Scottie Scheffler capped off two incredible months with his greatest feat of all, winning the Masters on Sunday to validate his newfound status as golf’s greatest player.
The only hiccup came late when Scheffler needed four putts from 40 feet before he could claim his first major, and that only mattered in the record book.
He closed out a 71-under for a three-shot victory over Rory McIlroy, who holed out from the bunker on the final hole for a record-tying final-round 64 that gave him the briefest moment of hope that Sunday’s pressure at Augusta. National could get to Scheffler.
No possibility. Not on Sunday. Not the last four days. Not the last two months.
And to think it was only 56 days ago that Scheffler was still searching for his first PGA Tour win. The 25-year-old from Dallas, built for stardom since he was 10 and dressed in long pants to look like a pro, now has four wins in his last six tournaments.
No prize was greater than that green jacket.
final classification of #teachers:
1. Scottie Scheffler -10 🏆
two. @McIlroyRory -7
T3. @ShaneLowryGolf -5
T3. cameron smith
5. @Collin_Morikawa -4
T6. @WillZalatoris -3
T8. @JustinThomas34 -one
T8. Sungjae Im
T10. Cameron__Champion E
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 10, 2022
The Sunday theater, exciting and tragic, belonged to everyone else. Scheffler overcame a nervous moment earlier in the round by chipping in for birdie. He threw key putts to keep Cameron Smith at bay and never looked fazed, even when he was hitting short putts late.
McIlroy was the runner-up. It was Smith who felt that he had let one escape. The Aussie was still in the game, three shots off the lead, when he hit his tee shot at Rae’s Creek on the par-3 12th hole for a triple bogey and dashed his hopes.
Smith closed with a 73 and tied for third with Shane Lowry, who birdied the 18th for a 69.
Scheffler joined Ian Woosnam in 1991 as the only players to win a Major, the Masters in both cases, in his debut as World No. 1.
Everyone should have seen this coming. He won the Phoenix Open in a playoff on Super Bowl Sunday. He followed that up with a comeback 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.
Scheffler, who finished 10-under with 278, won $2.7 million of the $15 million prize fund. That brings his total to $8,872,200 in his last six starts.
Scheffler’s big moment came early in the round and was no less significant.
Starting the final round with a three-shot lead, it saw Smith open with two birdies in a row to cut the deficit to one, and then Scheffler’s approach from the pine needles to the left of third fairway fell short and rolled by. slope.
His pitch was racing toward the hole when it hit the pin and dropped for an unlikely birdie, and a two-shot swing when Smith bogeyed from the same position.
No one came closer than three the rest of the way. Only the contenders changed.
The 12th hole is still the most fascinating par 3 in golf, the scene of more collapses than comebacks. Smith became the latest victim.
Coming off birdie at No. 11, his shot was still in the air as he let his club slip through his hands and slowly closed his eyes twice as he splashed into Rae’s Creek. The next shot wasn’t much better, but at least dry, and Smith’s hopes ended there with a triple bogey.
He was three behind standing on the 12th hole. Three holes later, he was eight behind.
From there, any hope lay with McIlroy. All he needed to complete his career Grand Slam was match the best final round in Masters history and get some help from Scheffler. He only got one of those and had to settle for his first silver medal from Augusta.
Not that he hasn’t created some Sunday magic. McIlroy went from bunker to bunker on the 18th hole, coming out to the right of the green and aiming about 25 feet to the right of the pin. He rode up the slope to the hole, causing one of the loudest roars of the week.
Morikawa followed him from the same bunker, from a different angle, and McIlroy could only laugh.
“This tournament never ceases to amaze,” McIlroy said. “That’s the happiest I’ve ever been on a golf course right there. Just getting a chance, and then with Collin, we both played really well all day, and for us both to end up like that, I was really happy for him as well.
“I’ve never heard roars like on the 18th green.”
Scheffler kept the best ones.
Scheffler still has five holes to go, with no evidence that he was going to be anything other than the smooth, savvy operator who took control Friday in the toughest of conditions to build a five-shot lead and never let it go.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS