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Putt it in the bank: Scottie Scheffler era of golf has officially begun | Commentary

Prepare yourself, golf world.

A new era has officially begun.

A new king has been crowned.

The Maestro of Monotony has arrived and he’s here to stay.

Scottie Scheffler isn’t the most exciting golfer in the world.

He’s not the most colorful.

He’s not the most candid.

He’s not the most quotable.

But you know what he is?

He’s the most dominant.

He’s the best golfer on the planet.

And you better get used to it.

Now that he’s re-discovered his putting stroke, his continued reign on the game has been fortified.

Scheffler showed yet again why he is the world’s top-ranked golfer on Sunday when he treated the vaunted course at Bay Hill like it was a pitch-and-putt muni course in Sopchoppy. Scheffler fired a bogey-free 6-under 66 in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and ran away from the field for a five-shot victory — the most lopsided win at Bay Hill since Tiger Woods in 2012.

“His ball-striking is, honestly, on another level compared to everyone else right now,” Rory McIlroy said of Scheffler. “We knew if he started to hole putts, then this sort of stuff would happen.”

Scheffler has been called dull and colorless because of his reserved demeanor and calm exterior. No trash-talking, no flashy personality and a voice more monotone than your GPS giving you directions to the public library.

But who cares if he’s bland and boring when his golf game is so dominant and dynamic?

Besides, some of the greatest champions of all time weren’t exactly the most colorful and charismatic in their fields either.

Derek Jeter? The only thing interesting about him was his little black book filled with supermodels.

Did you ever hear Tiger Woods say anything of substance during his heyday? The only thing captivating about Tiger was his fist-pumping dominance on the course and his scandalous behavior off it.

Tom Brady is the GOAT of the NFL, but his press conferences were about as intriguing as reading the dictionary.

The greatest champion of the modern NASCAR era is seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who was more flavorless than a rice cake.

Granted, sports would be much more fun if all of our champions were outspoken like Muhammad Ali or effusive like Richard Petty or charismatic like Arnold Palmer, but in today’s world — with all of the noise, distraction and clamoring cacophony of social media — it’s almost as if our greatest champions have to be laser-focused on their craft.

Granted, you’ll never catch Scheffler wearing neon-colored clothes like Rickie Fowler or chugging beers at Hooters like John Daly or playing in a rock band like the late, great Payne Stewart, but he doesn’t need to be a larger-than-life personality when he has a larger-than-life golf game.

He shot a 66 on a course Sunday in which the average score was 73.1, and he had the low round of the day by two shots. The victory ended a so-called year-long slump for Scheffler, who hasn’t won a Tour event since the The Players Championship last March, when he also ran away from the field, won by five and became only the third winner at TPC Sawgrass with all four rounds in the 60s.

It should tell you something about Scheffler’s unbelievable ability that his “slump” in 2023 came in a year where still won two times, led the Tour in scoring average and easily maintained his No. 1 world ranking. If not for his putting woes last year and at the beginning of this season, who knows how many tournaments he would have won by now?

Here’s all you need to know: Scheffler came into the Arnie ranked first in greens in regulation, first in approach shots, first in birdies, second in scoring average … and 144th in putting.

On the advice of McIlroy, he switched from a blade putter to a mallet putter this week and his putting got miraculously better as the tournament progressed. He began the tournament ranked 144th on the Tour in putting, but on Sunday at the Arnie he was No. 1 and didn’t miss a single putt from 15 feet or closer.

Amazingly, Scheffler has gone from having the touch of a blacksmith putting with a sledgehammer to having a stroke like the great Ben Crenshaw putting with his iconic “Little Ben” blade back in the day.

“This one’s pretty special because it’s been a while since I won and there had been some chatter about the state of my game,” Scheffler admitted.

Well, the only chatter now is about Scheffler being on the verge of dominating the game.

“I don’t really look at the world rankings very often, but with that being said, it’s nice to be No. 1,” Scheffler said. “It’s not something I focus on; it’s not something I place my identity in. For me, as a golfer, I just try to put the work in. Just because you make it to the top, the work gets more difficult to stay there. It’s challenging because everybody is looking up at me at the top of the rankings and trying to take me down.”

Good luck with that.

Good luck knocking the new king off his throne.

The Maestro of Monotony has only just begun to dominate.

Email me at mbianchi@orlandosentinel.com. Hit me up on X (formerly Twitter) @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6 to 9:30 a.m. on FM 96.9, AM 740 and 969TheGame.com/listen