Dominant Scottie Scheffler cruises to Arnold Palmer Invitational win as Wyndham Clark denies cheating

Dominant Scottie Scheffler cruises to Arnold Palmer Invitational win as Wyndham Clark denies cheating - Sports - News

Scottie Scheffler Putting Clinic at Arnold Palmer Invitational: A Six-Shot Victory and a Masterclass in Greens Reading

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler showcased his putting prowess to claim a second Arnold Palmer Invitational title in three years on a sunny Sunday at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Florida. Scheffler, an American golfer, carded a bogey-free, six-under 66 – the joint-lowest round of the week – to pull away from his competitors and finish five shots ahead of compatriot Wyndham Clark.

Scheffler, who had previously expressed disappointment over his putting performance, which saw him go almost a year without securing a PGA Tour victory, was near flawless on the challenging greens. He began the final round tied with Shane Lowry of Ireland and quickly took the lead, sinking a birdie putt from nearly 13 feet at the opening hole. The ‘strokes gained: putting’ metric, which measures a golfer’s putting performance relative to other players and takes into account putt length, saw Scheffler leading the field by 3.892 strokes – the largest margin of victory at the event since Tiger Woods’ triumph in 2012.

With a title defense at The Players Championship looming, Scheffler’s dominance was a worrying sign for his competitors. Wyndham Clark, who finished runner-up, acknowledged the challenge posed by Scheffler: “It would be borderline unfair if he starts putting really good. I never want to wish ill on anybody, but if he starts putting positively each week, it’s going to be really hard to beat.”

Scheffler had come close to winning multiple times since his triumph at TPC Sawgrass last March, finishing runner-up at the PGA Championship and third at the US Open. He had accumulated 17 top-10 finishes across the season, retaining his title as the PGA Tour Player of the Year. The American began the new season with six top-five finishes and maintained a consistent form that left his rivals trailing.

For Rory McIlroy, Scheffler’s impressive play was no surprise: “Anyone can pop up and win an event here or there or get on a good run, but the consistent performances that Scottie’s been putting in week-in and week-out every time he tees it up is incredible.” McIlroy himself finished 14 shots behind Scheffler, tied for 21st.

Scheffler had focused on improving his putting during the offseason. Having previously dedicated time to diet and gym work, he believed the solution might be simpler than he thought: “Part of the problem is just trying too hard.”

The controversy surrounding Wyndham Clark’s final round added intrigue to the event. After an impressive third round, leaving him at nine-under overall, trouble brewed on the 18th hole when his opening drive landed in the rough. The American’s actions were scrutinized as he lined up his club just under the ball for the subsequent shot. Zoomed-in footage appeared to show both the ball and grass move before he pulled his club away to consult with his caddie.

Under the ‘play the course as you find it’ principle in the Rules of Golf, players are allowed to “ground the club lightly right in front of or right behind the ball … allowing the weight of the club to be supported by the grass, soil, sand or other material on or above the ground surface.” However, if a player is deemed to have improved their lie, they can face a two-shot penalty.

Discussions about the incident ensued on broadcasts as rules officials were questioned about whether Clark had breached any regulations. The incident was sent to the PGA Tour’s rules committee, who ultimately cleared Clark of any penalty after determining that the ball “wobbled but returned to its original spot.”

Clark himself remained unaware of the controversy until he was shown video footage in the scoring tent: “I wasn’t trying to do anything like cheating or anything like that, or improve my lie. I just simply put my club down.”