• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Scottie Scheffler playing under the radar at US Open, and he's fine with that | Opinion

·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

BROOKLINE, Mass. — It’s not every U.S. Open that the reigning Masters champion can claim, quite correctly, that he is flying under the radar when he’s near the lead at the halfway point of the men’s national championship just two months after winning at Augusta National.

But that’s what Scottie Scheffler said Friday, and that’s pretty much the truth as he fired a stellar three-under-par 67 to launch himself into contention for a second major title of the year while his peers have grabbed all of the headlines here at The Country Club.

Who have we heard about all week? Not Scheffler, that’s for sure. How about Phil Mickelson? He certainly has made some news as a much-discussed escapee to LIV Golf, trying gamely to explain in a press conference that his dash for cash was about growing the game of golf rather than growing his own bank account.

He joined the Saudis so he can play exhibition-style golf with no cut and only three rounds. Here, he played a tournament with only two rounds but definitely with a cut, which he missed by eight strokes.

OPINION:  Even this US Senator is disgusted by Phil Mickelson and Saudi golf

OPENERS:  Rory McIlroy patiently overcomes anger, obstacles to grab share of US Open lead

NEVER MISS A MOMENT:  Sign up for the latest news direct to your inbox

Rory McIlroy has been in the headlines too, offering an eloquent defense of the history and tradition of the PGA Tour and the power of real competition in golf. So has Justin Thomas, who said he has lost sleep as he has watched the Tour lose some big-name performers.

Scheffler, who turns 26 Tuesday, said he is pleased to have players like McIlroy, 33, and Thomas, 29, taking the lead, doing the interviews, defending the PGA Tour in these fraught times.

“Those guys have been on the PGA Tour for a long time,” Scheffler said after his round. “Justin Thomas has won, like, 13 times and two majors (for 15 total Tour wins), Rory has won four majors and, like, 21 times (total) on the PGA Tour. Those guys are definitely going to be more the spokespersons and take the limelight because they deserve it. They've won so many golf tournaments.”

Scheffler continued: ”I kind of like flying under the radar. For me, it makes things a lot simpler. Those guys (are) carrying our brand, and I'm really happy that they do what they do for us.”

Scottie Scheffler plays his shot from the eighth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open.
Scottie Scheffler plays his shot from the eighth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open.

Scheffler, the world No. 1 who has won four times this year, including the Masters, but missed the cut at the PGA Championship, said he’s not opposed to speaking out, it’s just that no one has asked him to do so, at least not yet.

“I mean, if it's what's required of me, then that's what I'll do,” he said. “I'm up for anything. It's really just kind of up to you guys (the news media), if you guys want to ask me certain questions or not, so it's not really up to me, I just kind of answer what gets thrown at me.”

So far, the questions are mostly about golf. There was a moment Friday, not a good one, when Scheffler was two-over par after six holes and not a happy camper.

“I just stayed really patient,” he said. “I was hitting it good pretty much most of the day. Two silly bogeys early in the round, but outside of that, I hit it really good. I was in position most of the day. If a few more putts would have fallen in versus around the edge, it would have been a really special day. But three-under was a good score for me, especially being two-over through 6.”

Now he moves onto the weekend, where he is in position to make a run at becoming the first man to win two majors in the same year since Brooks Koepka did it in 2018, and before that, Jordan Spieth in 2015 and McIlroy in 2014. Tiger Woods won multiple majors in the same year four times.

But if no one’s talking about that, it’s fine with him.

“I don't really feel like there's much chatter going around with me,” Scheffler said. “Rory won last week (at the Canadian Open), Tiger was at the PGA. I've been No. 1 in the world for a while now, and it doesn't really feel like it, so I kind of like just under the radar. I can show up and do my thing and then go home and rest.”

He should enjoy it while he can, because a few more rounds like Friday’s and that low profile isn’t going to last much longer.

Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Christine Brennan on Twitter @cbrennansports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US Open: Scottie Scheffler playing under the radar as world No. 1