Scheffler back in action, shoots for third straight win

golf27 March 2024 22:28| Ā© Reuters
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Scottie Scheffler Ā© Gallo Images

Scottie Scheffler apparently isn't one for superstition.

Scheffler was growing out a thick beard while he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship in consecutive weeks. But as he arrived at Memorial Park Golf Course for the Texas Children's Houston Open, which begins Thursday, it was revealed to the golfing world that the beard was shorn.

"It was nice because I didn't have to think about it, but then my beard got so long that it became work," Scheffler said.

Golf hasn't looked like work for Scheffler lately. He comes to his home state of Texas trying to become the first since Dustin Johnson in 2017 to win three straight starts on the PGA Tour.

"I like trying to support as many events as I can in my home state," Scheffler said.

"Like you said, I definitely am a proud Texan and so I like to do what I can to support the events here at home. Yeah, it's good to be back."

The Houston Open is back in the spring after being held in the fall for a number of years. It was not played during the 2023 calendar year in anticipation of being moved back to the springtime amid the tour's schedule changes.

Scheffler tied for second at the Houston Open in the fall of 2021 and tied for ninth in November 2022. He shot a tournament-record 62 in the second round in 2021, which Tony Finau equaled the following year.

Finau won the 2022-23 event and hopes to get his season on the right track this week. He's had only one top-10 finish in eight starts.

"Quite a different title defense as it's not playing at the same time of the year and 16 months later, but I am happy to be back and looking forward to playing some good golf this week," Finau said.

Scheffler took off last week when the PGA Tour finished its Florida swing at the Valspar Championship, where Peter Malnati won his first tournament since 2015 and qualified for his first Masters.

The Houston Open could allow another player not already qualified for the Masters to book his trip to Augusta with a win. There's also the matter of the Aon Swing 5 standings, which will help a lucky few qualify for the next non-major Signature Event, the RBC Heritage.

Malnati, who was tearful after winning the Valspar, said on Wednesday he isn't focused on any of the monetary outcomes associated with his victory.

"I think people are just sick of the narrative in golf being about, you know, contracts on LIV, purses on the tour, guaranteed comp on the tour," Malnati said.

"I think people are so sick of that. They want to see sport, they want to see people who are the best in the world at what they do, do it at a high level and celebrate that. Celebrate the athleticism, celebrate the achievement."

Other notable names in the field include World No 4 Wyndham Clark, Australia's Jason Day, Will Zalatoris and Si Woo Kim of South Korea.

Clark finished second or tied for second in both of Scheffler's wins this month; he said he hurt a back muscle earlier in the week but believes he will be ready for his Thursday tee time.