Scottie Scheffler enjoyed winning so much at the WM Phoenix Open three weeks ago that he couldn’t wait to experience it again.
On Sunday, the 25-year-old University of Texas product won his second season title, which also happened to be his second career title, shooting an even-par 72 to vault himself out front on a difficult track, which was enough to reach 5-under par and claim a one-stroke victory at the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Scheffler, who had been considered the best player in the world without a PGA Tour title when he won in TPC Scottsdale early last month, got into the mix at extremely difficult Bay Hill, and took his second title in three starts.
He began the final day in Orlando two strokes behind Billy Horschel and Talor Gooch, and despite bogeys on Nos. 1 and 3, he was able to stay in the thick of it amid brutal course conditions, with everyone around him falling fast.
A birdie on 5 and a bogey on 9 saw Scheffler turn on 1-over, placing him one back of world No. 3 Viktor Hovland. The young Norwegian, who had a birdie and six pars through the first seven holes, notched his first two bogeys of the day on 8 and 9, dropping him into a tie with Scheffler with nine holes to go. Horschel, winner of last year’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, was 4-over through 8; and as bad as that was, Gooch was considerably worse, with four bogeys and two doubles for a 7-over 43 on the front.
For most of the field, back-nine scorecards were littered with an assortment of squares and some circles, but Scheffler managed to stay steady. Playing in the penultimate pairing together, Hovland jumped ahead with a birdie on the par-4 11th, but Scheffler matched with a birdie on the par-5 12th, which had a chance to be an eagle after his second shot landed just 18 feet from the hole.
Most would agree that Scheffler essentially won the tournament with gritty pars on 15 and 16. On the former, a poor drive had him in the pine straw and his awkward position even made his attempted layup difficult. Still, he nailed a 20-footer for par. Then on the par-5 16th, Scheffler had an unfortunate bad bounce on his drive into deep grass, and again was in only marginally better position after his attempted layup. However, he was able to get up-and-down for par from 68 yards away, as his approach had him within seven feet of the hole.
Earlier, former U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland eagled that par-5 and suddenly had the lead, but it was short-lived for the Kansas product, who played the final two holes double bogey – bogey to shoot a 1-over 73 and finish T5.
Scheffler would get out front for good when Hovland’s tee shot on the par-3 17th landed in near impossible position in a bunker, leading to a bogey that very well could have been worse.
On the 18th, both Hovland and Horschel missed birdie putts that would have put them into a playoff with Scheffler. A par-par finish for Scheffler meant a clean, bogey-free back nine, and an even-par 72 that was one of the best rounds in the Sunday field. Only two players broke 70 on the final day.
Hovland, Horschel and Tyrrell Hatton – who all rank inside the top 16 of the Official World Golf Rankings – finished tied for second on 4-under par.
2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Scottie Scheffler -5 (E)
2. Tyrrell Hatton -4 (-3)
2. Viktor Hovland -4 (+2)
2. Billy Horschel -4 (+3)
5. Gary Woodland -3 (+1)
5. Chris Kirk -3 (E)
7. Lucas Herbert -2 (-4)
7. Talor Gooch -2 (+5)
9. Sam Burns -1 (-1)
9. Matt Fitzpatrick -1 (+1)
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
13. Rory McIlroy +1 (+4)
17. Jon Rahm +2 (+2)
17. Max Homa +2 (+2)
20. Hideki Matsuyama +3 (-2)
26. Adam Scott +4 (+2)
38. Sergio Garcia +6 (+2)
38. Will Zalatoris +6 (+7)
42. Zach Johnson +7 (+1)
42. Ian Poulter +7 (+5)
52. Rickie Fowler +8 (+5)
How Scottie Scheffler Won the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Scheffler’s three rounds in the 60s was more than anyone in the field had, and he played well enough in rounds 1, 2, and 4 to make up for the disaster that was his round 3: a 6-over 78. The difference on Sunday was that he did not make a single mistake on the back nine, combining his birdie on the par-5 12th with eight pars, which put up a score nobody else could catch.
For the week, Scheffler had 16 birdies, which was the ninth-best total in the field, and it was enough for his 13 bogeys to not completely sink his chances. He led the field in strokes gained: approach-the-green and strokes gained: total. It ended up not mattering tha the hit just 14 of 28 fairways over the weekend, including just five on Sunday.
Scottie Scheffler’s Winning Numbers
Driving: 311.8 yards (17th)
Fairways: 51.79%, 29/56 (82nd)
Greens: 61.11%, 44/72 (13th)
Putts/GIR: 1.636 (4th)
Birdies: 16 (9th)
SG Tee to Green: 8.925 (8th)
SG Total: 13.179 (1st)
What Winning Means for Scheffler
His win in Phoenix put him sixth in the OWGR, meaning there were few spots for him to jump, but Scheffler at least got himself into the top 5 for the first time, as winning at Bay Hill ,moved him ahead of previous No. 5 Rory McIroy.
He also passed Hideki Matsuyama for the FedExCup standings lead, and makes himself among the favorites for the bigger events coming up on Tour, including next week’s THE PLAYERS Championship and the four majors. This was an excellent week for Scheffler’s profile.
Scottie Scheffler’s Season
Cuts Made: 10
Wins: 2 (Phoenix, API)
Additional Top 10s: 3
Earnings: $5,251,814 (1st)
FedExCup Pts: 1614 (1st)
OWGR Before/After: 6/5
Sunday’s Stars at Bay Hill
Tyrrell Hatton had a difficult Saturday with a 6-over 78 that more or less knocked him out of contention, but the 30-year-old rebounded with a phenomenal 3-under 69 that allowed him to be among the three runner-ups. The 2020 Arnold Palmer Champion ended up being the only player in the field to shoot in the 60s for at least three rounds. He made the turn on even-par, but carded four birdies in the range of 10-16.
Lucas Herbert began the final day nine strokes behind Horschel and Gooch,but shot the lowest round in the Sunday field, a 4-under 68, to propel 26 spots from T31 to T7, to keep the Aussie inside the top 30 in the FedExCup standings. The Aussie had four birdies combined with one eagle.
Reigning Masters Champ Hideki Matsuyama put himself well out of the leadership mix after shooting par or worse in each of the first three days, but he was one of the better players in the Sunday field, carding six birdies as par of a 2-under 68 that jumped him a field-high 38 spots from T58 to T20. He lost his spot atop the FedExCup standings, but his Sunday had nothing to do with it.
Sunday’s Stumbles at the Arnold Palmer
Talor Gooch has been fantastic in the 2022 season, but left Bay Hill disappointed after a 5-over 77 dropped him from T1 to T7. Gooch played his back-nine bogey-free, which was great, yet couldn’t undo all the damage caused from his 7-over front nine, where he carded two double-bogeys and four bogeys.
Also plummeting down the leaderboard was four-time major champion and 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Rory McIlroy, who shot a 4-over 76 for the second consecutive day to fall from T6 to T13. Twelve bogeys after his 7-under 65 gave him the 18-hole lead was too much to overcome. It should be considered impressive, however, that his T13 was his worst finish in this event in his past five attempts.
Sundays’ biggest dropper was surprisingly one of the Tour’s best up-and-comers with Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris posting an 8-under on the front-nine led to a 9-over 79 that dropped him from T12 to T38. He remains one of the best in the world without a PGA Tour victory, but did not do his profile anything good with how poorly Sunday went. He was T10 at this event a year ago.
“I thought today, after the way yesterday went, I thought they’d take it a bit easier on the golf course, but the setup was harder today than yesterday, which surprised me a bit. I kind of went into today thinking I needed to shoot maybe a couple under, and it turns out even was good enough. The way the greens are, making putts out here is so hard. There’s not a lot of friction on the greens, and with the way the wind is blowing, any little bit of a gust has such an extreme effect on the golf ball. It’s so difficult.”
– Scottie Scheffler, Arnold Palmer Invitational Champion