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Rory: Jail cell only thing keeping Scottie from winning

Cliff Hawkins / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Scottie Scheffler's dominance in the 2024 calendar season has been reminiscent of peak Tiger Woods, with the World No. 1 ripping off five wins and opening a massive gulf between himself and the rest of professional golf.

Since winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the beginning of March, Scheffler has either hoisted the trophy or finished runner-up at every event he's played outside of an eighth-place showing at the PGA Championship.

The reason for that "disappointing" finish: Scheffler's unfortunate arrest before Round 2 for a traffic misunderstanding. That incident was at the forefront of Rory McIlroy's mind when asked what's been most impressive about the run the 27-year-old is on.

"The fact that the only thing that took him from winning a golf tournament was going into a jail cell for an hour," McIlroy said with a laugh during his U.S. Open press conference Tuesday. "I think just the relentlessness. A lot of stuff just went down 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."

McIlroy has been on brilliant runs of form previously in his career but admitted he's never touched the current string Scheffler has put together. The current World No. 3 is just two spots behind Scheffler in the ranking, but the points gap between the two is the same as it is between McIlroy and No. 613 Anthony Quayle, according to Kyle Porter of CBS Sports.

"It seems like every time he shows up, he's the guy to beat, and deservedly so," McIlroy said. "This run that he's been on - I think he's played 14, 13 times this year and only once out of the top 10. It seems like he's always in contention.

"The most exciting thing about last week at Memorial was when he made the triple (bogey) on 9. Everyone was like, 'Oh, looks like he might let people in here,' but he finds a way to steady the ship, make a few birdies when he needs to. Undoubtedly the best player in the world at the minute by a long way."

McIlroy wasn't the only player to gush about Scheffler during Tuesday's press availability. Former World No. 1 Jon Rahm offered some lofty comparisons for the two-time Masters champ.

"It's quite incredible to see what he's been able to accomplish," Rahm said. "Every year, 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're at a level that is quite special.

"To win five times in a season - that was his fifth win, yeah? To win the tournament he's winning - to win Bay Hill, Players, Masters, RBC. and then Memorial, you're basically replicating a Tiger Woods season."

With odds of just 3-1 to win this week, Scheffler is the shortest betting favorite at a major since Woods in 2009. Should he claim victory at Pinehurst, he will join Woods and Jordan Spieth as the only golfers since 1971 to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year.

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