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Scottie Scheffler still chasing repeat at 2024 Players Championship

Scottie Scheffler still chasing repeat at 2024 Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Scottie Scheffler is a hurting champion.

The reigning holder of the Players Championship says he feels pain whenever he passes the halfway point of his backswing. The pain is there whenever he tries to shape shots with longer clubs. He’s not 100 percent, far from it. He described his approach Saturday as “kind of slapping it around out there.”

Repeat hopes are done, right? Take one look at the scoreboard.

Pain and all, Scheffler gutted out three finishing birdies in a row — a 4-2-3 on the daunting three-hole final combination of the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass — to keep his hopes of an unprecedented repeat alive at the Players Championship.

Scheffler’s finish brought him into the clubhouse with a 68, 12 under for the tournament and tied for sixth at five strokes behind leader Xander Schauffele.

“Just using my hands as much as I can, and just trying to slap it around, get it up there somewhere near the green and hopefully get up-and-down or make some putts,” he said.

Still, he said he’s feeling better than he did Friday, describing the 12th hole of the second round as his lowest point.

“If I turn my head, right there is where I start feeling pain. It’s not going to make it any worse,” he said. “If anything, today playing golf may have loosened it up a touch, which is great news really. A lot of times after you get an acute injury like that, waking up the next morning can be pretty tough. This morning I woke up feeling better than yesterday, and hopefully I’ll feel even better tomorrow.”

But the physical pain was only part of Scheffler’s battle during a frustrating streak of nine pars in a row from No. 7 to No. 15. With the round’s finish, he banished those doubts.

At the par-5 16th, he laid up short and hit his approach within 6 feet, igniting the birdie run. At 17, he took aim at the island green flagstick and made birdie from 7 feet. Finally, on the formidable 18th, two crisp shots placed him on the putting surface, and ball met cup from 11 feet, 7 inches out.

His quest: Back-to-back Players titles, a feat never before attained in a half-century of the PGA Tour’s showcase event.

The highest-placed defending champion at the following event was 1989 champion Tom Kite, who placed fifth in 1990 with a seven-stroke deficit to Jodie Mudd. In terms of strokes to the leader, the closest was 1988 champion Mark McCumber, tying for sixth the following spring but only…


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