By Ed Osmond
ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) – Scottie Scheffler has quietly moved to the top of the world rankings and is finding out that life is a little different as he bids to continue his stellar year at the British Open.
The 26-year-old American won the Masters and finished tied second at the U.S. Open, making him one of the favourites to lift the Claret Jug at St Andrews on Sunday.
“It’s definitely different when I go out and play practice rounds and there’s people around, and I come in here to do this stuff,” Scheffler told reporters on Wednesday.
“Six months ago I definitely wasn’t asked to come in the press room unless I was winning.
“But it’s a fun different. It’s fun to interact with fans during my practice rounds when things are a little bit lighter. It’s definitely been a good time.”
Scheffler does not feel weighed down by the burden of being the world’s top-ranked golfer.
“I don’t feel like there’s any more pressure on me,” he said. “Being the home of golf and The Open Championship definitely amplifies things a bit. I don’t think it matters if I’m No. 1 in the world or No. 50 in the world, I want to win this tournament as bad or more than anybody out here.”
Scheffler finished tied eighth on his Open debut at Royal St George’s last year and has won four PGA titles since.
“I guess it’s good I am No. 1 in the rankings,” he said. “I’m not sure if I’m necessarily perceived that way by you all, but that’s not stuff that I really ever think about. For me I’m just trying to go out and play good golf.”
Scheffler has enjoyed his practice rounds on the Old Course links.
“It’s a really special place. I can kind of see the history and see how golf was designed to be played hundreds of years ago. So it’s pretty cool to see first hand,” he said.
“I enjoy this style of golf. It’s definitely different than what I’m used to, but I feel like that a skill of mine is to be able to hit all different kinds of shots.”
Scheffler has experienced the notorious Road Hole at St Andrews, the 495-yard par-four regarded as one of the toughest tests in golf.
“It’s pretty funny. You hit over the hotel, and then the green, like it is so small,” he said. “I’m definitely going to do everything in my power to not go in that bunker. It’s so bad down there.”
(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Christian Radnedge)