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Scottie Scheffler’s dominance is forcing Max Homa, Wyndham Clark to get better. But can they close the gap?

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – In the lead up to the 88th Masters last week, ESPN commentators were asked how they thought Scottie Scheffler would do if he putted adequately. When host Scott Van Pelt weighed in on the chances of the world No. 1, he didn’t hesitate to say that Scheffler should be the pick.

“There’s a reason why his odds are in Tiger territory. They’re as low as anyone’s we’ve seen since Tiger. That’s because the answer to your question, if he putts adequately, he wins,” Van Pelt said. “Sometimes you don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to squint so hard to see the answer. It’s just a big bold type in front of your face, Scottie Scheffler. Scottie Scheffler is going to play well at Augusta, the end. When he does on Sunday and he’s right there with a chance, you’ll go, of course. If he putts well, then he’ll win. It’s really that simple, isn’t it?”

Two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North seconded the notion as only he can. “It’s like that hot doughnut sign about 1 in the morning,” he added.

“We all know that one,” Van Pelt said.

Scheffler, 27, may be at the start of a historic run. He shot a final-round 68 at Augusta National to win the green jacket for the second time, and claimed his third victory in his last four starts.

“He’s just been annoying everyone for the last three months, hasn’t he?” Matt Fitzpatrick, the 2022 U.S. Open champion, said.

Max Homa, who finished tied for third at the Masters, called Scheffler, “one of the best players I think we’ll ever see.”

The predominant belief among the players is that the gap between Scheffler and everyone may not be the size of the Grand Canyon but it’s wider than Rae’s Creek.

Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion, has run into the Scheffler buzzsaw on multiple occasions this season, finishing second to him at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship. (Clark missed the cut at his first Masters.)

“The thing that I really am impressed by him is just the consistency that he’s always in contention, and either he wins or he finishes kind of top 5. I do think there’s a little gap right now, and I’m hoping as I progress as a player mentally and physically and everything that maybe by the end of the year or sometime next year maybe I’ve closed that gap a little bit,” he said.

Clark is motivated to get better for future battles and is confident his best is good enough to beat Scheffler even when’s he’s playing well. But the pursuit of better is what drives him.

Wyndham Clark walks off the No. 2 green during the first round of the 2024 Masters Tournament. (Photo: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Network)

“It just brings the overall quality of play up significantly when someone is playing that good all the time. I think everyone looks at themselves in the mirror and goes, what do I need to get better at because you feel like you’re playing good golf and you’re not beating him,” Clark said. “I think it would be great if we could have multiple guys that are kind of battling it out all the time. I don’t know if that’s me or could be someone else, but I would love for it to be me, and I’m working as hard as I can to be that person.”

Homa played alongside Scheffler last year at the U.S. Open in Los Angeles and came away starstruck by Scheffler’s brilliance.

“I just kept thinking to myself, man, must be nice, that’s just incredible, and then he’s done it for a year. Those are like great weeks that you like harken back to. He does this every week,” Homa said. “It’s definitely unique what he’s doing.”

Homa was asked if he found trying to catch Scheffler to be more daunting or challenging?

Max Homa and Scottie Scheffler walk up the seventh hole during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. (Photo: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)

“More challenging, I would say. I think it’s inspiring. It makes you look at your game even more closely to figure out what you would do to get on his level,” Homa said. “I think because of the Tiger era when he was just running through golf tournament after golf tournament and just annihilating everybody, it was probably more daunting because we had never seen anything like that.”

Scheffler, for one, expressed concern that playing at Harbour Town Golf Links this week could be more challenging for him than the Masters as he battles fatigue, but he never considered withdrawing and staying home in Dallas with wife Meredith, who is awaiting the birth of their first child later this month.

“I think playing in contention at majors and especially winning takes a lot out of you. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on after the Masters on Sunday, and you get home very late, and emotionally I think I’m a bit drained,” Scheffler said.

But if the remaining 68 players in the field think this means that he’s grown complacent, think again. Scheffler made it clear he’s going to rest up and recover and aiming to bring home his fourth title in his last five starts.

“I’m not showing up here just to walk around and play a little golf,” he said. “I left my pregnant wife at home to come here and play in a golf tournament. I am here to play and hopefully play well. I’m not here just for fun.”

The birth of the Scheffler’s first child may be the only thing that can slow him down. Homa, for one, was asked if he’d be in favor of a mandatory three-month paternity leave?

“No, I want to beat his ass pretty bad at some point,” he said. “I’d be lying if I wasn’t thinking a little bit about last week if Meredith did go into labor. The beauty of this is you want to beat the best when they’re at their best.”

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