Hot Scottie: Scheffler rules Masters

Scottie Scheffler joined Ian Woosnam in 1991 as the only players to win a major — the Masters in both cases — in their debuts at No. 1 in the world.

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Scottie Scheffler is awarded the green jacket by 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Scottie Scheffler looked like a Masters champion even before he slipped into his green jacket, the model of calm as he methodically worked his way around the most stressful course in major championship golf.

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 so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do,” Scheffler said after winning his first major. “I was sitting there telling [wife] Meredith, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this,’ and I just felt overwhelmed.”

And then he capped off his torrid two-month stretch with his grandest feat, leading the entire weekend and strolling to a 1-under 71 — with one lapse in concentration at the end when it didn’t matter — for a three-shot win over Rory McIlroy.

For a guy who had won three of his previous five tournaments, who reached No. 1 in the world, why suddenly be overcome with doubt?

“I think because it’s the Masters,’’ Scheffler said. ‘‘I dreamed of having a chance to play in this golf tournament. I teared up the first time I got my invitation in the mail. 

“If you’re going to choose a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament. You don’t know how many chances you’re going to get. And so having a chance — I had a five-shot lead on Friday and then a three-shot lead going into today — I don’t know if you get better opportunities than that. You don’t want to waste them.”

Scheffler, 25, felt peace between the ropes and never allowed himself to enjoy the moment until he took that walk up the 18th green, his ball 40 feet away with a five-shot lead.

“And you saw the results of that,” he said with a laugh at his four-putt double bogey that only affected the margin of victory.

McIlroy holed out from the bunker on the final hole for a record-tying final round of 64. That pulled him within three shots, and his only hope for the final piece of the career Grand Slam was for the Sunday pressure at Augusta National to get to Scheffler.

No chance. 

Not on Sunday. Not the last four days. Not the last two months.

“You get on those hot streaks, and you just got to ride them out because they, unfortunately, don’t last forever,” Justin Thomas said. “But he is doing it in the biggest tournaments. . . . It’s really, really impressive to see someone that young handle a moment this big so easily.”

And to think that 56 days ago, Scheffler was still trying to win his first PGA Tour title. Now he has won four of the last six he has played, the best stretch since Jason Day in the summer of 2015.

The Sunday theater, thrilling and tragic, belonged to everyone else. 

Scheffler overcame a nervous moment early by chipping in for birdie. He delivered key putts to keep Cameron Smith at bay and never looked rattled, even as he was swatting at short putts at the end.

Smith felt as though he let one get away. The Aussie was still in the game, three shots out of the lead, when he dumped his 9-iron in Rae’s Creek on the par-3 12th hole for triple bogey and ended his hopes.

“Just a really bad swing at the wrong time,” Smith said.

Smith closed with a 73 and tied for third with Shane Lowry, who birdied the 18th for a 69.

As for Tiger Woods, he found consolation in playing four rounds in his first tournament since a February 2021 car crash shattered his right leg. He shot 78 and finished at 13-over 301, his highest 72-hole score at the Masters and furthest (23 shots) he ever finished behind the winner.

Scheffler joined Ian Woosnam in 1991 as the only players to win a major — the Masters in both cases — in their debuts at No. 1 in the world.

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