Brooklyn, Mass. ( Associated Press) – Scotty Schaeffler stood in the eighth fairway at The Country Club and waited for his ball to roll. When this happened, he took a few steps to his left and tried to climb the false front guarding the pin for the third time.
Instead of giving the Eagles a long put and a chance to build their lead in the final round of the US Open, Scheffler made a short shot to save the draw. And when he finished a stroke behind winner Matt Fitzpatrick on Sunday, it wasn’t hard to find shots that cost him.
“This week I’ve had some of the worst shots in my career, and I’ve made some great shots,” said Scheffler, the world’s top-ranked player and current Masters champion.
He closed with Will Zalatoris at 3-under 67 to finish second.
“It was like a roller coaster week,” he said, although he could talk about the eighth hole alone. “It was definitely a lot of fun to be at the end. Unfortunately, just one shot came short.”
Scheffler rode heavily on a 560-yard, par-5 eighth, made back-to-back birdies in the first two rounds and grabbed a fairway iron for an eagle on Saturday.
But in the final round, with the tournament leading the way, he turned his approach about 20 feet away from the pin and watched as it made a U-turn and rolled back towards it. On his second stab at the green, he struck again on the false front and wound up two yards away from where he had started.
A 25-year-old Dallas transplant, Scheffler placed his fourth shot — and third attempt at the green — about 6 feet from the hole to save the par. He turned with the lead, but Scheffler was alone in third, starting back nine after back-to-back bogeys.
“I played good golf, but it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “There are definitely some things I could have done differently, but I’m not going to waste time thinking about it. I’m going to get over it and move on and hope to get better from here on out.” “
Schaeffler single-handedly moved to 10th at 6-under, but Fitzpatrick was joined by him until he completed his second shot on a 503-yard par 4. Schaeffler rolled his approach over the green into a bunker on the far side, rolled off the lip of the cup on his third shot and missed the coming back 13-foot par.
Now trailing one and tied for second with Zalatoris, Scheffler landed on the green for part of the lead with a 40-foot birdie putt on the 119-yard 11th hole. He missed, then lip-synced to his 3-foot-equipped putt.
“I look at those bogeys on 10 and 11 and don’t hit a really bad shot,” he said. “Hit a lot of good shots (at No. 10) and go with 5. At 11, … it was a really tough par. After that, I just kept trying to stick with and hit good shots.”
Behind the two groups of leaders, Schaeffler made a 6-foot birdie putt on number 17 and moved back to 5 under – in second place alone, one stroke behind Fitzpatrick. A 25-footer for a birdie on number 18 that would have forced the playoffs to roll to the left side of the hole.
There’s some consolation: With his $1,557,687 check, Schaeffler has earned $12,896,849 this year and set a PGA Tour record for official money in a season — even with another major and tour post season right now. Still to come.
The previous record was held by Jordan Spieth, who won $12,030,465 in 2015.
Schaeffler, who won the 2013 US Junior Amateur and was “Phil Mickelson Freshman of the Year” in Texas, is now a US Open runner-up, like Mickelson (who has done it six times).
Schaeffler was trying to be the first player since Brooks Koepka in 2018 to win two Majors in a year. He was also aiming for a fifth win of his career – all in the last four months.
“I just played some quality golf. It just so happened that the puts were going around the edge instead of inside,” he said. “Something breaks here or there, and I’d be the one holding the trophy.”
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