Only ‘jail cell’ can stop unrivalled star

U.S. Open - Preview Day Two
Scottie Scheffler is the hot favourite for the US Open. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The chasing pack know who they have to beat at the US Open, with Rory McIlroy declaring only “going into a jail cell for an hour” stopped red-hot Scottie Scheffler from winning the PGA Championship amid one of the most stunning golfing runs since Tiger Woods dominated.

A four-time major winner himself, McIlroy, the man who recommended Scheffler move to a mallet putter that has helped him to five wins already in 2024, including a second Masters victory, will play with the world No.1 through the opening two rounds at Pinehurst.

He was among a host of the world’s best challengers asked about Scheffler’s dominance and McIlroy said the American had just become “relentless” in his pursuit of winning amid a raft of off-course issues.

“The fact that the only thing that took him from winning a golf tournament was going into a jail cell for an hour,” McIlroy joked.

“I think just the relentlessness. Look, a lot of stuff went on in his life as well. They’ve just had a new child. He’s been through some struggles in his game, particularly the putter that he’s been able to turn around as well.

“It’s not as if he hasn’t had his challenges along the way, or circumstances have been a little bit different for him. The word that I describe it as is “relentless”. It seems like every time he shows up, he is the guy to beat and deservedly so.”

Scheffler hits Pinehurst after winning the Memorial Tournament last week, having either won or finished top 10 in 12 of 13 events this season, which McIlroy said made him the “the best player in the world at the minute by a long way”.

“It’s up to us to try to get to his level,” he said.

Jon Rahm, who was No.1 before Scheffler and has dropped after his move to LIV Golf, said the comparison to Woods’ dominance had to be made.

“To win five times in a season … and winning the tournaments he’s winning. To win Bay Hill, Players, Masters, RBC and then Memorial, you’re basically replicating a Tiger Woods season,” Rahm said after confirming his withdrawal from the US Open because of a toe issue.

“Every year or every so years, there’s been great ball strikers that come up. But when you start getting compared to Tiger and things that Tiger has done, that’s when you know you are in a level that is quite special.”

Even Xander Schauffele, who won the PGA Championship and will make up the elite trio with Scheffler and McIlroy for the opening two rounds at Pinehurst, conceded it would take “some time” for him to catch the world No.1.

“I think I need some more work to … I obviously believe I can, but Scottie is doing incredible things,” he said.

“Every week we play, he seems to build a bigger lead and somehow make the mountain even taller for all of us to climb. That’s all he’s been doing, and hats off to him for being so consistent and playing at such a high level for such a long time. I believe I can do it, but it’s going to take some time.”

Jason Day will lead a six-man Australian contingent in pursuit of the first US Open win for an Aussie male since Geoff Ogilvy in 2006. He’s joined at Pinehurst by Min Woo Lee, Cameron Smith, Cameron Davis, Adam Scott and Jason Scrivener.



9.18pm: Lucas Glover, Sam Burns, Cameron Smith

10.02pm: Min Woo Lee, Sahith Theegala, Nicolai Højgaard

10.35pm: Austin Eckroat Adrian Meronk Cam Davis


2.30am: Jason Scrivener Brandon Robinson Thompson Brendan Valdes (a)

3.03am: Jason Day Harris English Tom Kim

3.58am: Chris Kirk Billy Horschel Adam Scott