Scottie Scheffler certainly doesn’t lack for confidence.
The former University of Texas All-American has never won a tournament in this his rookie season on the PGA Tour, but now finds himself near the top of the leaderboard just one stroke off the lead behind former No. 1 player in the world Dustin Johnson entering Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship.
Despite playing in his first ever PGA and only his fourth major, the 24-year-old from Dallas continued his hot run Saturday for a third straight day and shot himself into contention for the first major of the year with a 5-under par 65 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
Asked if he could win this tournament since he’s yet to have a victory on the tour, Scheffler laughed and said, “Yeah.”
He may often be at a loss for words, but he used precious few strokes on Saturday. He sits at 8-under par, tied with former Texas A&M golfer Cameron Champ, a two-time winner on the tour. Both players are one back of Johnson, who finished second in last year’s championship at Bethpage Black and has won one major at Oakmont in the 2016 U.S. Open.
Right behind them lurks Brooks Koepka at 7-under par as he tries to win a third consecutive PGA.
Scheffler finished his round with a flurry of consecutive birdies on holes 15, 16 and 17, three of his eight on the day. He three-putted twice for bogeys on No. 2 and No. 11.
“That was fun,” Scheffler said on a Zoom interview. “My putter got a little bit cold there on the back nine. I missed an easy one on 14. So it was nice seeing the putt go in on 15, kind of freed me up a little bit. Put myself in good position for tomorrow.”
He did admit to feeling some nerves, but stayed steady with some tremendous drives off the tee and a suddenly hot putter. Of course, so has Johnson, who leads the field in putting after needing just 24 on the day.
Scheffler, who played with former Longhorn Dylan Frittelli — who shot even par 70 to remain at 3-under par — has averaged six birdies a round the first three days and has gotten off to fast starts each round. On Saturday, he sank five birdies in his first eight holes.
“Keeping the big numbers off the scorecard, making sure I miss on the right side of the holes,” Scheffler said. “On a major championship golf course, there’s definitely some spots you can’t get into or it can be very tough to get up and down. If you do get in the wrong place, make sure you get the ball back in position and stay patient.”
Scheffler is long off the tee, but will have to hold his own against Johnson and Champ, two of the bombers on the tour. Johnson has been the best putter in the field but also ranks eighth in driving distrance. Scheffler ranks 16th among the field in strokes gained off the tee and third in putting.