AUGUSTA, Ga. – Scottie Scheffler looked like a Masters champion even before he put on his green jacket, the calm model as he methodically headed to the most stressful course of the big golf championships.
Sunday morning was different. That turned out to be the toughest test he had all day.
“I cried like a baby this morning. I was very stressed. I didn’t know what to do,” Scheffler said after winning his first major. “I was sitting there telling (woman) Meredith, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for that … and I just felt overwhelmed.’
And then he finished his torrid two-month stretch with his biggest feat of all, leading the entire weekend and walking up to a 1 under 71, with a lapse of concentration at the end when it didn’t matter, by three. took the win over Rory McIlroy.
For a young man who has won three of his five previous tournaments, who has reached number 1 in the world, why is he suddenly overwhelmed by doubt?
“I think because it’s the Masters. I dreamed of having a chance to play in this golf tournament. I cried the first time I received my invitation in the mail,” Scheffler said.
“If you’re going to pick a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament,” he said. “You don’t know how many chances you’re going to have. And so, having a chance, I had a five-shot lead on Friday and a three-shot lead today, I don’t know if you have better chances than that. You don’t want to waste them.”
He felt peace between the ropes and never allowed himself to enjoy the moment until he took that famous walk on the green 18, his ball 40 meters and a five-shot lead.
“And you saw the results of that,” his four-putt double bogey said with a laugh that only affected the margin of victory.
McIlroy came out of the bunker in the final hole for a final round of 64. That led to three shots, and his only hope for the final piece of the Grand Slam of the race was that Sunday’s pressure at Augusta National had succeeded. and Scheffler.
Not on Sunday. Not the last four days. Not the last two months.
“You have those hot streaks, and you just have to get them out because, unfortunately, they don’t last forever,” Justin Thomas said. “But he does it in the most important tournaments. … It’s really, really impressive to see someone so young handle such a big moment so easily.”
And to think that 56 days ago, Scheffler was still trying to win his first PGA Tour title. He has now won four of the last six he has contested, the best stretch since Jason Day in the summer of 2015.
Sunday theater, exciting and tragic, was for everyone.
Scheffler overcame a nervous moment at the start of the round by making a birdie. He threw key putts to keep Cameron Smith at bay and never looked stunned, even though he was hitting on short putts in the end.
McIlroy was the runner-up. It was Smith who felt like he was slipping away. The Australian was still in the game, three shots out of the lead, when he threw his 9th iron at Rae’s Creek into the 12 par 3 hole for the bogey triple and ended his hopes.
“Just a very bad change at the wrong time,” Smith said.
Smith finished with a 73 and tied for third with Shane Lowry, who made the birdie on the 18th for a 69th.
Tiger Woods was finishing when Scheffler started, and anyone who left missed a great show. As for Woods, he has found solace playing four rounds in his first tournament since a car accident in February 2021 broke his right leg. He shot 78 and finished with 13 out of 301, his highest score of 72 holes in the Masters and the furthest (23 shots) he finished behind the winner.
Scheffler joined Ian Woosnam in 1991 as the only player to win a major – the Masters in both cases – in his world No. 1 debut.
Everyone should have seen this coming. He won the Phoenix Open in a playoff game on Super Bowl Sunday. He went on to win at Bay Hill to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He rose to No. 1 in the world by winning the Match Play two weeks ago in Texas.
And now this.
“This week has been head and shoulders above everyone else,” McIlroy said.
Scheffler, who finished in 10 under 278, earned $ 2.7 million from the $ 15 million prize pool. That brings the total to $ 8,872,200 in its last six starts.
Scheffler’s great moment came at the start of the round, and it was no less significant.
Starting the final round with a three-shot lead, he saw Smith open with two birds in a row to reduce the deficit to one, and then Scheffler’s approach from the pine needles to the left of the third fairway fell short and rolled down the slope again.
His shot was running toward the hole when he hit the pin and fell for an unlikely birdie, and a two-shot swing when Smith from the same position made bogey.
No one approached more than three the rest of the way. Only the contenders changed.
Hole 12 is still the most fascinating par 3 of golf, the scene of more collapses than ups and downs. Smith became the last victim.
Coming out of the bird at number 11, his shot was still in the air as he let his club escape his hands and slowly closed his eyes twice as he splashed on Rae’s Creek. The next shot wasn’t much better, but at least dry, and Smith’s hopes ended there with a triple bogey.
I was three behind on tee 12. Three holes later, I had eight back.
From there, any hope lay in McIlroy. All he needed to complete the Grand Slam race was to match the best final round in Masters history and get help from Scheffler. He only got one of those and had to settle for his first Augusta silver medal.
It’s not that he didn’t create some Sunday magic. McIlroy went from bunker to bunker in hole 18, coming out to the right of the green and aiming about 25 feet to the right of the flag. He climbed the slope to the hole, causing one of the loudest roars of the week.
Morikawa followed him from the same bunker, different angle, and McIlroy could only laugh.
“This tournament never ceases to amaze,” McIlroy said. “He’s as happy as I’ve ever been on a golf course right there. Just having a chance, and then with Collin, we both played so well all day, and for the two of us to finish like that, I was very happy for him too.
“I’ve never heard roars like in green 18.”
The best were saved for Scheffler.
Scheffler still had five holes in front of him, with no evidence that he was going to be anything other than the smooth, smart operator who took control on Friday in the toughest conditions to build a five-shot lead and never lost it.
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Scheffler gets the green Masters jacket to go with the No. 1 ranking
Source link Scheffler gets the green Masters jacket to go with the No. 1 ranking