Masters champ Scheffler returns to work in New Orleans

AVONDALE, La. (AP) — One of the perks from winning the Masters is recognition that comes from outside the world of golf. For Scottie Scheffler, that included a letter from fellow Dallas resident and former President George W. Bush.

One problem.

“His handwriting is really hard to read,” Scheffler said Wednesday. “I hear he’s a good artist now. He’s got to do some work on his handwriting.”

Whatever it said, the moment was not lost on Scheffler. He has a Masters green jacket at home. He has won four of his past six tournaments to reach No. 1 in the world. It’s a little overwhelming to be getting handwritten notes from a former U.S. president, and getting social media mention from Michael Phelps and a message from Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

“Stuff like that is pretty cool,” Scheffler said. “That’s probably the only moments I’ve had where I kind of sit and reflect on what’s happened the past month-and-a-half, two months. Obviously, the Masters is such a different event than the rest of them.

“Just getting some messages like that from people I’ve looked up to for so long is really special.”

After a week at home to catch his breath, it’s time to get back to work.

Scheffler is playing the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the only official team event on the PGA Tour schedule. His partner is Ryan Palmer, who has a history of playing with No. 1 players.

Palmer previously played the TPC Louisiana with Jordan Spieth twice, and then the past two times with Jon Rahm.

“The big talk around is I keep playing with guys that are top-ranked players. Well, they want to play with me,” Palmer said jokingly.

Rahm is playing the Mexico Championship next week. Palmer had a hunch in February that Scheffler — who at the time had just won for the first time on the PGA Tour — would be playing in New Orleans. He said he sent Scheffler a picture of Palmer and Rahm posing with the Zurich Classic trophy two years ago, superimposing Scheffler’s face over Rahm’s.

They know each other well from casual rounds in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and practice rounds on tour. Palmer knows Scheffler well enough to not be surprised how the 25-year-old is handling his new fame.

Scheffler doesn’t get too wrapped up in himself or what he has achieved. He goes minute to minute at home and on the golf course.

“He’s just such a humble and down-to-earth guy,” Palmer said. “I’ve listened to plenty of interviews. He’ll never change. His upbringing has been so great. His family, I know them all and they’re such great folks. That’s what’s so great about him is somebody will be thrown in that limelight so fast, and to do what he’s done … it’s like nothing’s changed.”

Scheffler had a relatively quiet week, just how he likes it, spending most his time in the backyard and only getting back to golf last weekend. And then he shot a 63 at Royal Oaks. Nothing has changed.

As for the green jacket, Scheffler says he has worn it a few times at home. He’s even tried to use it for a little leverage if his wife, Meredith, wants him to do something.

“Sometimes I’ll grab it out of the closet and look at her, ‘Huh, really?’ It hasn’t worked yet,” he said to laughter.

No matter how well Scheffler is going, he and Palmer will have their work cut out for them against a particularly strong field.

Players Championship winner Cameron Smith, who gave Scheffler the biggest battle at Augusta National until his triple bogey on the par-3 12th hole, is back with Marc Leishman as they try to defend their title.

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will take their successful Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup partnership to the TPC Louisiana. Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland, Nos. 2 and 5 in the world ranking, are playing together.

The most unusual team is Bill Haas and his 68-year-old father, Jay Haas, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour who is making his 799th start. His first tournament as a pro was the 1976 Western Open. He tied for 47th and earned $535.

Haas used to play the former team event in Disney with his uncle, former Masters champion Bob Goalby, who died earlier this year. He knows how fun it can be, even if he was a little hesitant when his son approached him.

“Bill asked me to play, and I tried to discourage him, that he needed a partner that could help him a little bit more,” Haas said. “But just being with him out here and being on the same range with him again, looking down the aisles here and just seeing all the great players that we have … it’s something I’ve been thinking about, certainly nervous about.”

It will be only the second time they have played together. Jay and Bill Haas were in the same group at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2006.

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