‘That Fire Burned Hot’ – Former Coach On Scheffler’s Will To Win

Why Scottie Scheffler's fiercely competitive streak is one of the big reasons for his success

Scottie Scheffler during a practice round before the 2022 PGA Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Very few players have made as dramatic an impact as Scottie Scheffler in the first few years of his PGA Tour career.

The American finished tied for 7th in his first regular Tour event in September 2019, A Military Tribute At The Greenbrier. Two more top 10 finishes closed out the year, then he finished tied for 4th in the 2020 PGA Championship to announce his arrival on the world stage. Scheffler steadily climbed the Official Golf World Ranking, and broke into the top 10 in early 2022. From there, he rapidly rose to World No.1 courtesy of four wins, including The Masters.

While Scheffler missed the cut at this year’s PGA Championship, his ascent has taken many by surprise, but not those who've worked with him. Speaking to Golf Monthly, Scheffler’s University of Texas men’s coach, John Fields, says his will to win sets him apart. He said: “The number one thing that he is ridiculous with in terms of the competitiveness inside of him, it’s like an extra gene in terms of the competitiveness. That fire burned hot and sometimes took control over during college competitions. Sometimes his anger out there was like, ‘Wow,’ and it would get the best of him from time to time.”

While Scheffler has appeared largely unflappable during his successful 2022, there were signs at Southern Hills that the fire still burns. At one point, he repeatedly slammed his clubs in an angry outburst. However, that will to win doesn't surprise the 25-year-old’s caddie, Ted Scott. He said: “Our second week, we got together outside the course and played paddle tennis together, and it was like, ‘Wow, this guy wants to just crush people at everything he competes against, anyone he faces.’"

As for Scheffler’s current coach, Randy Smith, he saw something special in him at a young age. He said: “When he was six-and-a-half years old, he didn’t do what other kids at that age did. He could do things with the golf ball that were just natural little things that he would create. You would watch him and he was like a savant. The thing that gave it away, I was sitting there and watching him hit balls for the first time, and I was just amazed. Every shot he hit, it didn’t matter what it was, was tied to a target. And that’s every single shot."

Smith also saw that competitiveness and had a unique way to harness it - by telling the young Scheffler to increase the stakes he was playing for on the course. He explained: “I said, 'Quit playing for quarters. If your dad doesn’t like you gambling, then you should bring home dollars. Bring home some real money.'”

In recent months, Scheffler has certainly done that and tops the PGA Tour money list for 2022, with earnings over $10m. Some of that came thanks to his Masters win, which was literally a dream come true for Smith. He said: “It was very gratifying to sit there and watch him do it at Augusta. It was really cool to see that jacket go on him because I’ve seen that in some dreams.” 

As for Scheffler, he has a straightforward answer as to why he’s so driven. He said: “I like competing, so for me, coming out here on Tour and competing is important. It’s what we do.”

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.