Scottie Scheffler claims second Masters title in three years

By Sports Desk April 14, 2024

Scottie Scheffler fully justified his status as pre-tournament favourite with a nerveless second Masters title in the space of three years at Augusta National.

The world number one carded a closing 68 to finish 11 under par and four shots clear of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, with England’s Tommy Fleetwood, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa and Max Homa three strokes further back.

Scheffler held his nerve as his rivals stumbled around Amen Corner and responded magnificently when Aberg kept the pressure on, the 24-year-old again demonstrating his enormous potential on his major debut.

Aberg only turned professional in June last year, but quickly won on the DP World Tour, helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome – including a 9&7 win with Viktor Hovland over Scheffler and Brooks Koepka – and also tasted victory on the PGA Tour before the end of the season.

Scheffler has been in equally brilliant form in 2024, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots and becoming the first player to secure back-to-back Players Championship titles seven days later.

That meant the 27-year-old had been made favourite for the Masters at the the kind of odds previously only offered for peak-era Tiger Woods and he duly took a one-shot lead into the final round.

A birdie on the third quickly doubled that advantage, but dropped shots on the fourth and seventh left Scheffler in a three-way tie for the lead with playing partner Morikawa and Aberg.

Homa’s birdie on the eighth made it a four-way tie, but dramatic and decisive changes were just around the corner.

Scheffler was inches away from spinning his approach to the ninth into the hole for an eagle and tapped in for the easiest of birdies, while Morikawa took two to escape from a greenside bunker to run up a double bogey.

Scheffler also birdied the 10th and was gifted some welcome breathing space when Aberg pulled his second to the 11th into the water to card a costly double bogey, an error repeated minutes later by Morikawa.

Scheffler failed to take full advantage as he also dropped a shot, but then saw another contender fall away as Homa was forced to take a penalty drop from bushes behind the 12th green.

Aberg refused to throw in the towel and birdied the 13th and 14th to seemingly keep the pressure on, only for the unflappable Scheffler to birdie the same holes, his approach to the 14th spinning down to tap-in range.

Another birdie on the 16th put the result beyond doubt and unlike in 2022, this time there would be no careless four putts on the 18th green.

Woods had finished his round an hour before the final pairing of Scheffler and Morikawa teed off, his 100th round at the Masters beginning after enlisting the help of his son Charlie.

Charlie was pictured seemingly giving his dad some swing tips on the practice range at Augusta National, advice even a 15-time major champion may have welcomed following a demoralising third round of 82.

That was the 48-year-old’s worst score in the Masters by four shots and meant an early tee time on Sunday alongside Neal Shipley, the only amateur to make the cut.

Woods started in style with a 360-yard drive on the par-five second to help set up a straightforward birdie, but ran up a triple bogey seven on the fifth and eventually signed for a 77 to finish last of the 60 players to make the cut.

Woods had previously targeted playing one tournament a month this year, with the remaining majors – the US PGA, US Open and Open Championship – the obvious targets.

“This is a golf course I knew going into it so I’ve got to do my homework going forward at Valhalla and Pinehurst and Troon, but that’s kind of the game-plan,” Woods said.

“I heard there were some changes at the next couple of sites so I’ve got to get up there early and check them out.”

Rory McIlroy carded a closing 73 to finish in a tie for 22nd on his 10th attempt to complete the career grand slam, with defending champion Jon Rahm a distant 45th following a final round of 76.

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    Scottie Scheffler is unsure whether his arrest on Friday was a factor after a disappointing Saturday led to him finishing tied for eighth at a "hectic" PGA Championship.

    On Friday, world number one Scheffler was arrested outside Valhalla Golf Club ahead of his second round.

    It subsequently emerged that he faces charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

    Scheffler shot a five-under 66 in the delayed second round, one stroke better than his first round, but a two-over 73 on Saturday all but ended his hopes of back-to-back major wins.

    Xander Schauffele ultimately claimed his first major title at 21 under, eight shots ahead of Scheffler.

    Speaking after Sunday's final round, in which a run of seven birdies in 10 holes helped him card a 65, Scheffler said he was proud of the way he finished the event. 

    "I think 'hectic' would probably be a good description," Scheffler said. "I'm fairly tired, definitely a lot more tired than I have been finishing some other tournaments.

    "I'm proud of today how we went out there and fought. I got off to a slow start and I was able to get some momentum and post a good round.

    "Yesterday obviously was quite frustrating and a bit of a different day, but overall proud of how I fought this week. Was fortunate to be out here competing, doing what I love."

    Asked whether his arrest had an impact on his performance, Scheffler said: "It's hard to tell. I think I would attribute it mostly to a bad day. 

    "I think when you come out here to compete, you're doing what you can throughout the course of the round to post a score and I wasn't able to get that done yesterday.

    "Did I feel like myself? Absolutely not. Was my warm-up the way it usually is and the distractions the way they normally are? Absolutely not. 

    "I got arrested Friday morning and I showed up here and played a good round of golf. So I've been good throughout my career at leaving the off-course distractions at home and keeping a pretty quiet personal life.

    "I'm not going to sit here and say that I played poorly yesterday because of what happened on Friday. I just had a bad day out on the course and was proud of how I came out here and bounced back today."

  • PGA Championship: McIlroy 'feeling good' about game despite wait for elusive fifth major PGA Championship: McIlroy 'feeling good' about game despite wait for elusive fifth major

    Rory McIlroy feels positive about his game despite a continued wait to win an elusive fifth major championship.

    Xander Schauffele secured a maiden major victory by winning the PGA Championship at Valhalla, which was the venue for McIlroy's last major triumph in 2014.

    McIlroy finished in a tie for 12th place and has often come close, recording 20 top-10 finishes in majors since winning his last, which is more than any other player during that span.

    He had won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the Wells Fargo Championship coming into the second major of 2024 and, despite falling short, still feels things are trending in the right direction with the U.S. Open and The Open Championship to come this year.

    Asked about the state of his game, McIlroy said: "I'm feeling good about that.

    "I have been on a big stretch of golf here. I think this was my sixth event in seven weeks. I've got a week off and then I'm playing another four in a row.

    "I'm feeling good about my game. I feel like things are sort of clicking more, especially after the win in New Orleans. 

    "Obviously played well last week in Charlotte. Have a week here to sort of reset and try to get going again."

    McIlroy was in contention for glory after carding a five-under 66 on the first day at Valhalla.

    But he ultimately finished nine strokes behind Schauffele, as a difficult 71 on day two was followed up with creditable scores of 68 and 67 over the weekend’s play.

    McIlroy looked poised for another top-10 finish before finding the water twice on Sunday, but still emerged at four under for the day with seven birdies and three bogeys in an up-and-down final round.

    He continued: "Obviously I started the week well, and then I've obviously played decent over the weekend.

    "That six-hole stretch on the back nine [on Saturday], not being able to hole any putts, I'll probably rue that.

    "Then the 71 on Friday, as well, was obviously not what I was looking for. Obviously put myself too far back. 

    "Overall I am playing solid, game is in good shape, and I've got a week off and then another busy stretch coming up."

  • PGA Championship: Schauffele 'captured the moment' with maiden major victory PGA Championship: Schauffele 'captured the moment' with maiden major victory

    Xander Schauffele says that he captured the moment during his PGA Championship win after handling the big moments better than he had in the past.

    Schauffele won his maiden major victory with a dramatic one-shot win at Valhalla, Kentucky on Sunday, making history as he finished 21 under, the lowest 72-hole score in men’s major history.

    He held off late challenges from Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland to secure the Wanamaker Trophy after carding a 65 on the final day.

    "It feels amazing," Schauffele told reporters after his win.

    "Winning, I said it earlier, is a result. This is awesome, it's super sweet, but when I break it down, I'm really proud of how I handled certain moments on the course today, different from the past."

    "I was pretty nervous. I don't really remember it [the birdie putt] lipping in, I just heard everyone roaring and I looked up to the sky in relief.

    "I really did not want to go into a play-off with Bryson. Going up 18 with his length, it's not something that I was going to have a whole lot of fun with.

    "I was able to capture that moment there... I just kept telling myself I need to earn this, earn this and be in the moment, and I was able to do that."

    Despite lifting the trophy, Schauffele believes that he still has work to do to reach Scottie Scheffler.

    The world number one had a turbulent week, which saw him arrested ahead of the second round on Friday, and he finished joint-eighth.

    "All of us are climbing this massive mountain and at the top of the mountain is Scottie Scheffler," Schauffele added. "I won this today, but I'm still not that close to Scottie Scheffler in the big scheme of things.

    "I got one good hook up there in the mountain up on that cliff, and I'm still climbing. I might have a beer up there on that side of the hill there and enjoy this, but it's not that hard to chase when someone is so far ahead of you."

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