Golf isn’t the identity for No. 1 golfer in the world

How would you answer this question: What defines you as a person?

Is it your career, your personality, your character, how you treat others, your sense of humor, your integrity, your family, your service, your generosity, your money?

When professional golfer Scottie Scheffler, age 27, was asked that question recently, he gave an answer that’s worth hearing. Spoiler alert – it’s not golf, even though Scheffler is currently the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world.

He has won two of the last three Masters Tournaments. Since Jan. 1, 2022, Scheffler has gained nearly 575 strokes against the field. He has been 100 shots better than the second-best player in the world over the last two years — Rory McIlroy.

Since World War II, only Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Seve Ballesteros have won two Masters by age 27. Scheffler is now on that short list.

Before this year’s Masters, Scheffler talked about how he is not defined by his golf score or his success, but rather his Christian faith. When you hear an athlete talk about his faith, maybe your eyes roll, like, “yeah, whatever.” But for Scheffler, his faith is simply his belief system. It’s who he is.

In fact, his Christian faith doesn’t diminish his competitive drive. If anything, it gives him a healthier perspective.

He told his buddies he wishes he didn’t want to win as badly as he did. “But I love winning. I hate losing. I really do,” said Scheffler. “And when you’re here in the biggest moments, when I’m sitting there with the lead on Sunday, I really, really want to win badly.

“And my buddies told me this morning my victory was secure on the cross (of Jesus Christ). And that’s a pretty special feeling to know that I’m secure forever and it doesn’t matter if I win this tournament or lost this tournament. My identity is secure forever.”

He was then asked about how he used his faith on the golf course.

“I believe that today’s plans were already laid out many years ago, and I could do nothing to mess up those plans,” said Scheffler. “I have been given a gift of this talent, and I use it for God’s glory. That’s pretty much it.

“Like I said, my identity is secure already, and I get to come out here and compete, have fun, enjoy it; and then at the end of the day, win or lose, my identity is secure,” said Scheffler.

While Scheffler was competing in the Masters, his wife was expecting the birth of their first child. Scheffler was even prepared to immediately leave the Masters during the tournament, unless the call that his wife was going into labor came after he had started the final round.

Kyle Porter of CBS Sports, wrote: “The freedom Scheffler’s faith provides – allowing him to be secure in himself knowing that’s all that’s required is doing the best he can any given week – is a trait professional golfers strive to achieve through myriad psychological tricks, coaches and techniques.

“That this belief system is built into the best player on the planet is an extraordinary benefit. In fact, it’s among the reasons why he’s the best player on the planet.

“In a sport that pushes the relentless pursuit – more wins, more money, more fame – his worldview of contentment as a Christian, as a husband and as a soon-to-be father is a gift.”

Over time, staying grounded in his faith may be the ultimate challenge, because, as Scheffler noted, “Golf definitely is a selfish sport.”

For now though, he seems very well grounded. As Scheffler said: “This golf tournament does not change my identity. My identity is secure, and I cannot emphasize that enough.”

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