2023 Hero World Challenge leaderboard, grades: Scottie Scheffler closes year strong with win in Bahamas
Scheffler picked up his third PGA Tour victory of the season as we turn our attention to 2024
Scottie Scheffler closed out an extraordinary year with something that eluded him more than one would have expected based on the numbers he put up throughout 2023: a victory. Scheffler won the Hero World Challenge on Sunday in the Bahamas with a 4-under 68 to get to 20 under and beat Sepp Straka by three and Justin Thomas by four. The win marks Scheffler's third victory of the season after triumphs at the Phoenix Open and Players Championship.
Three wins is a lot, especially so at those particular events. But three wins doesn't tell the full story of how good Scottie Scheffler was in 2023, out-gaining the second-best player from tee to green (Patrick Cantlay) by a full shot per round throughout the year. That's a nearly inexplicable number, but his victory total was held back because of a sometimes cold putter that worked the way he needed it to this week. Scheffler finished sixth in the 20-player field in putting, and that helped him cruise to a clean card on Sunday in which he made four birdies, no bogeys and won with relative ease.
"I just tried to come out and make good swings like I did all week," Scheffler told Golf Channel. "I tried not to overthink things. I played solid golf today. No bogeys, so I felt like when I need to make some birdies on the back nine I was able to do so. I played solid today and kept my distance from the rest of the guys."
Statistically, Scheffler kept his distance from the rest of the guys all year. And while I'm not sure we'll be able to determine that solely from his win total, this at least boosts what was true for all of 2023: Scottie Scheffler was the best player in the world this year. A Hero World Challenge victory certainly is not proof of that, but this week's showing was a good reminder. And if the changes he made to his putting -- including adjustments in coaching and putter style -- stick around, there could be a windfall of victories in events much bigger than the Hero World Challenge. Grade: A+
T3. Justin Thomas (-16): A strange year for Thomas ends on a nice note as he played well throughout the week. Even after a tough start alongside Tiger Woods on Thursday when he tripled the fourth hole, he rebounded nicely, only made four bogeys over the next 68 holes, led the field in approach play and capped his fall with a third consecutive top-five finish. Grade: A
7. Collin Morikawa (-12): I'm not sure how notable it is that Morikawa finished in the middle of the pack in a non-PGA Tour event at the beginning of December other than the fact that he's been struggling with back issues and said recently he had to re-learn how to sit down (which sounds wild). It was good to see him able to complete 72 holes, and if he had not made two doubles on Saturday in the third round, he may have even played his way into a bit of contention on Sunday. Grade: B-
20. Will Zalatoris (+11): While this week was less about Zalatoris' performance and more about his health (which seems good!), he was fairly abysmal from a performance standpoint. Strangely, Zalatoris shot just one round between 68 and 79, and it came on Sunday when he posted a very normal 71. His broomstick putter experiment was a bit of a disaster as he lost strokes to the field on three of the days (including nearly six on Thursday!) and finished last in that category. That doesn't mean he should go away from it. In fact, I think he should stay with it. But for its first outing, it was probably not what he thought it would be. Regardless, it was great to have him back in the mix after a long layoff following back surgery earlier in 2023. Grade: D
How will Tiger finish?
After back to back birdies, Tiger gives one back at the 16th to fall to even par. He remains in 18th place, ahead of Wyndham Clark and Will Zalatoris. Still, getting it under par over these next two holes would be pretty awesome.
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