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Scheffler’s dramatic rise to Green Jacket glory

by thesquadron.in
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Even as the world can’t get enough of Scottie Scheffler, the soft-spoken American won the 86th Masters in his own inimitable, down-to-earth style. A four-putt double bogey on Augusta National’s 72nd hole felt like a desperate attempt to prove that he is part of hoi polloi, and not the high priest of his sport.

The 25-year-old won three titles in five starts before coming to Augusta National, but a Green Jacket is always going to make the world No 1 stand out in the crowd.

It wasn’t just the win; also the way he won. The world’s biggest golf tournament, one that got even more attention than usual as it marked the return from a life-threatening accident of five-time champion Tiger Woods, witnessed four days of different weather conditions – it went from brutal on Saturday to genteel in the final round – and Scheffler was the only player to get into the red numbers on each day.

He finally finished on 10-under par, but that three-shot winning margin was his gift to the field. It would have been much, much more if not for four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy’s screamer of a finish, and Scheffler’s own “loss of concentration” that resulted in the double bogey on the last hole.

A couple of shots in the four days at The Masters showed how Scheffler is made of steel. The first came on the 18th hole in Saturday’s third round. Having pulled his tee shot into the bushes and taken a penalty drop, a big number seemed imminent. It would have not only cut into his lead, but also shaken his confidence. In response, Scheffler ripped a magnificent five-iron third shot from the pine straws to salvage a bogey.

And then on Sunday, as Australian Cameron Smith threatened to do to Scheffler what he did to India’s Anirban Lahiri at the Players Championship last month, the world No 1 chipped in from a difficult greenside position on the third hole for a birdie. Smith, from the same place, made a bogey and that took the wind out of his sails.

Scheffler, a devout Christian, may have looked like a machine on the golf course, but in the post-match press conference, he revealed a torrid morning with his wife, Meredith, before coming to the golf course.

“I don’t think I’m ready for this,” he told his high school sweetheart, whom he married in 2020. “Gosh, it was a long morning. I cried like a baby. I was so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do. I did not feel like I was ready for this kind of stuff, and I just felt overwhelmed.

“She told me: ‘Who are you to say that you are not ready?’ Who am I to know what’s best for my life? We talked about that God is in control and he is leading me. If today is my time, it’s my time. And if I shot 82 today, somehow I was going to use it for His glory. This is my first time (crying on a Sunday morning), and it’s definitely different with me being in lead and different with this being a major, the Masters.

“The human conditioning 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.”

The conversation was as much an insight into the young Scheffler’s mind, as it was revealing about the pressures of winning major championships in sport. Even a serial champion is suspect to it.

With slightly over $10 million in earnings from 13 starts this season, Scheffler is headed towards a bumper year. The last player to win over $10 million was Jordan Spieth ($12.03m) in 2015.

With 68% greens hit in regulation (GIR) and 1.53 average putts for every GIR, Scheffler was well inside the top-10 in both key stats categories.

Asked what he did particularly well to win the Green Jacket, Scheffler credited his caddie Ted Scott, who was also on Bubba Watson’s bag during his two Masters wins.

“I think we just did such a good job of being really committed to what we were doing. I knew exactly where I wanted to put the ball and if I was to miss it, which side of the golf course I could be on so that I could still get it up-and-down,” said Scheffler.

“I chipped it so good this week. We did just a good job of putting myself in positions where we could still manage when I wasn’t swinging my best at times. Ted just knows this golf course so well, and I trust him here. We have been together for eight-nine events, and I’d say he is doing a good job.”

The second Major championship of the season is the PGA Championship in Southern Hills, Oklahoma, starting May 19. Given the form he is in, Scheffler, now the world’s undisputed top golfer , will enter as the favourite.

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