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In the mid-1990s, disillusioned by Rosenborg BK’s vice-like grip on domestic football in Norway, a group of physics students at the Norwegian Technical University started a club.

They called it ‘Heia Bortelaget’. Its purpose? To support the away team, every away team, at Rosenborg’s Lerkendal Stadion. With a crest depicting the grim reaper, scythe and all, knocking at the door of ‘RBK’, Heia Bortelaget (literally ‘Come On, Away Team’) adopted pink as its colour, in order to maintain its neutrality, and awarded trophies to the captain of any visiting team that won at the Lerkendal, as well as referees who gave penalties against the home side.

In the beginning, the group had little to cheer. Rosenborg won the Tippeligaen time and time again; by eight points, by 11 points, by 14 points, by 15 points (twice). But they doubled-down and, by the time Valerenga won the title in 2005, stopping Rosenborg’s streak at 13-in-a-row, Heia Bortelaget had more than 3,000 members.

What might, at first blush, seem to be a somewhat vindictive, asinine campaign – besides anything else, actively rooting against something rather than for something else must make for an exhausting existence – Heia Bortelaget is a compelling study on the human condition and how we are programmed to cope with dominance.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we don’t like it. We seem to find it boring, unstimulating, decidedly humdrum. It’s the reason for awful clichés like “variety is the spice of life” and “familiarity breeds contempt”.

Formula 1 fans know what I’m talking about. Hell, Formula 1 drivers know what I’m talking about. Max Verstappen has won the last three world championships and is currently cruising towards a fourth. Of the last 49 grand prix, he has won 38. But whilst he’s picking off podiums, F1 fans are picking their nails.

“The only exciting races have been the ones that Max is not in,” said fellow driver Lando Norris last week. “If you see the same driver winning every single time without a fight then of course it does start to become boring and that is obvious.”

Golf, and golfers, can surely relate.

In a sport where you lose more often than you win, Scottie Scheffler is laying waste to logic with imperious style. Thanks to his victory in the RBC Heritage, the 27-year-old Texan has now won four of his last five events, a streak that comprises The Masters, The PLAYERS and two signature events – a long-winded way of saying his success has been at the expense of the very best players in the game.

Indeed, each of his last seven wins have come against fields that featured at least eight of the world’s top-10.

But for an epic brain fart at the Texas Children’s Houston Open, he’d be on a five-event winning streak, the kind of purple patch bested only by Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods (twice).

And yet his success isn’t resonating the way you might expect. It’s admired, sure. Appreciated, no doubt. But it’s not stimulating golf fans. Not in the way it should.

Part of the problem, if that’s even the right word, is Scheffler. He’s pathologically stoic. His composure is his armour, his routine robotically repeatable: hit ball, find ball, hit ball again. He seldom misses a fairway, almost never misses a green and, since he started working with the doyen of putting Phil Kenyon, is converting significantly more putts. He does everything well and without breaking sweat. He has squeegeed the drama from some of the most anticipated events of the year and without so much as an apology, dammit.

His Ryder Cup teammate Justin Thomas had this to say after watching him cruise into the 36-hole lead at the RBC Heritage:

“This is not an insult or disrespect in any way, [but] it’s boring golf. He hits the fairways, he hits the greens. He never puts himself in a position to make very many bogeys. He takes advantage of the par-5s. He just does all the things that you should do and all the all the things that great players do when they’re playing well.”

Sure, but the Richter scale of public opinion has barely twitched. TV ratings for the Arnold Palmer Invitational? Down 15% on 2023. The PLAYERS Championship? Down 10%. The Masters? Down 20%. The RBC Heritage? We’ll find out soon enough but you can hazard a guess.

It seems that being good is great but being great is bad (unless your name is Nelly Korda, funnily enough, whose concurrent dominance of the women’s game is being received with far more awe and generosity than Scheffler’s).

Of course, Tiger Woods dominated – for longer and more emphatically – and nobody seemed to mind. But there are differences. For one, Woods possessed cultural resonance that Scheffler does not. There’s little-to-no interest beyond the sport in what Scheffler is doing. Woods celebrated his achievements with demonstrable gusto and fist-pumps galore, whereas Scheffler smiles, takes off his cap and goes again. He also appears to have a clean-cut, wholesome lifestyle. It’s hard to imagine him having a controversial thought, far less acting on it. Woods? Well, he’s had… issues on this front.

And to whatever degree this is relevant, social media wasn’t a ‘thing’ at the peak of Woods’ powers. There was nowhere for the disgruntled to congregate. There is now. From X to Facebook to Reddit and more, there is plenty space for “Scottie Is Boring” stans to convene and convince themselves that their little echo chamber is representative of the consensus. A quick scan of any social media platform simply reinforces the suspicion that Scottie’s superiority is being met by some with a shrug and a ‘so what?’.

Not that any of this should concern Scheffler. Like Roger Federer, Sidney Crosby, Jimmie Johnson, Lionel Messi and countless others before him, he’s just quietly, brilliantly going about his business. Against all odds, and in relatively short order, his success has become predictable in the most unpredictable of sports. Whatever else might be going on in the bin-fire of men’s professional golf right now, the one constant and certainty seems to be a sub-par Scheffler score. That’s an extraordinary thing and should be celebrated, no?

Alas, the noes have it. Conjecture about how much greener the grass might be rampages on. Satisfaction continues to exist somewhere beyond our fingertips. We’re never happy, are we?

“Entertain us!” we demand.

“Just smile!” we insist.

“Play worse!” we hope.

All the while, generational brilliance unfolds before our eyes.

We sigh.

We mope.

We turn off.

We form clubs to support Everybody Else.

“Heia Bortelaget!” we cry, and cry, and cry.

The fools that we are.

Michael McEwan is the 2023 PPA Scotland ‘Columnist of the Year’ and ‘Writer of the Year’

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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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