Will new putter, course knowledge bring Scottie Scheffler the US Open title?
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Will new putter, course knowledge bring Scottie Scheffler the US Open title?

A photo of golfer Scottie Scheffler AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 27: Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays his shot from the first tee in his finals match against Kevin Kisner of the United States on the final day of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 27, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES -- The June gloom over L.A. had only dissipated a few moments before a downright bouncy Scottie Scheffler came beaming into the U.S. Open interview room, seemingly dispelling the rest of the clouds with a smile and spreading both good news and juicy gossip about his chances this week.

With his past experience at Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course and newfound confidence in his putting stroke, Scheffler may be ready to end a perplexing early season slump with a second major championship title.

“It's good to be back here. I have good memories of this golf course,” he stated, speaking of his Walker Cup appearance here back in 2017, when the U.S. dismembered a team from Great Britain and Ireland 19-7. “I remembered most of the holes before we showed up this week, so that's kind of unusual for me. Usually, I don't remember too much.”

Scheffler then went on to highlight the wide mix of holes at L.A. Country Club’s North Course, a venue that will feature two 290-yard par 3s (the seventh and 11th) and a 320-yard par-4 (the sixth). And the par-3 15th, normally 124 yards, will likely see the tee moved up om Saturday to a paltry 78 yards, as it was for one round in the Walker Cup.

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“You're hitting a lot of different clubs into greens and it gives you a lot of options,” he mused. The he went from mused to confused. “On 6, I don't even know if I'm going to even try hitting the fairway. I don't know what I'm going to do on that hole yet.”

Those words are music to a set-up chairman’s ears. L.A. Country Club’s North Course, making its first appearance hosting a major championship, is getting a hefty dose of respect from the best players in the world who have yet to solve its cunning golf puzzles. When you have the golfer confused, timid uncertain swings follow, with drama a certainty after that, especially at a U.S. Open, with its formidable rough.

“The rough out here can be a bit chancy to where sometimes you can go into it and be in rough that's this long, and Bermuda, which I've never seen before. That was one of the things is that surprised me most about coming to this course for the first time, was that it was all Bermuda and the greens were bent,” Scheffler pointed out. “And like today I hit it in the right rough on 5, and it was like 8-inch rough. I hit a pitching wedge as hard as I could and carried like 90 yards. And usually in Bermuda, you're kind of hitting into those areas where you're just trying to judge a flier. Here sometimes you're judging a flier and then sometimes you're hacking it out. So just a guessing game what's going to happen when you hit it in the rough. It's definitely very U.S. Open-like.”

Besides experience, Scheffler may bring a new putter into play, coyly toying with curious journalists about it during the interview.

“Are you changing putters this week?” asked WFAN host Ann Liguori laconically.

You could almost hear Scheffler do a Ralph Kramden – hammana hammana hammana… - before trying to dodge the question.

“You guys can find out Thursday,” he said flatly. But now, with a trail to follow, the rest of the gang joined in to keep the rally going.

“What goes into thinking and the philosophy of changing before a major like that? How much of a big decision is that for you or anyone?” came next, and Scheffler knew the jig was up. Time for a direct answer.

“I don't ever take decisions on switching equipment lightly. [But] I think it's strange that I've been struggling the past few weeks with my putter,” he offered. “The PGA I actually felt like I rolled it pretty good. Few putts here or there that lipped out that should have gone in. Memorial obviously had an off week on the greens or probably would've won that one. I mean, sometimes you just got to bring another putter around there to make the original one scared.”

Perhaps it’s the rest of the field that should be scared. Back in 2022, Scheffler looked impregnable: Player of the Year and Masters champion. Lately, he has been finishing so well despite questions about his putting and confidence. Just as Matthew Fitzpatrick converted his earlier experience at the Country Club last year into his first major championship, so too might Scheffler call on his experience to outlast the field. No matter what, the true winner will be LACC’s North Course, but that’s the U.S. Open for you.

About the author

Jay Flemma

Jay Flemma

Starting with a blog and a dream, Jay Flemma launched his first sports-writing website in 2004. Some 13 years and 25 major golf championships later, Jay has won multiple national sports writing awards. Besides GNN, his work has appeared in numerous books as well as on-line at Cybergolf, PGA.com, GolfObserver, GolfChannel.com and many other sites and print magazines. When not trying to find a lost golf ball, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet, sports and trademark lawyer in Manhattan. His clients have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards, won a Sundance Film Festival Best Director award, performed on stage and screen, and designed pop art for museums and collectors. Jay lives in Forest Hills, N.Y., and is fiercely loyal to his alma maters, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Trinity College in Connecticut.