Scheffler outlasts Kim, green intruders for sixth title

Jimmy Golen |

World No.1 Scottie Scheffler has won his sixth tournament of the year.
World No.1 Scottie Scheffler has won his sixth tournament of the year.

Scottie Scheffler had to wait out a climate protest on the 18th green and Tom Kim’s tying birdie on the last hole of regulation.

Those events only delayed what seems to be inevitable on the PGA Tour this season: the best golfer in the world walking off with the trophy.

Shrugging off a protest that interrupted the tournament on the 72nd hole while the leaders were lining up their putts, Scheffler won the Travelers Championship on the first hole of sudden death on Sunday (local time) for his sixth win of the year – the most in one season on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods had six in 2009.

“When something like that happens, you don’t really know what’s happening, so it can kind of rattle you a little bit,” Scheffler said.

“Tom and I both tried to calm each other down so we could give it our best shot there on 18.”

Scheffler closed with a five-under 65 and a 22-under 258 total at the TPC River Highlands, and Kim matched him with a final-round 66.

Tom Hoge and Sungjae Im tied for third, two shots back, with Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas and Akshay Bhatia tied for fifth at 18 under. 

It was Scheffler’s fourth victory of the year in the tour’s $US20 million, limited-field signature events, earning him a payday of $US3.6 million ($A5.4 million). He also won the Masters and The Players Championship.

“As much as I love him, I would have loved to take that away from him,” said Kim, who shares a birthday and a friendship with Scheffler.

“But I’m happy for him, and after I tapped out, after he tapped out, he said some really nice words and it meant a lot to me.”

Scheffler had a one-stroke lead heading to the 18th green when six people stormed the course, waving smoke bombs that left a red and white powdery residue on the putting surface. Some wore white T-shirts with the words “NO GOLF ON A DEAD PLANET”. They were tackled by police and taken off.

The activist group Extinction Rebellion claimed responsibility. 

After a delay of about five minutes, when tournament officials used towels and blowers to remove the powder and any other marks that might affect play, Scheffler left a 26-foot putt from the fringe on the edge of the cup and tapped in for par.

Kim then made a 10-foot birdie putt for a 66 to match Scheffler.

Tom Kim (left) congratulated his birthday buddy Scottie Scheffler.
Tom Kim (left) congratulated his birthday buddy Scottie Scheffler after his playoff victory. (AP PHOTO)

“Obviously it is a disruption and you don’t want it to happen, but for me it just kind of slowed things down,” Kim said. 

“It took the meaning of the putt away for a second. Because for the past 17 and a half holes all you’re thinking about is golf, and suddenly when that happens your mind goes into a complete – like, you’re almost not even playing golf anymore. I thought it was a dream for a second.”

The hole location on the 18th was moved for the playoff to avoid the parts of the green affected by the protesters.

Scheffler hit his approach in the playoff to 11 feet while Kim found a greenside bunker. Kim’s blast from a plugged lie ran 36 feet past the hole, leaving Scheffler with an easy two-putt par for the victory. Afterwards, his wife, Meredith, met him on the green, carrying their six-week-old son, Bennett.

Scheffler and Kim share a June 21 birthday – Scheffler is six years older. The Dallas-area residents played together in the final group on Sunday, chatting and joking around.

But only one of them could hold the trophy at the end.

And just like it’s been so often, it was Scheffler.