World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is hitting the golf ball as well as it has been hit this century. It's just that no one is paying attention -- largely because he doesn't have the right amount of wins (or the appropriate trophies) to show off.

This is the byproduct of a sports culture obsessed with one achievement above all else: championships. That infatuation belies the truth when it comes to Scheffler, which is that few golfers over the last 20 years -- perhaps only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy -- have ever flown this close to the center of the ball-striking sun.

The numbers will stagger even the most open-minded statistical golf nut.

  • Scheffler is gaining 3.15 strokes per round from tee to green since Jan. 1. Patrick Cantlay is next closest at 2.10. Scheffler has been one stroke per round, four per tournament, better than second-best in the same category.
  • Scheffler ranks third around the greens among those with more than 20 measured rounds, first in approach, first off the tee, first in ball-striking, first from tee to green and first in overall strokes gained, all since Jan. 1.
  • Scheffler at the Memorial posted one of the great tee-to-green performances in history. He gained nearly 21 strokes, more than nine better than Si Woo Kim, who was second with just under 12.
  • Scheffler has finished first or second in tee-to-green play in seven of his last eight professional events. 

The problem for him -- and perhaps this is obvious -- is that he's just not making any putts. As wild as the ball-striking is on one end of the spectrum, the putting is just as jaw dropping on the other. Scheffler has been worse than field average in five of his last six tournaments; he's failed to gain more than two strokes on the field with his putter since February.

It's not as if Scheffler has failed to win. He took the Phoenix Open for the second consecutive year and relegated Players Championship Sunday to, "Well, I guess if you don't have anything else to do, you should flip it on" status. It's just that when you're hitting it like Ben Hogan, you're not ever supposed to lose.

To say he's hitting it like Hogan is perhaps an exaggeration because we have no data behind how Hogan hit it. There's another guy who was pretty successful, though, who we can use to contextualize Scheffler's play.

Only Tiger (once!) has bested Scottie's current effort since 2004. (Woods' 2008 season did not meet the minimum criteria.) Look at these stats from Data Golf:

RankGolfer (Year)SG:T2GSG:Putting


Tiger Woods (2006)




Scottie Scheffler (2023)




Tiger Woods (2007)




Rory McIlroy (2012)




Vijay Singh (2004)



Despite no waterfall of wins, Scheffler's consistency has been extraordinary. Since finishing T45 at the CJ Cup last October, he has gone on a preposterous streak in which he has finished inside the top 12 in 16 consecutive global events. That includes everything: majors, small fields, massive fields, match play and stroke play.

His run seemed in jeopardy at the Memorial two weeks ago. Scheffler made the cut on the number and said he, for the first time in a while, did not enjoy waking up early on Saturday morning for his third round. Even then, the streak endured. Even then, he nearly won, shooting 68-67 over the final two days to finish one stroke out of a playoff.

Most golfers struggle with an inability to out-putt their bad ball-striking, meaning they can't make up for poor tee-to-green shots with a hot flat stick in a manner that puts them in contention. Scheffler seems to be experiencing the exact opposite. He's out-striking his poor putting and placing himself in the mix nearly every time out despite the cup looking like the size of a dime.

As colleague Rick Gehman pointed out recently, this entire narrative has seemingly taken up residence in Scheffler's head. HIs talk of the hole looking tiny has been code in the world of golf for I don't believe I can make anything right now three times as long as the 25-year-old has been alive.

The numbers all around are abysmal. He's outside the top 100 on the PGA Tour putting from 8 feet, 9 feet, 10 feet, inside 10 feet, 10-15 feet, 15-20 feet and 20-25 feet. He's avoiding three putts (fifth on Tour), but nothing is falling. He's not scoring even though his ball-striking is giving him a better opportunity than anyone in the world.

Scheffler said  Tuesday he's trying to put the whole thing out of his mind.

"I try and focus on it as little as possible," said Scheffler when asked what he considers when trying to get hot with the putter. "When you're out there competing, when you're doing your best you're kind of just flowing and letting things happen. Putting is different because it's one of those things that has finality attached to it; whereas, if I hit a really good 6-iron, sometimes it's going to go to 2 feet and sometimes it's going to go to 15 feet. 

"It's like, 'Oh, well to you it doesn't make a huge difference. If I hit a 6-footer and I hit a really good putt and one time it goes in and then one time it doesn't, everyone is like, 'Oh, why did he miss that putt?' It's like,'Well, actually, I hit a really good putt and there's a heel print, there's something.' Putting is such like an art that I try not to add too much finality to what I'm doing on the greens."

All of this begs an obvious question ahead of the final two majors of the year: What will we see from Scheffler over the remainder of the season? There are three options:

  1. His ball-striking reenters the atmosphere. It won't necessarily matter what happens with his putter because he would no longer be living at that place multiple standard deviations from the median where the greatest winners seem to live for long periods. Scheffler has never been an elite putter, and it's unlikely that he would become one if/when his ball-striking declines.
  2. His ball-striking stays the same and so does his putting. We would likely get a lot of the same from him: automatic top 10s and the occasional win. A terrific outcome for almost anyone but perhaps a frustrating one for somebody who lives on the same tee-to-green boulevard as Woods.
  3. His putts start falling. This is the scary one. What if ... what if Scheffler starts making a few? What if he starts running downhill a bit and seeing them drop? What if the ball-striking remains, and he starts pouring it in from all over the green?

In 2006, Woods (like Scheffler) won just two events early in the season. Like Scheffler, he finished in the top 10 at the Masters. Like Scheffler, he gained over 3.0 strokes per round (an outrageous, unfathomable number!) on fields from tee to green over the season. It was an incredible year for the most incredible player of all time. What happened to Tiger later that summer, though, was historic.

In his final six events of 2006, after a really strong start to the year, Tiger ... won them all.

  • Open Championship: -18
  • Buick Open: -24
  • PGA Championship: -18
  • Bridgestone Invitational: -10
  • Deutsche Bank Championship: -16
  • American Express Championship: -23

Woods shot in the 70s across just three rounds over that 24-round stretch. In a career full of remarkable windows, it might be the most astounding of them all. And while data is more incomplete then compared to now, it's clear that Woods, too, struggled with his putter early in 2006 -- at one point losing strokes in three of four events. By the end of the year, though, he'd figured it out and the avalanche started.

While this unlikely to be what happens with Scheffler, it's not out of the realm of possibility. That's the territory in which his tee-to-green game exists right now.

Is it unfathomable to think Scheffler could add a U.S. Open, Open Championship, BMW Championship and Tour Championship to his collection over the next few months? In theory, yes. On paper, though? Not really.

Seasons like this do not come along often. They are as rare as they are impressive. And when they do come along, you want to see a little history made. A Players, two majors and six wins would qualify as a little history. It seems crazy right now ahead of the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, but the reality is that it's actually not.