Scottie Scheffler brushes off being 'target' at U.S. Open

PINEHURST, N.C. -- Even though Scottie Scheffler won in five of his past eight starts and is an overwhelming betting favorite to capture his third major championship victory at this week's U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, the world No. 1 golfer insists that he doesn't feel like there's a target on his back.

"Like I said, when we start the tournament week, we're all at even par and it's not like anybody is out there playing defense," Scheffler said Tuesday.

With his 1-stroke victory at last week's Memorial Tournament, Scheffler became only the fourth PGA Tour player in the past 60 seasons to pile up five victories before the end of June. Tiger Woods (2000), Tom Watson (1980) and Johnny Miller (1974) were the others.

Scheffler is the first golfer on tour since Justin Thomas in 2016-17 to win five times, and he doesn't seem ready to slow down anytime soon.

Woods was the last player to win six times on tour in 2009.

Scheffler will tee off with PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy in Thursday's first round on the No. 1 hole at 1:14 p.m. ET. The trio will start the second round on No. 10 at 7:29 a.m. Friday.

"When I play with Xander and Rory here Thursday and Friday, they're not going to be saying weird stuff to me out on the golf course or trying to block my putt from going in the hole," Scheffler said. "We all kind of got to go out there and play our game.

"As far as a target on my back, even if there was, there's really not much we can do in the game of golf. Most of it is against the golf course and playing against yourself. Target on my back, I don't really feel it, and I don't really think about it much, no."

Scheffler's competitors know he's the golfer to beat every week. LIV Golf League captain Bryson DeChambeau called Scheffler the "gold standard" in men's golf on Tuesday. Schauffele said Scheffler makes "the mountain even taller for us to climb" every week.

Scheffler has finished in the top 25 in each of his 13 starts on tour this season, his worst finish was a tie for 17th at the American Express on Jan. 21.

Along with his five wins in his past eight starts, which included a second victory at the Masters in April, Scheffler tied for second in two others. He tied for eighth at the PGA Championship, even after he was arrested in a traffic misunderstanding a couple of hours before his second-round tee time on May 17.

When McIlroy was asked Tuesday what impressed him most about Scheffler's performance this season, he said, "The fact that the only thing that took him from winning a golf tournament was going into a jail cell for an hour."

The criminal charges against Scheffler were later dropped.

"I think just the relentlessness," McIlroy said. "Look, a lot of stuff went on in his life, as well. They've just had a new child. He's been through some struggles in his game, particularly the putter that he's been able to turn around. ... It seems like every time he shows up, he is the guy to beat, and deservedly so."

Scheffler finished in the top seven in each of his past three U.S. Open starts, including a solo third at 7 under at Los Angeles Country Club last season, three strokes behind winner Wyndham Clark.

Scheffler would be the first golfer to win on tour and capture a major the following week since McIlroy at the 2014 PGA Championship.

"I try not to think about the past," Scheffler said. "I try not to think about the future. I try to live in the present. That's how I've always been. I try to be present where I am.

"I try not to overthink things, I try to live one moment at a time and soak it all up because you never know how long it's going to last. Just try and soak up the good times when you can and fight through the bad."