Scottie Scheffler Wins His First Masters Championship

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It might have been comprehensible if Scottie Scheffler, who has been the paragon of poise as he charged to the No. 1 rating in males’s golf this yr, felt only a bit unnerved throughout the first hour of Sunday’s last spherical of the Masters Match. The three-stroke lead he held over his closest pursuer, Cameron Smith, when the day started had shrunk to a single stroke within the opening two holes.

Worse for Scheffler, on the par-4 third gap, he yanked his tee shot into the bushes then did not get a pitch onto the elevated inexperienced, along with his ball trundling backward right into a dicey spot beneath the placing floor.

Would it not take solely three holes for Smith to catch Scheffler? Was the sometimes tranquil Scheffler, along with his everyman nonchalance, about to wilt beneath the strain?

Anybody who has been being attentive to this yr’s PGA Tour, a circuit Scheffler has dominated since February, may need been in a position to predict what occurred subsequent. Scheffler took a daring, aggressive line and confidently knocked a chip into the outlet for birdie. Smith would make bogey.

Over the following a number of hours, Scheffler, 25, rebuffed each problem with the identical aplomb to say his first main championship, working away with the 2022 Masters to win by three strokes. His margin of victory would have been bigger however for a last present of some nerves throughout the event’s closing sequence on the 18th inexperienced, when Scheffler wanted 4 putts, together with three from lower than 5 ft, to shut out a spherical of 71. Scheffler completed 10 beneath par for the event, in simply his third Masters look.

Rory McIlroy, who trailed Scheffler by 10 strokes heading into the ultimate spherical, completed second after an eight-under-par 64. Smith and Shane Lowry tied for third, 5 strokes off the lead.

For Scheffler, a New Jersey native who was raised in Texas, it was the fourth tour victory in his final six occasions, a surprising win share in a sport with event fields of greater than 100 gamers.

In February, Scheffler gained the Phoenix Open. A couple of weeks later, he completed first on the Arnold Palmer Invitational and, late final month, he gained a World Golf Championships Match Play occasion. From the primary win, it took Scheffler solely 42 days to ascend to the No. 1 rating.

Regardless of his current successes, Scheffler has remained one thing of an unknown to informal sports activities followers as a result of he had not gained a tour occasion earlier than this yr. However there have been indicators final season that Scheffler was starting to search out his rhythm on the higher stage of males’s aggressive golf. Within the final three majors of that season, he completed tied for eighth on the British Open, tied for seventh on the U.S. Open and tied for eighth on the P.G.A. Championship.

Scheffler, like Smith, is considered one of a brand new technology of youthful golfers who’re changing into frequent tour winners. The highest seven golfers within the males’s world golf rankings are 30 or youthful.

McIlroy, who has gained each main golf championship besides the Masters, was not anticipated to be a part of the late-round heroics on Sunday. He had damaged par in solely considered one of his first three rounds. However with birdies on two of his first three holes, McIlroy instantly seemed extra snug than he had in any current last spherical on the Masters. He shot a four-under 32 in his first 9 holes, then roared onto the again 9 with birdies on the tenth gap and an eagle on the par-5 thirteenth, which moved him to 6 beneath par — simply 4 strokes behind Scheffler, who was enjoying a number of teams behind McIlroy.

McIlroy continued his sizzling streak with three consecutive pars however did not capitalize on the par-5 fifteenth gap, which is commonly reachable in two pictures. As an alternative, McIlroy settled for par, a rating he additionally made on the sixteenth and seventeenth holes.

However McIlroy had a final, unexpected flourish. He despatched his method shot to the 18th inexperienced right into a bunker to the proper of it, however then lofted a splash from the sand onto the placing floor and watched the ball traverse a swale alongside the inexperienced and eventually sink into the cup for a birdie.

McIlroy, who has not had a lot to have a good time within the closing moments of a Masters, flung his wedge into the sand and thrust each arms over his head.

A couple of minutes after McIlroy holed his bunker shot, his enjoying companion, Collin Morikawa, blasted from the identical hazard and sank his shot. The 2 left the inexperienced space arm in arm.

Whereas McIlroy was surging, Smith additionally made one other run at Scheffler with a birdie on the eleventh gap that stored Scheffler’s result in three strokes. Subsequent up was the pivotal and devilish par-3 Twelfth gap, the place the event is commonly determined and the place event leaders for many years have seen their title goals drown within the gap’s small however harmful water hazard.

Smith had the honors on the tee, which he ascended earlier than Scheffler. He appeared keen to use strain. However Smith’s 9-iron light off the clubface instantly and was caught within the fickle winds that swirl round Amen Nook. Smith dipped his head in disappointment simply as his golf ball plunked in Rae’s Creek in entrance of the inexperienced — to the proper of the flag, which is the most typical spot for a failed Twelfth-hole tee shot on a tense Masters Sunday.

Scheffler missed the inexperienced, however he stored his tee shot dry after which chipped to inside 10 ft earlier than sinking a nervy par putt. Smith made a triple bogey and slid effectively down the leaderboard. Scheffler later prolonged his lead over Smith and McIlroy with a birdie on the 14th gap that was arrange by a spectacular method shot. Then, on the par-5 fifteenth gap, Scheffler rifled his second shot round a grove of pine bushes to clear the pond fronting the inexperienced and arrange a last birdie.

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