Another Scheffler Showdown

By June 24, 2024No Comments

Scheffler beats Kim in playoff to win PGA Tour’s Travelers

CROMWELL, Conn. — Scottie Scheffler had to wait out a climate protest on the 18th green and Tom Kim’s tying birdie on the last hole of regulation.

Those events only delayed what seems to be inevitable on the PGA Tour this season: the best golfer in the world walking off with the trophy.

Shrugging off a protest that interrupted the tournament on the 72nd hole while the leaders were lining up their putts, Scheffler won the Travelers Championship on the first hole of sudden death Sunday for his sixth win of the year, the most in one season on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods had six in 2009 and the most before July since Arnold Palmer won six (two each in February, April and May) in 1962.

“When something like that happens, you don’t really know what’s happening, so it can kind of rattle you a little bit,” Scheffler said of the protest.

“That can be a stressful situation, and you would hate for the tournament to end on something weird happening because of a situation like that,” he said. “Tom and I both tried to calm each other down so we could give it our best shot there on 18.”

Scheffler closed with a 5-under 65 and a 22-under 258 total at the TPC River Highlands, and Kim matched him with a final-round 66.

Tom Hoge and Sungjae Im tied for third, 2 shots back, with Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas and Akshay Bhatia tied for fifth at 18 under. Bhatia was also in the final group that was disrupted by the protest.

It was Scheffler’s fourth victory of the year in the tour’s $20 million, limited-field signature events, earning him a payday of $3.6 million. He also won the Masters and the Players Championship.

And Scheffler still has two months to go.

“As much as I love him, I would have loved to take that away from him,” said Kim, who shares a birthday and a friendship with Scheffler. “But I’m happy for him, and after I tapped out, after he tapped out, he said some really nice words and it meant a lot to me.”

Scheffler had a 1-stroke lead heading to the 18th green on Sunday when six people stormed the course, waving smoke bombs that left a red and white powdery residue on the putting surface. Some wore white T-shirts with the words “NO GOLF ON A DEAD PLANET” in black lettering.

After a delay of about five minutes, when tournament officials used towels and blowers to remove the powder and any other marks that might affect play, Scheffler left a 26-foot putt from the fringe on the edge of the cup and tapped in for par.

Kim then made a 10-foot birdie putt for a 66 to match Scheffler.

“Obviously it is a disruption and you don’t want it to happen, but for me it just kind of slowed things down,” Kim said. “It took the meaning of the putt away for a second. Because for the past 17½ holes all you’re thinking about is golf, and suddenly when that happens your mind goes into a complete — like, you’re almost not even playing golf anymore. I thought it was a dream for a second.”

The hole location on the 18th was moved for the playoff to avoid the parts of the green affected by the protesters.

Scheffler hit his approach in the playoff to 11 feet while Kim found a greenside bunker. Kim’s blast from a plugged lie ran 36 feet past the hole, leaving Scheffler with an easy two-putt par for the victory. Afterward, his wife, Meredith, met him on the green, carrying their 6-week-old son, Bennett.

“It’s fun competing against your friends,” Scheffler said. “But at the same time, it’s difficult. Because part of me wants him to miss the putt and part of me wants him to make the putt. … But he should remember that putt he made on 18, because it was pretty special. And he’s a great player and a great champion.”

Coming off a tie for 41st in the U.S. Open — by far his worst finish of the year — Scheffler trailed Kim by 3 strokes after the first round, by 2 after the second and by 1 heading to the tee Sunday.

Scheffler took a 1-shot lead over Kim with three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15 — he had putts for eagle on two of them. While Hoge signed for a 62 to finish at 20 under, and Im joined him there, Scheffler and Kim matched pars over the next two holes to set up the surprising finish.

Scheffler and Kim share a June 21 birthday — Scheffler is 6 years older — and they celebrated with renowned New Haven pizza before the tournament. The Dallas-area residents played together in the final group Sunday, chatting and joking around.

But only one of them could hold the trophy at the end.

And just like it has been so often, it was Scheffler, who became the first player to have his birthday during a tour event and go on to win since Xander Schauffele at the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions.

Kim said being in a pack of leaders with his birthday buddy allowed him to focus on his own game.

“You don’t need to worry about him, because he’s going to play well,” Kim said. “Obviously he’s a phenomenal player, world No. 1, all those titles. But at the same time for me he’s just Scottie Scheffler, he’s just a good friend.

“To come down with someone that I play a lot of golf with, who beats me a lot at home — and, unfortunately, he beat me in the playoff too. But it definitely made it a lot more enjoyable out there.”

Source: ESPN