A Sure-Handed Scheffler Wins Second Green Jacket

Maters champion Scottie Scheffler celebrate at the hole 18 , Masters Championship 2024 Pic by Joel Marklund | Augusta National

Scheffler’s 2022 victory hinged on what happened at the third hole of the final round, when he pitched in for birdie and Cameron Smith, in the final pairing with him, made bogey.

This time, the turning points came a bit later, after Homa had birdied No. 8, putting him in a tie for the lead at 6-under with Scheffler, Aberg and Morikawa, who was in the final pairing with Scheffler.

That’s when his chief competition stumbled, Scheffler got hot, and a tight battle quickly loosened.

Morikawa had the first lapse, making a double bogey on the ninth after an errant drive into the right trees. And he would make another 6 on the 11th, hooking his 5-iron approach into the water.

“I got greedy,” said Morikawa, a two-time major champion who has been searching for that kind of form over the last two years. “Watching Scotty today, I know it’s doable for me, I just have to put the pieces together.”

His costly splashdown followed that of Åberg in the next-to-last pairing. The young Swede had made the same blunder, negating his 36-foot downhill birdie putt on the ninth that had briefly given him the solo lead at 7-under.

Homa’s critical mistake occurred on the par-3 12th, a subtle genius of a hole that seems to always bare sharp teeth in tense final rounds. Homa’s tee shot from 159 yards landed on the green but cruelly one-hopped beyond into vegetation. He had to take an unplayable lie and made a 5.

“It’s bittersweet, I guess, because I feel accomplished something, but feel like it doesn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things,” said Homa, who had his best major finish despite the hiccup. “But I feel like I learned. I feel like I took a big leap. The rhetoric on me, and this is from myself as well, is I have not performed in these things, and I performed for all four days. I didn’t throw a 65 in there and sneak my way in. I had to sleep on this every single day, this feeling and kind of this monkey on my back.”

Maters champion Scottie Scheffler with the crowd pic by Thomas Lovelock | Augusta National

Åberg rallied with birdies at the 13th and 14th to stay within sight of Scheffler and maintain some hope and becoming the first Masters newcomer to win since Fuzzy Zoeller 45 years ago. “Just to be in this situation and feel the nerves and feel the pressure walking down the last couple holes is what you dream of,” said Åberg. “This is what I have been wanting to do for such a long time, and it’s quite surreal to actually have the opportunity to experience it.”

ut the leader wasn’t waffling.

“He was just focused on doing Scotty Scheffler things,” summed up his caddie, Ted Scott, who was alongside Bubba Watson for Masters victories in 2012 and 2014 and has been with Scheffler for nine wins in the last 26 months.

Forty years after Texan Ben Crenshaw birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes of the final round on the way to winning his first Green Jacket, Scheffler, who has lived in the Lone Star State since he was 6 years old, did the same.

On the eighth, Scheffler holed a tricky 10-footer, what he called the “biggest momentum-turner I had.” From 102 yards on No. 9, he nearly spun a wedge into the cup and had a tap-in birdie. At the 10th, where Crenshaw, a legendary putter, sank a 60-footer in 1984, Scheffler’s 3 on the tilted green with the dappled shadows came from nine feet to give him a two-stroke lead.

Maters champion Scottie Scheffler with his caddie Ted Scott pic by Chloe Knott | Augusta National

Less-than-superb putting has at times left him unable to capitalize on his consummate ball-striking in recent months, but work with instructor Phil Kenyon to augment his longtime coach Randy Smith has paid off. This week, particularly on Sunday, Scheffler made the ones that counted. He has had a savvy short game for a long time, dating to his youth in Texas.

“I spent a lot of time around the short game area at Royal Oaks when I was a kid, and there was a lot of pros out there I used to watch and tried to chip and putt with them,” Scheffler recalled this week. “I couldn’t compete with them on the golf course yet, but I felt like could I compete with them on and around the greens. That was always fun for me to get around some of the pros out there when I was a young kid and challenge them to a short game contest. I think I learned from a young age how to chip and chip under pressure.”

Scheffler made a benign bogey on the arduous 11th that had derailed Åberg and Morikawa then negotiated the 12th in safety-first style, avoiding peril with a 9-iron to the left side of the green and two-putting from 49 feet.

“I knew there was birdies out there on the back nine,” Scheffler said. “I had a lot of really talented players trying to chase me down, and I knew pars weren’t going to get it done.”

It was mission accomplished when he two-putted for a birdie-4 at the 13th and hit his approach to two feet for another birdie at 14 before making his fourth birdie of the incoming nine on the 16th after an 8-iron tee shot.

Two years ago, the outcome secure with one hole to play, Scheffler let his concentration lapse, four-putting the final green. Sunday, he chipped close and saved par. “I’m glad I brought down my putting average on 18,” he joked, again having the last laugh.

“My priorities will change very soon,” he said, looking ahead to being a dad. “My son or daughter will now be the main priority, along with my wife, so golf will now be probably fourth in line. But I still love competing. I don’t plan on taking my eye off the ball anytime soon, that’s for sure.”

That is not welcome news for those trying to beat him.

*Credit information www.Masters.com written by Bill Fields