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The 151st Open

Scheffler leads American charge


World number one seeking second major

Scottie Scheffler is hoping to turn consistency into victory at The 151st Open

The word consistent could have been invented to define Scottie Scheffler but there is a sense he may soon stop seeing it as a compliment.

Professional golfers are used to a rollercoaster ride but this year has been more of a serene spin on a waltzer for the world number one, who arrives at Royal Liverpool off the back of a remarkably reliable set of results.

A tie for third at last week’s Genesis Scottish Open was Scheffler’s 19th consecutive top-12 finish at an event, with the most recent seven of those seeing him end inside the top five.

February’s WM Phoenix Open and the following month’s Players Championship brought silverware but a second major has proved elusive for the 2022 Masters winner, who finished in a share of second at the PGA Championship and outright third at the US Open.

Having knocked on the door on so many occasions of late, Scheffler wants to bang it down in the final major of the year as he looks to rediscover the winning formula.

“It's really fun winning. It's not as fun finishing third,” he said. “It is great to have good results, and I'm very proud of how I've competed all year and continued to put myself in positions.

“Looking back on the year, I feel like I've just been on the outside looking in during a few tournaments going into Sundays. I don't think I've had very many 54-hole leads.

“I don't try to overthink things. I try to keep things as simple as possible, and right now that recipe has been working quite well.

“I am just trying to hit it a little bit better, chip a little bit better and putt a little bit better, and hopefully the results continue to improve.”

Should Scheffler convert his string of each-way finishes into a victory this week, few could say he would not deserve it given his run of form.

But the American, who tees off at 9:47am on Thursday alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Adam Scott, has a keen sense of perspective and will not beat himself up if he bids farewell to Merseyside without the Claret Jug in his possession.

“Yes, it's so fun to win majors, but I'm not going to sit at the end of the year and look back on the year and be frustrated or upset because I didn't win a major,” he said.

“I step up on the tee at every tournament hoping to win, and every time I don't win I'm usually pretty frustrated.

“The nature of the game is at the end of every year, you're usually fairly frustrated. Even Tiger [Woods] lost a lot more than he won.

“It's not like other sports. As long as I show up and play with a good attitude, that's mostly what I try to focus on.

“At times I'm really good at that and at times I struggle, but that's what I focus on.”

Plenty of Scheffler’s compatriots will be among those confident of challenging him for glory, not least Collin Morikawa and Brooks Koepka.

Morikawa took to golf’s original major like a duck to water when winning at a sun-drenched Royal St George’s in 2021 but conditions are likely to be more changeable this week, a challenge the 26-year-old is ready for.

“I would say the last two years have been interesting,” said Morikawa, who missed the cut at St Andrews last year when defending his title.

“It has not gone the way I would have guessed it would have gone two years ago, but that's golf and that's life.

“You really don't know what to expect. It's really about learning and truly learning about it.”

He will begin this year’s Championship in confident mood following a strong performance at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, when he finished 24-under-par before missing out in a three-way play-off.

“Being in contention two weeks ago was the best feeling, walking down those last nine holes, it felt like it was just back to normal,” he said.

“It didn't feel like it was out of the norm. It just felt like, man, we're here to make birdies, we're here to win the tournament. The play-off didn't go the way I wanted, but it just felt comfortable.

“To know that that's still there, that's the best feeling.

“I do want to be back on top. I know it's going to come, I don't know when. Hopefully this week. But it's going to happen.”

Koepka, meanwhile, is looking for his second major of the year having triumphed at the PGA Championship.

Five-time major winner Brooks Koepka enjoying a practice round ahead of The 151st Open

The 33-year-old, who is soon to become a father for the first time, said: “I feel like I'm playing just as good [as at the PGA].

“I still feel pretty disciplined, focused, the game is there and I have been practising quite a bit. We'll see how the week goes.

“I’m a different golfer than I was when we were last here in 2014 and the course sets up really well.

“Links golf is all about avoiding bunkers, positioning yourself in the right spot and playing smart.

“It's a good golf course and I don't think length is a huge advantage out here. It'll be interesting to see.”

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