Scottie Scheffler, the Arnold Palmer Invitational champion defends, shoots 68 and is ready to shift into survival mode. ‘This place’s brutal and it’s only getting harder as week goes’

Mar, 2023

ORLANDO — Scottie Scheffler believes he has a theory about why he failed to win a tournament in his first two seasons of the PGA Tour.

Scheffler stated Wednesday that he needed to bring the same intensity Thursday and Friday as Saturday and Sunday during his pre-tournament interview.

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Scheffler is a world-beater since that moment. In a nine-week span, Scheffler won four tournaments including the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. The Masters was in April. He has now won his second chance to defend a title. In February, he was the champion of the WM Phoenix Open.

Scheffler brought his intensity to Bay Hill Club & Lodge on Thursday and shot 4-under 68 to open the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Scheffler, 26, is a stroke behind Cameron Young, the PGA Tour’s reigning Arnold Palmer rookie of the year, and Chris Kirk, the Honda Classic champion. Scheffler is happy with his start, despite the high winds expected for Friday making the course more challenging. Justin Ray, stats expert, noted that in 15 years only two other champions have started this tournament with 68 or higher. These were Tiger Woods in 2009, and Matt Every (2015), who went on to win the trophy.

Scheffler stated, “This place’s brutal and it will only get harder as time goes by.”

He called No. 10 a birdie. 8., a par-4 dogleg right on the tricky par-4, was the highlight of his round. He also enjoyed making a pair deuces. He chipped in from 43 feet left of the par-3 second-green and then holing a 39 foot putt at the par-3 17 .

Scheffler stated that there were two bogeys. However, it is a difficult course and it does not take long to make a hole here.

He said that he was able to birdie a few opportunities by staying out of the rough and that the greens were “ridiculously firm” for a Thursday morning.

Scheffler stated, “It’s better to not blow too hard. They may need slow them down or some other thing.” “I don’t really know what they’re going do,” Scheffler said.

Scheffler is a natural on difficult courses. He won Bay Hill last year with a score of 4 under when the tournament became a U.S. Open.

Scheffler said, “I feel like it’s a place that I can just try to hang in there.” “That’s exactly what I did last season. For four days, I wasn’t playing at all impressive. I was asked by one of the guys who played with me this week what I did last year. I simply told them that I had survived. It was exactly what it felt like.

Scheffler, who was ranked second in Official World Golf Ranking at the start of the week, can now return to World No. 1. With a win (so long as Jon Rahm, the current top dog in the Official World Golf Ranking, finishes worse than a tie for second), or possibly as low as a tie for second (so long as Rahm finishes worse that 25 th and Rory McIlroy don’t win).

Kirk, 37, won the Tour’s first major in almost eight years. He woke up at 5:30 a.m. and started with a bogey at No. 10 but he recovered with seven birdies on his way to posting 67.

He said that he felt “a bit like a zombie” this morning but couldn’t take away the joy of playing the event each year.

Young, 25, was able to chip in for eagle at 12 the par-5 12 to match Kirk’s 67. Young, a Wake Forest graduate, was looking for his first Tour title. He was happy with his start, even though he didn’t have his ‘A’ game.

He said, “I think that I was really happy about the way I put together a round today.” “Anytime you break par here, you’re doing OK.” He said.

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