The ultimate hot streak has led to the ultimate maiden major victory: a Masters title for Scottie Scheffler.
The 25-year-old capped off his first major championship win with a 1-under 71 at Augusta National, to reach 10-under for the week and claim victory at the season’s first major by three strokes. Less than 60 days ago, Scheffler had not yet won on the PGA Tour, despite a number of close calls. Now, he has four Tour victories, all coming in his last six starts, and the most coveted jacket in sports.
With his third win (WGC-Match Play), Scheffler reached the top position in the world rankings, and validated that lofty standing with a 69-67 start to the week that had him five strokes out front at the tournament’s halfway point.
Going into the final round, Scheffler was three strokes ahead of recent PLAYERS champion Cameron Smith. The only other player within seven strokes of the lead was young South Korean Sung-jae Im.
Scheffler never relinquished that advantage, but that was not for the field not challenging him. Smith, who held the 18-hole co-lead, birdied the first two holes, and combined with two pars from Scheffler, the lead was down to just one with 16 holes left to play.
Scheffler would halt that initial challenge from Smith on the third hole, though, with a hole-out bump-and-run from below the green for birdie. Coupled with Smith making bogey, Scheffler’s lead was back to three strokes. (After the round, Scheffler called that chip the shot that “really got his round rolling.”) Smith then also bogeyed the 4th, and the lead was larger than when the day began.
Smith birdied the par-4 7th, but was matched by Scheffler, who made it through the front nine without a blemish on his card. The lead was four at the turn.
Meanwhile, a new challenger to the Masters leader came from a surprising place. Beginning the day at 1-over, 10 strokes back of Scheffler, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy surged into the picture. The eighth consecutive year that McIlroy could have become the sixth golfer in Tour history to complete the career grand slam, he vaulted into relevancy with a bogey-free 4-under front nine. His hot play continued onto the back, and when the 32-year-old sunk an eagle putt on the par-5 13th hole, he reached 7-under for his round and 6-under for the week, poised to post a legitimate score in the clubhouse.
Scheffler and Smith both bogeyed the par-4 10th, and when Smith, who boasts one of the Tour’s best short games, holed a length putt on 11 for birdie, the lead was back to three with seven holes to play.
However, as it has done repeatedly in Masters history, the brutal par-3 12th hole, the second hole of “Amen Corner” was a player’s undoing. Armed with momentum from his previous birdie, Smith knocked his tee shot into the water, reminiscent of the shots that essentially ended the championship hopes of Jordan Spieth in 2015 and Francesco Molinari in 2019. Smith was unable to get up-and-down from the drop zone and carded a triple-bogey, while Scheffler was able to scramble for par. Scheffler was now five ahead of Smith, who had also been caught by McIlroy.
Scheffler was largely able to coast from there, and after birdies on 14 and 15, the tournament felt all but over. Several groups ahead, McIlroy had holed out for birdie from a bunker on 18 to post a score of 7-under in the clubhouse, but after that Scheffler birdie on 15, he led by five with just three holes to play.
On 18, Scheffler continued to appear unshakable inside the typical enormous crowds, but for possibly the only time the entire week, he showed some mortality. Reaching the green in two, Scheffler pushed his 40-foot birdie putt to about three feet. He then TWICE missed from up close, trying to laugh off the second miss as he tapped in for double-bogey and officially became the newest Masters champion, finishing three ahead of McIlroy. Scheffler settled on 10 under for the week and was the only player in the field to shoot under par in all four rounds.
Smith ended with a 1-over 73 to finish in a share for third with 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry, who shot 69 to reach 5 under for the week.
It ended up not being a strong week for former Masters champions. The highest finish among the past Masters champs in the field was the T10 posted by 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel, who finished the tournament ten strokes back at even par.
Masters 2022: Leaderboard
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Scottie Scheffler -10 (-1)
2. Rory McIlroy -7 (-8)
3. Shane Lowry -5 (-3)
3. Cameron Smith -5 (+1)
5. Collin Morikawa -4 (-5)
6. Will Zalatoris -3 (-5)
6. Corey Conners -3 (-2)
8. Justin Thomas -1 (E)
8. Sungjae Im -1 (+3)
10. Cameron Champ E (-2)
10. Charl Schwartzel E (+2)
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
12. Dustin Johnson +1 (E)
14. Hideki Matsuyama +2 (E)
14. Tommy Fleetwood +2 (+1)
23. Sergio Garcia +3 (-1)
27. Jon Rahm +4 (-3)
27. Viktor Hovland +4 (+1)
35. Joaquin Niemann +6 (+2)
35. Tony Finau +6 (+2)
35. Patrick Reed +6 (+2)
35. Webb Simpson +6 (+4)
39. Patrick Cantlay +7 (-1)
39. Bubba Watson +7 (-1)
47. Tiger Woods +13 (+6)
48. Adam Scott +14 (+2)
50. Daniel Berger +15 (+8)
52. Tyrrell Hatton +17 (+8)
How Scottie Scheffler Won The Masters
In the past two months, Scheffler had won the WM Phoenix Open, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. He was able to ride off that confidence and win The Masters as well, setting the PGA Tour record for least amount of time between a first and fourth win. Prior to the victory in Phoenix, he had recorded 17 top-10s on the tour without a victory. Now, he cannot seem to lose.
Scheffler finished under par all four rounds, keeping a calm, almost stoic, demeanor and at no point appeared to be losing composure, even when he bogeyed four of his last seven holes on Saturday. He said after the round that his plan was to just keep his head down and focus on hitting good shots, since no lead is safe at Augusta. Smith challenged his lead a few times but would then make a mistake that Scheffler would capitalize on with good, safe shots himself.
For the week he had 21 birdies, which was second-best in the field. He canceled out just nine of those with bogeys, and the one double-bogey on the last whole, after the tournament had already been wrapped up.
Scheffler’s Winning Numbers
Driving: 298.9 yards (16th)
Fairways: 76.8%, 43/56 (8th)
Greens: 68.1%, 49/72 (5th)
Putts/GIR: 1.815 (2nd)
Sand Saves: 50%, 3/6 (7th)
Birdies: 21 (2nd)
What It Means For Scheffler
It adds to the legendary status Scheffler has amassed in a shockingly short amount of time. He now has a lifetime exemption to The Masters and strengthened his lead on the No. 1 spot in both the FedExCup rankings and the world rankings. His four wins on the season match what reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Patrick Cantlay had in the entire 2021 season. Another player would have to be absolutely ridiculous the rest of the season to seriously challenge Scheffler for this year’s reward. And it’s only April. This could end up being one of the greatest all-time seasons in PGA Tour history.
Scheffler’s 2022 Tour Season
Cuts Made: 13
Wins: 4 (Phoenix, API, Match Play, Masters)
Additional Top 10s: 3
Earnings: $10,098,014 (1st)
FedExCup Pts: 2770 (1st)
OWGR Before/After: 1/1
Tiger Time at The Masters
The fact that five-time Masters Champion Tiger Woods even competed this week was a big win for him, as he had not played a Tour event since the November 2020 Masters, due to a horrific car wreck in February of 2021 that nearly led to a leg amputation.
Woods did amazing to make the cut, especially in the midst of the big names who didn’t, opening his week with a 1-under 71 followed by a 2-over 74 to sit at just 1-over after the first two rounds. It was his 23rd consecutive made cut at Augusta.
Unfortunately, the 46-year-old hit the wall over the weekend. Tiger shot a 6-over 78 on Saturday, his worst ever round at The Masters, which he matched on Sunday to finish 13-over and in solo 47th place. He had just one birdie in the final round.
When Tiger plays again is anyone’s guess, but being able to walk the course and be competitive for two rounds was very encouraging. He did note after his round that he plans to compete at The Open Championship in July at St. Andrews. The next major on the Tour schedule is the PGA Championship in May.
Sunday’s Stars at Augusta National
Rory McIlroy was the big star at Augusta on Sunday, shooting a bogey-free 8-under 64, the only bogey-free round shot by anyone in the entire tournament. Rory’s solo-second is his best career finish at The Masters, and gives considerable hope that he will someday take the green jacket and finish off the career grand slam. It was his seventh career top-10 at The Masters, all of which have come in his last nine attempts.
Playing with Rory on Sunday was reigning Open Champion golfer of the year Collin Morikawa. One of the craziest moments of Sunday at Augusta, Morikawa also holed out from the sand on the final hole. A 5-under 67 tied the second-best score of the final day and moved the 25-year-old from T9 to solo-fifth, his best finish in three Masters attempts and his fourth straight major championship finishing inside the top 10. He also won the 2020 PGA Championship.
Also posting a 67 on the final day was 2020 Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris, who jumped from T14 to T6 in just his second career Masters start. Zalatoris was 1-over through 7, but found his rhythm after that, carding birdies on 8, 9, and 10, and then three more later on in the back-nine. Now 28th in the world rankings, Zalatoris is arguably the best player in the world to have not yet won a PGA Tour event.
Stumbles on Sunday at The Masters
Sung-jae Im finished T2 in the November 2020 Masters to Dustin Johnson, and found himself in the mix early in the week when he tied the first-round lead with a 4-under 68. Heading into Sunday, he was five back of Scheffler and one of just a few that were believed to have any prayer of capturing the green jacket. Unfortunately for Im, round 4 was a struggle, and with four bogeys on the back nine, he shot a 3-over 75 that dropped him from solo-third to T8.
The fact that Charl Schwartzel was in contention at all was somewhat shocking, given that he was coming into the week off six missed cuts and was ranked 209th out of 209 golfers for the season in strokes gained: total. He got into the mix with a 3-under 69 on Friday in difficult conditions, and played in the final group in the third round with Scheffler. After an eagle 2 on the par-4 10th hole in round 3, Schwartzel reached 6-under for the week before tumbling down the back nine. Sunday was even tougher as he failed to card a single birdie until the 17th hole, part of a 2-over 72 that dropped him from T4 to T10. That birdie-birdie finish, however, brought back some memories of when he birdied the final four holes in 2011 for his sole career major championship title.
A disastrous weekend at Augusta for Tyrrell Hatton ended with a field co-worst 8-over 80 in the final round, which looked especially bad after the 79 he had in the third round. Hatton had double-bogeys on both 11 and 13, leading to a finish that had him in 52nd place, dead last among those who made the cut.
Quotable: Master Champ
Cried Like a Baby…
“This morning was a totally different story. I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there telling [wife] Meredith, I don’t think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready, I don’t feel like I’m ready for this kind of stuff, and I just felt overwhelmed.
“If you’re going to choose a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament I would want to win. You don’t know how many chances you’re going to get. And so having a chance, you know, I think 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. The human condition is to make things bigger than they really are, and years from now, I would say people may not remember me as a champion, and that’s fine, but in the moment, you think it’s a lot bigger deal than it really is.”
– Scottie Scheffler, 2022 Masters Champion