You’ll never guess who’s leading the RBC Heritage

It’s Scottie Scheffler.

We’ll wait a moment while you stagger to your fainting couch and pass out for a minute or two.

Wait … you’re still here. You’re not surprised?

You’re not shocked that after a mediocre start on Thursday at the RBC Heritage, in what looked like a very understandable Masters hangover, the World No. 1 golfer fought back with a solid back nine, went into full “oh no, he’s lurking” mode on Friday with a 65, and then shot a 63 on Saturday to seize a one-shot lead as we wait for what feels like Sunday’s inevitable, merciless victory march?

In that case, join the club. The World No. 1, winner of Bay Hill, winner of Sawgrass, winner of Augusta, second of his name, king of the tee and the approach and the green now too, protector of the Tour, Father of Birdies, Khal of the Great Grass Fairway, the Unbogeyed, Breaker of Par … well, he’s back at it, and nobody, we’re pretty sure, can stop him.

At least they couldn’t on Saturday. Whether he was draining absurd bombs or dropping approaches to two feet or controlling the trajectory and flight of the ball with his mind (note: we can’t quite prove this one, but it has to be true), Scheffler was lights out yet again. He stretched his bogey-free streak to 51 holes back to the double bogey he made on No. 3 Thursday, and his 63 was the best of the third round by two shots. Only J.T. Poston’s first round equaled him. But unlike Scheffler, Poston didn’t time his 63 to be a devastating psychological dagger delivered to the soft underbelly of the rest of the field.

Even the PGA Tour, grasping for how to present a fresh angle, has been reduced to throwing up their hands like the rest of us and saying, “What else is new?”

Nor is Scheffler surprised at how he’s following up his Masters campaign.

“I mean, not really,” he said. “I did my best to get as much rest as I could at the beginning of the week. Fortunately, with the way the pairings were this week, I didn’t have that really early morning. I had a 10:30 start on Thursday and a 1:30 start yesterday, and then I was out after 1 today. Plenty of time in the mornings to get some rest and get the mind right to come out here and compete.”

In the absence of novel verbiage, we turn to statistics. And lo and behold, they’re not telling us anything we don’t already know either. This week, Scheffler is first in strokes gained/off the tee, first in approach and 27th in putting. Weirdly, that last number might be the scariest, because while his otherworldly ball-striking has been a fact of life for almost three years, below-average putting managed to save the rest of the professional golf world in 2023. Now, he’s comfortably into the top half of all players in seemingly every tournament, thanks to a new putter and instruction from Phil Kenyon, and the floodgates have been opened. He’s Poseidon and everyone else is staring down deluge.

Should we talk about the people chasing him? Collin Morikawa, who has clearly rediscovered his form after a mysterious swing fix and his own foray into Mallet World? Sepp Straka, the European Ryder Cupper who has been superb in fall facets of his game this week? Ludvig Aberg, the Swedish wunderkind who would be wearing a green jacket in a world where Scheffler didn’t exist? Poston, Sahith Theegala, Patrick Rodgers, Patrick Cantlay, Seamus Power, Stephan Jaeger, Xander Schauffele?

They’re all not far off the lead and have their selling points. And one of them may even win on Sunday at Hilton Head. But it’s hard to believe. It’s like believing that a hot air balloon with a basket of gold and a sign saying “take me” will land in your front yard on Monday morning as you leave for work. It’s possible, technically, but altogether unlikely. You’ll probably just unlock your car, plug in your phone, and back out of the driveway. Scottie Scheffler will probably win.

Lucky for us, as preordained as this may all sound, the bedrock of it all is some really, really, really exceptional golf. Count this writer as one who believes that greatness on this level is never boring, always riveting. The number crunchers who are smart enough to measure this stuff keep reaching the same conclusion, which is that nobody except Tiger Woods has put together a sustained run of this quality in the last 30 years (at least).

Scheffler is on an historic heater, and though he may keep his cards close to the vest, and though he lacks the electricity of a Tiger or the heart-stopping chaos of a Jordan Spieth or the dizzying mercurial weirdness of a Rory McIlroy, his play is an epiphany of its own. We know what’s going to happen on Sunday—at least we think we do—but even though nothing about the latest Scheffler victory is surprising, it remains staggering.

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