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April 9, 2024

Scottie Scheffler

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We're pleased to have the 2022 Masters champion, Scottie Scheffler, in the interview room this afternoon.

Scottie, welcome back to Augusta National. It's been two years since you won the Masters. What did you learn about yourself that week, and how has it helped shape your preparation for this year's tournament?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: I think in terms of preparation, I think I valued much more rest going into these types of weeks. I think when I first came out in my career, I didn't really value rest as much as I should have. I was a really big practicer, and I would say I probably practiced too much at tournaments. So trying to work on getting quality rest and being ready to compete.

And then what I learned about myself, I mean, I'm not really sure (smiling). I just think that it was a good experience. It was obviously a ton of fun to be able to win here, and it's still -- sometimes I still can't believe it myself walking in the Champions locker room. But excited to be back here to compete another year.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. With that, we'll open it up for questions.

Q. Last night I was able to see a documentary on Carl Jackson, and I think you're in it and I think you made a mention about he gave you a yardage book. And I'm wondering if you could expound on a little bit and how valuable that was?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Well, I'm not going to expand too much on Carl's secrets in front of people, but (laughing)...

No, it was maybe my second Masters, it was either my second or third. I sat kind of in the back of the caddie house with Carl. Ben had suggested that I just sit down with him for a few minutes. And, yeah, he gave me a yardage book that had some of the -- where he -- I think he called it grain is, where some of the slopes are. And it's just a yardage book that has some arrows in it. I'm not going to tell you where the arrows are pointing.

But it's something that I'll kind of review at night and I always look at it in the lead-up to the tournament just because there is kind of some weird stuff that goes on around the golf course.

But it was nice just being able to sit with him and hear his thoughts about this place. And, I mean, he's such a peaceful guy. So it was really nice just kind of listening to him talk about the golf course.

Q. This is obviously your fifth time here. It's probably become routine, normal, at least it's been normalized a little bit. Are there still things here that, like, when you see them, about the course or the facility or anything that delight you, bring you joy, and what are those things?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: That things that delight me?

Q. About being here.

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Well, playing the golf course I think is a tremendous amount of fun. The driving range here is a ton of fun to be around and practice. You can hit all kinds of shots. To me it's just a special place, it's kind of the mecca for us growing up here in the States and being Americans. I think this is the tournament that we all look for.

To be here on property every year is extremely special. And, I mean, it seems like it all stands out. Everything is done so well here. But mostly for me it's the golf course and the practice facilities and just getting to come out here and compete. And, I mean, the crowds always are wonderful, and it's just a joy to play this tournament.

Q. So much of the talk here at the Masters is about nerves and anxiousness, but I'm specifically curious for you if you have any nervousness for Rahm's menu at the Champions Dinner?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: I haven't really looked too closely at it. I'm kind of somebody that likes to stay out of the way of things, and so I don't really see a lot of stuff that has to do with golf, so I've been -- I'm a little bit out of the loop on that kind of stuff. So I'm looking forward to the surprise tonight.

Q. Can you describe the challenges of playing this course every year and sustaining success from year to year?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Yeah, I think people may not realize how difficult the golf course is, especially when the wind is blowing. And I think we're going to have another couple days of wind here where the winds are going to be pretty high and it swirls like crazy around this place.

And you have to stay so patient and trust in all aspects of your game because there is a certain type of player that can play well on this golf course, but at the end of the day you have to have trust in all aspects of your game. And I think this is a place where it's extremely important to kind of have that trust in yourself.

Q. Jordan was in here, and he was obviously the guy in 2015. Tiger was in here earlier today, he was the guy for many, many years. You spoke about this a little bit at THE PLAYERS, how you really have to watch out every little thing that you say. Are you getting more comfortable in that role of being the guy, and how long do you sort of feel like this could last?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: I try not to look too far into the future. I'm excited about how I've been playing to begin this year. I had two nice wins, which was obviously a bunch of fun. Then I was close in my last start as well.

I think it's just one of those deals where all I'm trying to do is put myself in contention in the tournament and hopefully finish it off. I really am not looking much past tomorrow. I'm focused on my preparation right now. And those things don't really occupy many of my thoughts day-to-day.

I'm an extremely competitive person. And I like competing out here, and hopefully I'll be out here competing for a long, long time, but life throws crazy stuff at you sometimes. So we'll see how long it happens, but hoping it's going to be a long time.

Q. When you're on the range using that molded grip and you got your practice station sort of all set up, I'm wondering what exactly are you doing there, and why is that such an important part of your kind of pretournament prep?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Really just checking my fundamentals. I feel like when my swing gets off, it's usually something that's very basic about what I'm doing. And so I have my grip club because I'm checking my grip. I have the alignment sticks down because I want my alignment to be good. And then also helps me with my ball position. Then usually either Randy or Teddy is back there making sure I'm taking the club back on line.

And I'm just working on my form and hitting shots. It's pretty much my normal practice routine. That's exactly how I practice at home. So when you come to a tournament, it's just more of the same.

Q. And how long does that kind of pocket of time take? Do you reserve 15 minutes or whatever during your range session to do that, or does it does not work like that?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: I don't have a ton of structure. It's usually just making sure that I have the right feels. And I try not to spend more than an hour out there. I mean, an hour is probably -- at a tournament would be a typical amount of time for me to be on the range a day. If it's a lot longer than that, you can come pull me off at any point, probably won't be good for me.

But I'm in the school of thought that by the time you show up to a tournament, you pretty much have what you're going to have. And if I'm out there searching tomorrow afternoon for my swing, odds are I'm not going to find it. Or if I could find it, it was probably already in there. You're not really going to be making too many huge changes Monday to Wednesday of a major championship.

Q. I was talking to your dad a little bit yesterday by the tree, and it's a little bit weird, but he was kind of saying, as we were peppering him with golf questions, I'm just so glad Scottie's a good person's; that's kind of what I really wanted out of our relationship. And I'm kind of curious if you could share like what lessons did he sort of impart when you were a kid to make sure that you weren't, you know, a jerk, that you weren't dismissive of people. I think that's a pretty fair assessment of how you treat people.

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Well, I think, you know, my dad -- the way I was raised, my dad stayed home with us. My mom worked. And my dad never really looked at me as a golfer. He never pushed me to become a good golfer. That was never what he wanted for me. My parents pushed more education and being kind to people on me.

So I think playing junior golf, I think sometimes you see a lot of parents who really want their kid to become really, really good at something, and they think that's what's going to bring them joy. But becoming a really good golfer may bring you a little bit of momentary joy, but it doesn't sustain it for very long. Winning a tournament makes me happy for about five minutes, and then you got to did a bunch of other things that are a little bit more difficult than winning the tournament.

So the way I was raised, golf wasn't really a huge deal in my house. It was just something that I always loved to do. I had a very supportive family in doing so. I have three sisters, and I'm sure they went to way more golf tournaments than they would have hoped to when I was growing up.

But just had a great support system at home. And I feel like I've said it a bunch, golf is not just -- it's something that I do. It's not my life, you know.

Q. Can you take the common fan or average golfer into your mindset of what it's like to step on that first tee on Thursday and take that first tee shot. Is it a little angst, a little nervousness, or is it you're confident because you've been here and done it before?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: So, when I step up onto the tee at a tournament, my thought process is always about my preparation. So, when I step up on the first tee, I just remind myself: I've done the work. I've done everything I could. I've checked all the boxes. And I've done everything to where I can go out here and play well. So I can go out and compete freely knowing that I've done what I'm supposed to do in my preparation.

And then when it comes time to compete, I'm just trying to soak in the competition. Go out there, have fun, be committed to my shots. And I'm focused mostly on my mental attitude. I'm not looking at results. I'm just trying to focus as much of my process as I can.

And, yeah, there's definitely nervousness. There's definitely excitement, anxiousness. I mean, all those things go through you when you're out there competing. It's just about how do you use those feelings and emotions to kind of enhance your focus, and that's pretty much it.

Q. That tunnel vision you're talking about, staying in the present, are you born with that? Is a player born with that, or does one develop that?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: I don't really know. I think it's something that I have developed a little bit over time. I think I'm significantly better at it now than I was when I was 15 years old. But I think that's just part of maturing as a person. So maybe you're born with a little bit of it, but I think you have to train yourself to do that over time as well.

Q. Can you describe the feeling you get whenever you get back on site and reunite with your jacket?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: When I put back on the jacket? Yeah, it's usually first thing we do here Sunday when I get in. We go -- I'm usually doing something for the Drive, Chip & Putt, so it's always a reason to go out there and put on the jacket. It's kind of fun walking around the grounds and being able to put it on.

It was a lot more fun getting to wear it for a whole year (laughing). But, yeah, it's a special feeling. It's extremely cool to be able to walk up there in the Champions locker room, and got the same locker room staff up there, and they're always excited to see us. And I'm excited to see them as well, and it's a lot of fun.

Q. A lot of No. 1 players in the world have admitted that they have had to be selfish with their time, they have had to work very hard because they were just about compulsive to stay on top. How would you say golf -- where does it fit in defining you as a person right now?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Hopefully it doesn't define me too much because golf definitely is a selfish sport. You're out there by yourself. And when you're at the peak of your game, you know, people need stuff from you a lot of the time and you have to be selfish with your time. And it's not easy to say no, but you have to learn how to say no to certain people.

Because ultimately, when you come out to a golf tournament, you're here to compete, and you're here to do your best. And you can't really get caught up in all the stuff that's going on around you.

So I'm hoping it doesn't define me too much. Because, I feel like I say it a bunch, golf's something that I do. It's a tremendously huge part of my life. But it doesn't define me as a person. It's just something that I do.

And I happen to be good at it some weeks, and, you know, I come in here and you guys ask all nice questions. And then the next week I'm bad at it, and then some of the questions are viewed more negatively. And that's just kind of the ebb and flow of competing in front of people all the time.

Q. What do you think defines you?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Gosh, you'll probably have to ask my wife (laughing). No, I'm a faithful guy. I believe in a creator. I believe in Jesus. Ultimately, I think that's what defines me the most.

Yeah, I feel like I've been given a platform to compete and, you know, show my talent. It's not anything that I did. I think I sat up here a couple years ago doing the interview after the 2022 Masters, and it's like, yeah, I was underprepared for what was about to happen. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't -- I was very anxious that morning. I didn't know what to expect.

And it's hard to describe the feeling, but I think that's what defines me the most is my faith. I believe in one creator, that I've been called to come out here, do my best, compete and glorify God, and that's pretty much it.

Q. You played a practice round today with Nick Dunlap. Did you share any advice with him or any conversation? What was that like?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Nick, no, he's too good. I don't want to give him any of my secrets. (Smiling.) No, Sam and I seem to play a lot of practice rounds with Nick. He's a guy that he asks a lot of really good questions. And he's in a difficult spot where he should be in college right now. He should be going to class and instead he's playing in the Masters. And so it's pretty interesting spot for him to be in in his life. He asks us a lot of questions, and I try to give him the best answers that I can.

Yeah, I feel like when I first came out, there was a lot of older guys that gave me really good advice. And I'm just trying to kind of pay it forward to the next group of guys. It's kind of weird being -- I think I'm seven years older than Nick, which is pretty wild. I still feel like the young guy out here, and I'm kind of trending now towards the older end of the spectrum now, which is really weird.

Q. I think it's probably safe to say that you seem pretty nonplussed out there on the golf course, unaffected, or at least outwardly by what seems to be going on. What's the most nervous you've ever been on a golf course, and how would we know?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: The most nervous I think I've ever been on a golf course was probably when I went through qualifying school. Going into the last few stages -- so for qualifying school you go through first, second, third stage. And first and second stage I needed a good round the last day to get through. And I ended up having two really good rounds, maybe shot 7 or 8-under in the first stage and something similar at second stage.

Going into the last round at final stage, I was well inside the number, and I just needed to not play bad to get through. And that's kind of a weird spot to be, especially when you're playing for your career, essentially, you're playing for that whole next year, and it's important to be able to get through that qualifying school.

I did not play well for 16 holes, and I was maybe like even par, and I'm just getting lapped out there. It was a pretty easy golf course. And I'm looking up at the board, and I'm like, Man, I got to birdie one of these last two holes. And I birdied the 17th hole. It was a reachable par-5. Had a nice up-and-down, made a good 4 or 5-footer.

Hit the fairway on 18. Kind of settled down. I got a wedge, a middle pin, stock number, slight upslope, not a hard shot. Shot I'd hit the green 95 times out of 100 if that's what I'm trying to do.

I hit one of the worse wedge shots I've ever hit in my life, long left of the green. My stock number usually goes about 130, I hit it 150. And I'm standing there looking at this chip shot I have, and instead of just being able to hit the green and 2-putt, all of a sudden I'm long of the green, I have this really hard chip off a down slope, down towards the green. The green's on a down slope, it's a fast chip, and I'm standing over it.

And that was probably the most nervous I've ever been. I did my best to calm down, and I hit a good chip and got up-and-down. But that to me was the most nervous I'd been, just because you're just kind of getting into your career and you're playing for a whole year worth of tournaments. And if I don't get that ball up-and-down, I got to go back to playing the mini tours, essentially.

Q. This is such a unique property, and you only get to play it once a year. What are one or two of the cooler shots that you look forward to when you pull in here?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: I think the back nine is especially fun. You come off 9 tee, and then you get to -- or, sorry, come off 9 green and you get to 10 tee and all of a sudden you're hitting a massive -- basically a hook off the tee. It's not really a draw. I hit a hook there.

Then you go to play 11 and you're hitting that second shot down the hill, and then you get to 12. And I think you just dream so much of being able to play this golf course that when you got out there and you start hitting all the shots, it challenges you in so many different ways. You're hitting off these crazy slopes to greens that have a ton of pitch to 'em. And you get to really be creative out here, and so there's all kinds of fun shots. But I think really, once you get into the kind of the heart of the back nine, those are the most fun holes out here, I think.

Q. Your golf swing has been the subject of a lot of discussion. Slow-motion video, zooming in on your feet. What do you think the most misunderstood part of your golf swing is?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Misunderstood? Not really sure. I think when I first came out on TOUR, I think my footwork was kind of how I was known to people. I think a lot of people maybe viewed it as not that good of a trait in my golf swing. I think some people may have said that it would be hard for me to be consistent, hard for me to play under pressure with that much action going on in my swing.

But I've had the same coach since I was seven years old, and he's taught me for 20 years now how to swing a golf club. And he hadn't wanted to change it yet, so I don't think we're going to change it anytime soon.

But maybe misunderstood is -- maybe people think I don't think about my fundamentals very much, which I do. It's a big part of my practice, and it's usually what I do at the beginning of my practice each day is focus on my fundamentals. So maybe that would be the most misunderstood part.

Q. What's the best lesson Randy's given you?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Oh, golly. There was a time for me when I was growing up where I grew very fast and I went from being a really good ball-striker to a really bad ball-striker, and Randy for years kept telling me just to stay patient, stay patient, this is just a phase. And he never once was like, let's break it down and start over. He has helped me stay patient for a number of years.

So I think I'm one of those people that expects results really fast. I expect the most out of myself almost every time I go out to play golf. And if things aren't going the way I intend them to be, I tend to be fairly hard on myself. And Randy over the years has been extremely good at helping me stay patient and stick to the process.

And, now, I remember being 15, 16 years old and not winning as many times as I felt like I should, and Randy would always say, It's not about who is the best when you're 14 years old, it's about who can be the best when you're 25 years old. And he's like, It's a long journey. He did a good job of keeping me patient for a number of years when I wasn't performing as well as I felt like should have.

Q. When you talk about golf is just something you do, what do you think you would be good at if you didn't have golf or any other sport, frankly?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: What do I think I would be good at?

Q. Like pickleball doesn't count here.

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Pickleball doesn't count? Gosh, I don't know. My friends have asked me that before, what would you do if you weren't playing golf. And golf was always the goal for me. I always wanted to play golf. I grew up wearing long pants to go practice at the golf course because that's what I saw the pros doing on TV and I wanted to be one of those professional golfers.

I would like to think I have some other skills, but hopefully I don't have to discover them for quite some time. Hopefully, I'll be out here playing for a long time.

Q. Stewart Hagestad spoke glowingly yesterday about your golfing IQ, and a player like Paul McGinley says your course management skills are off the charts. I'm just wondering, is that something that comes naturally to you or is it something that you work hard on and maybe could you talk a little bit about how you break down a course like this and go about attacking it?

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Yeah, I think Teddy's a huge part of that. Teddy does a lot of our prep work and a lot of what I'm doing in the practice round is playing the course how I normally would, just playing the holes. Then when we get up to the green, I finish out, it's basically just asking Teddy, What do you want to do here, and then he kind of brings me around the hole and shows me the spots where I need to practice from, the putts that he wants to see me hit, and he's looking at all kinds of stats and stuff like that and he's a huge part of course management. As far as it goes in my brain, I think we're all just trying to play tournaments kind of waiting for those good little spurts, and take advantage of them when you can. Outside of that, a lot of major championship golf is just eliminating silly mistakes. This is a golf course where you can be very patient and still play very good golf, and then you can get aggressive and play some really good golf, but you can also get aggressive and find yourself making doubles really, really quickly. So, finding that balance between having the shots where you're feeling really good over -- really good over and you can be aggressive, and then finding the balance between being really aggressive and then, the shots we're not so comfortable with, playing it to the right area of the golf course.

THE MODERATOR: Scottie, thank you for your time and best of luck this week.

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER: Thanks, y'all. Appreciate it.

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