GOLF

Scottie Scheffler unstoppable and wins another Masters green jacket

Apr 14, 2024, 7:41 PM

Jon Rahm, of Spain, puts the green jacket on winner Scottie Scheffler after the Masters golf tourna...

Jon Rahm, of Spain, puts the green jacket on winner Scottie Scheffler after the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler spent more time looking at his feet than any of the white leaderboards at Augusta National, all of them showing what everyone was watching — a Masters champion again, the undisputed best player in golf.

He prefers to stay in his own little world, population one.

Nobody is close to him in the game at the moment.

Scheffler is No. 1 in the world by a margin not seen since Tiger Woods in his prime. In nine tournaments this year, he doesn’t have a round over par and has earned over $15 million. And on Sunday, he delivered the greatest piece of evidence when he slipped into that green jacket.

Scheffler pulled ahead with magnificent shots around the turn, poured it on along the back nine as his challengers melted away with mistakes and closed with a 4-under 68 to claim his second Masters in three years with a four-shot victory.

“I had a lot of really talented players trying to chase me down, and I knew pars weren’t going to get it done,” Scheffler said.

Unlike two years ago when he won his first major, there were no doubts Sunday morning, no tears, and no wife to reassure him he was built for a moment like this. His wife, Meredith, was home in Dallas expecting their first child at the end of the month.

Scheffler made sure there was no drama, either.

Much like Woods he made the outcome look inevitable with sublime control, the difference being a peach shirt instead of Sunday red, and no fist pumps until it was over.

After sharing hugs with caddie Ted Scott and Collin Morikawa, Scheffler turned to face the crowd with both arms raised. “WOOOOOO!” he yelled, slamming his fist.

Masters newcomer Ludvig Aberg, among four players who had a share of the lead at one point, lost ground with his approach went into the pond left of the 11th hole and he made double bogey. Against a player like Scheffler, those mistakes are not easy to overcome.

Aberg closed with a 69 and was the runner-up, not a bad debut for someone playing in his first major championship.

Morikawa, who had two double bogeys to fall out of the hunt, shot 74 and tied for third with Tommy Fleetwood (69) and Max Homa (73), whose hopes ended on the par-3 12th with a double bogey from the bushes, not Rae’s Creek.

“He is pretty amazing at letting things roll off his back and stepping up to very difficult golf shots and treating them like their own,” Homa said about Scheffler. “He’s obviously a tremendous talent, but I think that is his superpower.”

Woods, meanwhile, closed with a 77 and finished in last place at 16-over 304, the highest 72-hole score of his career. This came two days after he set the Masters record for making his 24th consecutive cut.

The 27-year-old Scheffler is the fourth-youngest player to have two green jackets. He now has three victories against the strongest fields — Bay Hill, The Players Championship and the Masters — in his last four starts. The other was a runner-up finish in Houston.

Scheffler finished at 11-under 277 and earned $3.6 million from the $20 million purse.

Perhaps even more daunting for the rest of golf is that Scheffler now has 10 victories worldwide dating to his first PGA Tour title at the Phoenix Open just two years and two months ago.

During that stretch, Scheffler has finished in the top 10 a staggering 65% of the time.

It was the fourth straight Masters when the winner came to the 18th green with one arm in the green jacket. That doesn’t mean Sunday was a walk in golf’s most gorgeous garden.

“I felt like I was battling the whole week,” Scheffler said. “It was a long week. I had to battle some ups and downs. And, you know, I’m very fortunate to be sitting here with you.”

Four players had a share of the lead at various points along the front nine, and then Scheffler began to assert himself with three straight birdies around the turn.

He got up-and-down with a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-5 eighth. He hit the perfect wedge that caught the ridge and came inches within going in on No. 9, leaving him a tap-in birdie. And then he holed another 10-foot birdie putt on the 10th to build a two-shot lead.

“I hadn’t hit many good iron shots, which is a bit unusual for me,” Scheffler said. “And going into No. 9, it was nice to get that feeling of hitting a really well-struck shot and then it set me up to have a really nice back nine.”

And then, just like in the best days of Woods, he let everyone else make the big numbers.

In the group ahead, Aberg’s approach to the 11th slammed off the bank and into the water, leading to double bogey.

Homa managed a tough par on the 11th, only to hit it so long over the par-3 12th the golf ball plunged deep into bushes and left him no choice but to take a penalty drop. His chip didn’t reach the green, and two putts later he had double bogey.

Morikawa already had begun to slide by taking two shots to get out of a deep bunker left of the ninth green for double bogey. He all but sealed his fate with a shot into the water on the 11th and took double bogey.

Aberg was the only one who battled back, and Scheffler kept answering with birdies. He hit the 13th green in two and two-putted for birdie. His approach to the 14th hit the slope toward the back and rolled down to a foot from the pin.

His final birdie came from just inside 10 feet on the 16th.

Defending champion Jon Rahm, now with Saudi-funded LIV Golf, closed with a 76 and tied for 45th, 20 shots behind Scheffler. He was in Butler Cabin to help Scheffler into the green jacket.

Rahm had not faced Scheffler all year and witnessed what the PGA Tour players are up against each week. His tee-to-green play is reminiscent of Woods, though certainly not the emotion, the worldwide appeal or the number of victories.

Scheffler’s emotions came when he thought about the next prize.

“You’re about to make me cry here in Butler Cabin,” Scheffler said when asked about the impending birth. “It’s a very special time for both of us. I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again. I really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time. I’m looking forward to getting home and celebrating with Meredith.

“Its been a long week here without her, but I’m just looking forward to getting home.”

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