Analysis: Golf now boasts two dominant figures in Scheffler and Korda. This wasn’t a sudden development

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Scottie Scheffler

Golf didn’t have a clear top player for ten years. But now, within the past month, the game suddenly has two.

Scottie Scheffler won his first PGA Tour event at the Phoenix Open two years ago. Now, he has 10 tour titles, including two at the Masters. He’s not just the No. 1 player in the world; he has double the points of the next player, Rory McIlroy. That hasn’t happened since Tiger Woods doubled the lead over Phil Mickelson in 2008.

Nelly Korda didn’t win on the LPGA Tour in 2023. Her only title was at the Aramco Series in London on the Ladies European Tour. But now, she’s made history in the LPGA with five straight victories and nearly double the points of Lilia Vu, who won two majors last year.

It might seem like this happened quickly, but it hasn’t. Korda has all the qualities of a star. She comes from an athletic family – her older sister, Jessica, plays on the LPGA Tour, her younger brother, Sebastian, is No. 26 in the world in tennis, and her father, Petr, won the Australian Open in 1998.

Even the late Mickey Wright, considered the best LPGA player, admired her swing in a 2017 Golf Digest interview. This was before Korda won her first of 13 LPGA titles.

Korda reached No. 1 when she won the KPMG Women’s PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club and then secured the Olympic gold in Japan. But she faced challenges – surgery for a blood clot in her left arm in 2022 and a back injury in spring 2023.

Nelly Korda (Credits: Golfweek)

She has a calm demeanor and strong resilience, matching well with her coach Jamie Mulligan. He describes her as having “shooter’s adrenaline,” a basketball term.

Mulligan explains that a quiet mind can still perform well even when the heart is racing. Now, she’s back in top form, winning before a home crowd in Bradenton, Florida, and skipping the Asia swing. After a seven-week break, she won four in a row.

Her victory at the Chevron Championship, her fifth straight win, was never in doubt. She admitted to feeling nervous and sick before the tournament. It’s a testament to her focus and simplicity in her game plan.

That’s how Scheffler makes it look. He picks a target. He swings the club. It goes where he’s looking.

No one excels more from tee to green, which sometimes makes his putting appear worse than it is. Last year, he fell into some bad habits that made his putter seem like a problem. But that’s been fixed. And that’s scary for other golfers.

After finishing his latest impressive performance in the rain-delayed RBC Heritage on Monday morning, Scheffler was asked about the worst shot he hit in the final round.

It took him a moment. Finally, he mentioned a 3-wood he pulled off the tee on the eighth hole. It just ended up in the left rough. But that was the point. He hardly ever misses.

“I didn’t quite get your question there,” he said with a laugh. “I was going through my shots, and I thought … yeah, I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, and the ball was coming out nicely. If a shot didn’t end up where I wanted, it was probably just a little gust of wind.”

Now, both Korda and Scheffler will take a break for a few weeks.

Nelly Korda

Korda withdrew from the JM Eagle LA Championship on Monday – probably a wise move for her and the long season ahead, but tough for the LPGA just when it was ready to capitalize on her success. She’s not expected back until May 9 for the Cognizant Founders Cup.

Scheffler said he won’t be back until the PGA Championship on May 16-19. His wife, Meredith, is due to give birth to their first child by the end of the month.

Approaching a full year at No. 1 in the world is rare in men’s golf. Only Dustin Johnson (64 weeks) and McIlroy (54 weeks) have achieved that post-Woods. After his first victory, it only took Scheffler 50 tournaments to get the next nine.

This level of performance didn’t just happen overnight. It may seem that way because of his putting struggles.

“I was at No. 1 in the world for a long time last year,” Scheffler said. “But I wasn’t getting questions like, ‘Hey, you’ve been playing so great.’ It was more like, ‘Hey, you’ve been playing great, BUT you’ve been struggling with this one thing.'”

He laughed because laughter comes easily to Scheffler. So does winning.


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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