AUGUSTA, GEORGIA | I don’t know if there has ever been anything quite as meteoric as Scottie Scheffler’s ascension from maiden PGA Tour winner to No. 1 in the world to Masters champion in 57 days. It seems like only yesterday we were debating whether a guy who’d never won professionally deserved a captain’s pick at the Ryder Cup.
The way Scheffler beat back every challenge – including his own self-doubts that led him to tears in the privacy of his rented Augusta home on Sunday morning – was remarkable. Just when you thought Cam Smith or Rory McIlroy or Augusta National or the moment itself would expose some flaw in the 25-year-old Texan, he stepped up and delivered.
How nice it must be to be able to four-jack the final green and slip on a green jacket.
There should be no more doubts from anyone, including Scheffler, that he’s simply the best player in the world right now. Nobody can win every week, not even Tiger Woods at his peak, but Scheffler has come as close to perfection as anyone can in the last two months.
The unflappable winner wasn’t the only player to walk away from Augusta National feeling like a champion:
BIRDIE: Tiger Woods. Of course he ran out of gas on the weekend, but that he made it that far at all is arguably the most remarkable story of this Masters. Woods’ first labored and painful steps back into competitive golf has us all dreaming again.
BIRDIE: Rory McIlroy. Maybe no runner-up has ever been giddier than the Northern Irishman. His record-tying Sunday 64 capped by a bunker hole-out birdie and its subsequent eruption may have been the spark that truly revitalizes McIlroy’s career slam quest next April and his major drive this summer.
BIRDIE: Shane Lowry. Lowry may stew over a slew of wedges in Thursday’s and Saturday’s rounds and the triple bogey on No. 4 Sunday that sabotaged his best chance to win a green jacket, but the way he fought back to tie for third showed what he’s made of.
BIRDIE: Collin Morikawa. His celebration of McIlroy’s finishing hole-out was rewarded by one of his own from the same bunker to finish solo fifth. Those highlights of good people having good things happen to them will be replayed forever.
OTHER: Cam Smith. It was a wild roller-coaster ride for the Players champ, who gave it one helluva go but suffered too many others like the bookend doubles on Thursday to the triple on No. 12 Sunday to close the deal. The Mullet will be back.
BIRDIE: Will Zalatoris. The youngster backed up his shocking runner-up finish as a rookie with a Sunday 67 that vaulted him to a T6 this time. There are shades of Jordan Spieth in the way he seems preternaturally comfortable at Augusta National.
BIRDIE: Bubba Watson. If you thought his hooked wedge from the trees to win the 2012 Masters playoff was a magic trick, wait ‘til you see his Houdini act to escape the same wooded grove just up the hill on No. 18.
What you can see is me in the trees on 18, but what you can’t see is my ball resting on a stick 2” off the ground and a 4-5’ opening basically straight up… 183 to the hole so I go PW as high as I can hit it. Turned out alright!
…did I mention I was right next to 10? 😉 #masters pic.twitter.com/Pjd9G8CiLK
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) April 8, 2022
TRIPLE: Jordan Spieth. He hit two balls in the water again at No. 12, this time taking triple bogey. Needing par at the last to avoid missing his first Masters cut in nine career starts, the 2015 champ made double instead.
BIRDIE: Hideki Matsuyama. His Champions Dinner menu that included sushi and Wagyu beef was universally lauded as the best fare ever offered to golf’s most prestigious club. His three-minute speech, nervously but precisely delivered in English to his peers, was equally praised.
BOGEY: Amateurs. None of the six in the field made the cut, with Keita Nakajima and Austin Greaser tying for closest to the cutline at 7-over. Seven of their combined 12 rounds were 79 or higher and none better than par.
BIRDIE: Dan LaSure Sr. The 89-year-old Augustan attended his 70th consecutive Masters since 1952. “I’ve gone over 50 years without missing a single (tournament) day,” he told the Augusta Chronicle. “Sometimes I would come seven days in a row. I love the place. It’s like being in paradise.”
BOGEY: Talor Gooch. Masters rookie showed up Sunday on the practice range in shorts and talking on his cell phone. After a brief conversation with someone in a green jacket, Gooch was soon wearing rain pants.
BOGEY: Billy Horschel. A year after issuing an apology for repeatedly slamming his clubs and “crossing the line,” Horschel’s fiery nature got the best of him again and he flung his iron down in anger on No. 11 on Saturday.
WD: Jeff Knox. The longtime non-competing amateur marker, who beat the likes of Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and others through the years when an odd number made the cut, was retired from the job. While he wasn’t needed this year, the new marker will be club member Michael McDermott of Philadelphia.
WD: Larry Mize. Another local Augusta legend, who won the 1987 Masters playoff with his iconic chip-in birdie on No. 11, will step off the competitive stage and retire to the Champions Dinner from now on. Mize, 63, made recent cuts at age 55, 57 and 58.
BOGEY: Augusta Chronicle. Decimated by constant staff and cost-cutting since it was sold by Billy Morris, the local paper’s Masters coverage is a shell of its former self. Saturday, April 9, 2022, was the first tournament day in Masters history without a print edition.
BIRDIE: Tom Watson. The two-time Masters and eight-time major winner humbly accepted his place as an honorary starter, lauding the tradition and claiming he didn’t belong with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. He even more graciously declined comment regarding the doghouse Phil Mickelson is in.
BOGEY: Georgia Peach ice cream sandwiches. Citing “supply-chain issues,” the wildly popular frozen Masters treat was a no-show at the 2022 Masters. Mickelson’s absence was not remotely as disappointing to grieving patrons.
DQ: Dude Perfect. If Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley uttering the words “the Dude Perfect guys” in his annual Q&A session wasn’t a sign of the apocalypse, then surely ANGC allowing them to bring toys to film playing around in Amen Corner signifies some kind of a paradigm shift.
All Sports Golf Battle at AUGUSTA NATIONAL?! ⛳️🤯🎾🥏🎱 (Yes…for real.) Watch us take on the iconic Amen Corner with @b_dechambeau! HUGE thanks to @TheMasters for the opportunity of a lifetime!https://t.co/OCk3YrYPNN pic.twitter.com/ounsfLlFKO
— Dude Perfect (@DudePerfect) April 2, 2022
BIRDIE: Ted Scott. Scheffler said he leaned heavily on his caddie’s intimate knowledge of Augusta National. Scott, who met Scheffler at PGA Tour Bible study, won two Masters with Bubba Watson.
BOGEY: Brooks Koepka. He was among the leaders at 2 under through his first nine. From there he went 8 over with only one more birdie in the next 27 holes to hit the exit on Washington Road before the weekend. He’s won only once in Phoenix (2021) since 2019.
BIRDIE: Waffle House. If you were craving a “batter-colored,” waffle-patterned golf shoe with the iconic Georgia-based restaurant chain’s familiar yellow sign on the heel, Adidas has you scattered, smothered and covered with its limited-edition Tour360 22.
BOGEY: Gary Player. A year after his son was banished for crassly shilling commercial interests on camera during the honorary starters ceremony, Player himself showed up brandishing the Golf Saudi logo prominently on his collar. Read the room, Mr. Player.
BOGEY: Bryson DeChambeau. Since he famously claimed that par for him at Augusta is 67 in 2020, he’s “62 over” his par in three Masters. He shot “22 over” this week and trudged home after a second-round 80.
PAR: Sandy Lyle. The Scotsman announced that his 101st major start next April will be his last. Aside from his wins at 1985 British Open and 1988 Masters, Lyle only had two other top-10 finishes in his 100 majors.
BOGEY: Gold medalists. Male Olympic winners Xander Schauffele (2021) and Justin Rose (2016) both missed the cut. Female medalist Nelly Korda (2021) was unavailable to receive her player-of-the-year award at the GWAA banquet.
BIRDIE: Anna Davis. With her bucket hat, smooth lefty swing and easy poise, the 16-year-old Californian was an unlikely yet popular winner of the third Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
BOGEY: ANWA cut-offs. It’s understandable that Augusta wants to fit the final round in a precise TV window and doesn’t want to risk a slew of ties cluttering the course, but the hard-cut to 30 players has every year resulted in a tense playoff that leaves players shattered.
Top: Masters champion Scottie Scheffler receives a green jacket from Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama. (Photo Sam Greenwood, Augusta National)
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