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Golf's new world number one doesn't want anything to change
Scottie Scheffler hadn't won a title two months ago, but the American will arrive at the Masters as world number one and the planet's hottest golfer.
Scheffler leaped from fifth to first in the rankings by winning last week's WGC Match Play Championship, completing a meteoric rise from outside the top 20 last November.
"It has been kind of a crazy past few months," said Scheffler, who has been propelled to the top by three tournament victories. "Guess I'm making up for a little bit of lost time maybe the last few weeks.
"I don't feel like number one in the world. I feel like the same guy I was four months ago and I hope that doesn't change."
Scheffler won his first PGA title in February at the Phoenix Open, took his second last month at Bay Hill and took the match play in Texas after being runner-up a year earlier.
"He has been playing great golf for a long time," said Spain's Jon Rahm, who was dethroned from the top spot.
"Sometimes you just need to get it done. He was very close many times. You can see what happens when he gets it done once, right? You get a little bit of confidence and the ball gets rolling, you can get a few.
"Does he have the ability to win a major? Yes. Yes, he does."
Tiger Woods had been the fastest to go from his first PGA title to the rankings summit, needing 252 days. Scheffler did it in 42 days and now expectations grow for a first major triumph, maybe even a green jacket.
"I don't place too many expectations on myself. I just like being out here and competing," Scheffler said. "I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to do that and I look forward to doing it as long as I can."
Scheffler's dreams were of a golf career more than topping the list.
"I wanted to be a professional golfer. That's what I dreamed of," he said. "The rankings never really crossed my mind. It was always just about being out here and competing."
The Masters is the only major where Scheffler hasn't cracked the top 10, finishing 19th in 2020 and 18th last year in his only two Augusta starts.
Scheffler shared fourth at the 2020 PGA Championship, eighth at the 2021 PGA and British Open and seventh in last year's US Open.
He also went 2-0 with a tie at last year's Ryder Cup, beating Rahm in singles to help the Americans rout Europe 19-9.
In August 2020, Scheffler fired a 12-under par 59 at the Northern Trust to match the US PGA's second-best 18-hole score on his way to the PGA Rookie of the Year award.
- 'Unbelievable talent' -
"Scottie is an unbelievable talent," 13th-ranked Billy Horschel said. "It was just a matter of time before he got over the hump."
Horschel compared Scheffler to another 25-year-old American, 11th-ranked Sam Burns, who defended his Valspar Championship title in March for his third PGA victory.
"They're going to be challenging the Justin Thomases, the Brooks Koepkas, the Rory McIlroys, the Jon Rahms," Horschel said. "I see Scottie winning a major and I see Sam Burns winning a major."
Reigning British Open champion Collin Morikawa sees Scheffler's success as a tribute to his perseverance.
"As it relates to Scottie's game, I don't think anything has changed," said two-time major winner Morikawa. "Scottie has always been a great player and he's doing the same thing.
"That's what happens. You just have to keep knocking at the door, keep believing in what you're doing. And sometimes you'll get that one break and there you are holding the trophy.
"He's just finding this little hot streak and he's rolling with it."
Success won't spoil Scheffler if he can help it, but he is working to get better to achieve that next major goal.
"I'd like to improve across the board. I feel like you can always be improving," he said.
"I'm not going to revamp my swing or do anything crazy. I'm just going to keep trying to make those incremental improvements, keep my head down and keep working hard."