Everything you need to know about the unsung heroes of Scottie Scheffler’s Players win: his body team

On Friday morning, Troy Van Biezen, the director of sports performance and science with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, received an emergency text.

It was from Marnus Marais, the South African-born physical therapist who he handpicked to take over for “his guys,” when he stepped aside this season after 21 years of averaging more than 200 nights a year on the road to provide consistent chiropractic care to Tour pros. His “guys” have included four world No. 1s – Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler – the latter three he passed on to Marais.

The reigning world No. 1 had just finished receiving treatment from Marais on the course during the second round of the Players Championship for what Van Biezen termed a cervical strain to the neck with radiating pain in the right shoulder. Which was way better than Scheffler’s attempt to describe the injury on Sunday night.

“I wouldn’t even really know how to describe it. We can get Marnus up here, and he can explain it a lot better than me, but basically where the joint is, sometimes it kind of locks up in the fascia was the term I think that he used, like the joint muscles around it somehow get stressed,” Scheffler said. “I don’t know; I’m not a doctor.”

Marais has been working with top players for 10 years on the PGA Tour and already had an impressive stable so Scheffler was in good hands. In fact, Marais was in a peculiar position with one of his other clients, Xander Scahuffele, being one of the tournament frontrunners and eventually holding the 54-hole lead. (He finished T-2.) But Van Beizen has worked with Scheffler since he’s 14 years old and Scheffler and Spieth, Si Woo Kim and Tom Kim still work with him and receive treatment when they are at home in Dallas. So the message from Marais after he gave Scheffler treatment said simply, “You got the train going. I’m just trying to keep the train on the tracks.”

“That was a gut-check round,” Van Biezen said of Scheffler’s 69 on Friday despite having trouble turning his neck to the left.

“He couldn’t finish his backswing because that’s where he felt a sharp pain,” Van Biezen said.

2024 Players Championship
2024 Players Championship

Scottie Scheffler celebrates with the trophy after winning during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 17, 2024 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“Curving the ball right to left with longer clubs is very difficult, just because I can’t get fully turned back,” Scheffler explained Saturday. “Overall I’m just using my hands a lot, trying to hit shots, I would describe it as kind of slapping it around out there is kind of what I’m doing. Just using my hands as much as I can, and just trying to slap it around, get it up there somewhere near the green and hopefully get up-and-down or make some putts.”

Scheffler also noted it was difficult to putt because it hurt to rotate his head. Ted Scott, Scheffler’s caddie, said he told his wife on Friday night that he didn’t expect his boss to play on the weekend. “Adrenaline is a crazy thing, Scott said.

Van Biezen may have been busy with his day job tending to the needs of a hockey team that is among the leading contenders for this season’s Stanley Cup, but he also knows the tendencies and movement patterns of Scheffler better than anybody so he was in regular contact with Marais.

“Scottie is a Formula 1 race car and I’m the pit crew chief,” Van Biezen once said. “I’m the guy looking under the hood to see how the engine is running.”

Van Biezen said Scheffler has experienced neck pain before but never during a tournament.

“It’s happened to me in college a few times. Hasn’t happened in a while. It’s just one of those things, it’s unfortunate timing. But outside of that, it’s nothing serious,” Scheffler said, downplaying it as “just a little pain in the neck.”

“Ever wake up with a crick in your neck? When you turn you get that pinch, right? That’s kind of what he was experiencing. It’s happened before, never during play and we’ve always been able to resolve it fairly quickly,” Van Biezen said.

Then he gave another example of a time Scheffler showed his true grit, during the third round of last year’s British Open, despite being in pain.

“A lot of people don’t know this but his back went out on him on the range during the British Open,” Van Biezen said. “He came to me and said, ‘I can’t even bend over to get my shoes off.’ It was cold and wet and that didn’t help the situation. I had 19 minutes to work on him. You can mitigate things pretty quickly.”

Van Biezen and Scheffler both credited Marais with being the unsung, behind-the-scenes hero of Scheffler’s five-stroke comeback victory thanks to a final-round 64 at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday.

“The longer this played out we knew it would get better,” Van Biezen said. “Yesterday, he was able to get to the top of the swing, set the club and square the clubface better, especially off the tee.”

“I’m a pretty competitive guy, and I didn’t want to give up in the tournament. I did what I could to hang around until my neck got better. Today it felt really good,” Scheffler said after his win. “Marnus did a great job getting me going, getting it massaged out, and I was very thankful.”

With Scheffler off this week and headed for home, he texted Van Biezen last night and said, “Hey, can I see you today?”

“Usually we train a bunch in the off weeks but I guess it might just be a recovery-treatment day,” Van Biezen said.

Let the pit crew chief get a week to check under the hood and the world No. 1 should be as good as ever, if he wasn’t already in racing to victory on Sunday.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek