By Art Stricklin
TULSA –To achieve their ultimate goal this week at historic Southern Hills Country Club, both Dallas’ Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth will have to beat a host of talented players to capture the second major golf championship of the year.
But for the two longtime friends and former North Texas junior golf competitors, both at the top of their professional games, the chance to beat each other would be enticing to them and those who have followed their careers.
“I’d look forward to it. You always want to be there down the stretch of major championship, regardless who you are playing, but with him (Spieth) even more so,” Scheffler said.
“I didn’t get to play with Scottie as much when we were kids,” Spieth added, “because I was older (28 vs. 25), but we’ve played some at home and it’s always good to play with friends.”
While the two players downplayed any heated rivalry two days before the 104th PGA Championship, those who know them best, said a chance to settle a North Texas rivalry on one of the biggest stages in golf was something they would relish.
“They have competed with each other for a long time and I sure they would want to teach the other sometime on the golf course. I know Jordan was happy for Scottie when he won the Masters, but I know they want to prove who is the best in North Texas which is really who’s best in the world,” said Northern Texas PGA executive director Mark Harrison.
Former Texas Golf Association director Rob Addington introduced Spieth to his longtime teacher Cameron McCormick, then the director of instruction at Brook Hollow Country Club in Dallas, and has known both golfers for years. He said friendship between the two is real, but so is the competition.
“They didn’t get to the place where they are, without being competitive, so I’m sure there is something between them, but they will have to beat a lot of other players as well.”
While it’s not uncommon for an area to produce a large number of professional golfers at the same time, The Oak Tree Boys in Edmond come to mind, but it’s rare for two players to be competing at such a high level at the same time.
Both Spieth and Scheffler have been ranked No. 1 in the world, where Scheffler is currently. Both have won Masters titles, Scheffler most recently in April, but Spieth came out after the Masters to win his next event at Hilton Head and then finish second last week at their hometown Byron Nelson PGA Tour event. Scheffler was 15th and played in a match play PGA Tour event in New Orleans with fellow North Texas golfer Ryan Palmer.
“I didn’t have my best stuff last week at the Nelson and finished 15th. I gave myself a chance, but didn’t hit a lot of shots on the back nine,” Scheffler said.
Last year at the Nelson, Scheffler and Spieth were paired together where Spieth won their head to head match. This year, they were paired again, tying in the first round 67-67, with Spieth winning round two, 65-68. They are not paired together in the first two rounds of the PGA this week.
But you can count on the two North Texas buddies and their many friends here keeping an eye on each across the Southern Hills Landscape this week.