Molly Pitcher rest stop. As for Scheffler, to the question of Bruce or Willie, the answer is both.


Scottie Scheffler has to be the most mature 27-year-old the modern PGA Tour has ever seen, with a beard more rabbinical than piratical. It’s worth noting because he notes it, that Scheffler and his wife (Meredith) and his caddie (Ted Scott) are all devout Christians. For St. Patrick’s Day, Scheffler’s outfit featured pale lime-green pants with a color-coordinated belt. By the time he put the finishing touches on his Sunday 64, the front hem of his shirt was half out, right on brand for a player who cannot be bothered to make fastidious fashion choices. He’s lucky to have Nike to do the work for him, but you’re unlikely to see any Nike spots with a complete-the-Scottie-look theme.

And it’s a relief.

Scheffler won this 50th Players Championship from the driving range. He was in the house (charming phrase invented a century ago!) at 20 under. The crowd noise from the fans around the 18th green was better than any text alert he could get. It told him that the two players in the final twosome, Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark, both of whom had a chance to tie Scheffler on the last, had not done so. The cheer-groan is a phenomenon unique to golf. Long may it live.

Clark’s birdie putt on 18 was an 18-footer, It was tracking, until it wasn’t. Then the PVB chorus performed the lip-out groan.

“I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in,” Clark said moments later. Note the present tense. Like, given a second chance it would fall.

The putt did spend a nanosecond inspecting the hole and its white upper liner, the current PGA Tour commissioner and his two living predecessors watching earnestly all the while. (The PGA Tour, in this season of iffy starts, finally got the week it needed.) Clark’s ball dipped into the hole at 9 o’clock but lost interest by 12. Clark’s stroke was confident and athletic, but for that putt to go in, it likely needed to knock first at 3 o’clock, with a hair less oomph.

Clark, a runner-up to Scheffler at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, buried his face in his hat.

Golf is a game of quarter-inches. Also (and this is a familiar but necessary refrain!) one where every shot makes somebody happy.

The groan reached Scheffler and Ted Scott, the caddie still, humbly, wearing his caddie bib. There would be no playoff. They embraced. It was quiet and joyous.

Scheffler shot rounds of 67, 69, 68 and 64 playing, at times, through headaches and neck pain, with a vertical strip of black therapeutic tape fastened to the back of his neck. The Sunday 64 is technically eight under par, as TPC Sawgrass (aka the Stadium Course) is technically a par 72. But in reality, with two very reachable par-5s, if not more, this course has become a par 70, in soft, still conditions. This is strange to say, but this former penal colony of a course has become, over the years, and in gentle conditions (dare we say it?). . . charming.

The greens were soft this year for four straight days. The breeze was manageable. The weather was consistent. The players were never pulled off the course (except for darkness on Thursday and Friday). You could get a rhythm going, even if you found yourself sitting in a folding chair and having an intra-round physical therapy sessions, as Scheffler did during his Friday round. Yes, totally permitted, as long as it doesn’t slow play. Scottie Scheffler does things by the book, even if his method is more than a bit unconventional.

Scottie Scheffler looks like a 1950s Ohio State linebacker who found his way to golf. He sounds like a State Farm agent who won the lottery. He expresses himself as someone with balance in is life. He seems normal. Normal!

At his Sunday-night press conference, Scheffler was asked to explain his very being, and this, lightly edited, is what he said:

“Being in this environment today, being in the arena on days like today, is a ton of fun. It doesn’t change me as a person when I go home. Flying home tonight’s going to look pretty similar to what it would if I had finished second this week. Obviously, I have a bit different feelings, it would be tough, but at the end of the day, I have a great support system at home. I have a great wife, great parents, great siblings, and I’m just thankful to be out here playing on Tour.

“If I started taking my trophies and putting them all over the house and walking in acting all big-time, I think my wife would smack me on the side of the head and tell me to get over myself pretty quickly. Winning golf tournaments doesn’t give me any brownie points at home.”

He’s good at golf. Yes, that’s about it. Scottie Scheffler is good at golf, and that really is about it. How refreshing.