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Scottie Scheffler last played the Valero hoping to get a Tour card; now he's expected to win it

Tim Schmitt
Golfweek
Scottie Scheffler drives from the No. 5 tee during a semifinal round match at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship tournament Sunday. The former Texas star lost in the final to Billy Horschel.

SAN ANTONIO — Twenty-four months. That's how long ago a wide-eyed Scottie Scheffler stepped to the first tee at TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course, hoping to earn his PGA Tour card.

To say the expectations surrounding the former Texas star have changed a wee bit in that time frame is an understatement.

Coming off a stellar performance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in which he reached the final before falling to Billy Horschel, Scheffler has made his way to this week's Valero Texas Open as one of the betting favorites, with his odds to win the event trailing only those of fellow Longhorn Jordan Spieth.

Not bad for a guy who was simply hoping to become a regular two short years ago.

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"I think it's awesome people have that confidence in me, I definitely have always had that confidence in myself," Scheffler said on Tuesday. "It's definitely a little strange coming from — I think I played this event in 2019 when I was playing on the Web and I was just hoping to get my Tour card — and so just to have the opportunity to play in this event was awesome.

"Now, just playing a full schedule and coming out here with my game in pretty good shape, I definitely expect myself to be there late on Sunday with a chance to win."

The last time Scheffler appeared at the Valero, his game was on an upswing, arriving just days after a second-place finish at the then-Web.com Tour's Savannah Golf Championship. Scheffler played the Valero on a sponsor's exemption, but using a 68 on Friday he made the cut and then played solidly in finishing the event at 9 under, good enough to tie for 20th.

The payday was, at the time, his largest on the PGA Tour at $90,500. To put that in perspective, for placing second in Austin last week he received $1,150,000.

And it's not just Scheffler's bank account that's grown, it's also his stature among Tour players. Where Scheffler was simply a big, strong Texas prodigy the last time he came to San Antonio, he's already earned the respect of others.

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Finishing fourth in his FedEx Cup playoff debut and jumping to No. 22 in the Official World Golf Ranking tends to do that for a guy.

Texas golfer Scottie Scheffler plays his shot to the green during the 2017 season. Scheffler rose to No. 22 in the world golf rankings with his runner-up finish at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament this past weekend.

"It definitely feels a little bit different when you have proven yourself a little bit and I've kind of moved my way up in the world rankings, moved my way up in the FedEx Cup. I had a good finish in the FedEx Cup last year," Scheffler said. "So I think the sense is definitely a little bit different in that I feel more like I belong with those guys, I'm not really on the outside looking in.

"But there are a lot of guys out here that have won a lot of big tournaments and I'm still looking to do that as well, so in that sense I'm still on the outside looking in."

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Win or lose this week, Scheffler is eager to take another crack at a Texas event, especially after the overwhelming support he received last week at Austin Country Club.

"I don't know if it necessarily gives us an advantage, but I love being able to play in our home state. I think it's great. I love being here in Texas, the food is great, people are great, crowds are wonderful," Scheffler said. "So for me, if there's an event in Texas, as long as it somewhat fits in my schedule, I'm going to work it in somehow.

"I mean, I love playing in our home state. I would say just as an excitement factor, I'm sure it's an advantage for us just getting amped up to play in the home state."