AUGUSTA, Ga. — After finishing up his practice round Tuesday, Scottie Scheffler packed up his things, and as he was leaving the players’ locker room, he noticed what was happening around him: Augusta was setting up for Tuesday night’s annual Champions Dinner. His Champions Dinner.
“The weight of everything hit me,” Scheffler said. “I was like, ‘Oh boy, here it comes.'”
Scheffler doesn’t know why, but emotions usually get the better of him. He famously told the media after his Masters win last year that he cried the morning of the final round. Twelve months later, Scheffler admitted that he’ll probably get emotional again at a dinner that will feature some of the game’s best players.
“I still can’t believe I’ll be sitting in that room,” Scheffler said.
Sitting alongside him will be a select group of three that Scheffler will try to join this year should he accomplish what only Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods have done and win this tournament in back-to-back years.
The feat may be rare, but given how Scheffler has played this season — he has won twice and finished inside the top five seven times — there’s no doubt he’s the favorite coming into the tournament.
Scheffler has responded accordingly. He and his family traveled to Augusta after the players to get in some practice at the course and he also got in earlier than he has in the past this week in order to play 18 holes on Sunday.
“I think it’s a bit different,” Scheffler said of returning to Augusta as a winner. “I think, like, when you see the list of guys when they get in the tournament and how they qualify and you see ‘Lifetime Exemption’ by your name, I think it is really cool.”
Still, as Scheffler pointed out, the win doesn’t grant him anything special in his quest to win again.
“I’ve kept things pretty similar to what they were last year, outside of getting here a few hours earlier on Sunday so I could play more golf,” Scheffler said. “Just because you’re defending doesn’t mean I get to start at 1-under.”
The lifetime exemption designation may be the only thing that has changed for Scheffler since he put on the green jacket, which he admitted he once took on a commercial airplane. Scheffer still lives in the same house, drives the same Yukon XL with nearly 190,000 miles on it and can only think of one thing he has splurged on.
“I bought a cold tub. That was a pretty big indulgence,” Scheffler said. “Still not running at home but we bought it.”
The 26-year-old did say he and his wife, Meredith, have a tradition of buying a nice tequila after each win. And while they’re certainly hoping to buy another this week as Scheffler readies himself to try to further implant himself in Augusta lore, Scheffler once again reminded those who were on hand that legacy isn’t what drives him.
“It’s so special and cool when it happens, but it doesn’t motivate me out here. I’m just trying to come out here and do my best and play good golf and have fun,” Scheffler said. “Legacy is just a complicated thing. In a hundred years I’m going to be forgotten and it’s not a big deal.”
While it’s that exact attitude that seems to free Scheffler up to excel on the golf course, if he keeps this up and wins in Augusta again, he might be wrong about that.