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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Scottie Scheffler won his first major championship at the Masters

Sunday, Scheffler defeated Cam Smith and Rory McIlroy by three shots, thanks to a magnificent chip shot on No. 3 that gave him the breathing space he needed to stave off the competition. Despite shooting 71 in the final round, Scheffler finished with a tournament total of 10-under 278.

Afterwards, Scheffler expressed his gratitude by saying, “I truly can’t put into words how much it means to me to win this golf event.”

McIlroy finished in second place, tying his previous best result at Augusta National. Smith’s round came crashing down at Amen Corner, and he finished in a tie for third place, five strokes behind the leader.

Smith has been in the top five in three of his six previous visits at Augusta National.

The triumph adds to a season filled with awe-inspiring performances for the 25-year-old Scheffler. He picked up his first PGA Tour victory at the Phoenix Open two months ago, and he has now won four times in his previous six outings on the circuit. With the March 27 rankings, he surpassed all other players to become the world’s best.

Now that he has won his first major title, he becomes the sixth player in history to do so while ranked No. 1 in the world. Scheffler will also get $2.7 million in addition to the green jacket. He also receives a lifetime exemption to the Masters as well as five years of guaranteed entrance into the other major tournaments after winning the Masters.

After taking a commanding 36-hole lead, Scheffler was in complete control of the event. At the conclusion of his round on Saturday, he slumped as he saw what had been a seven-stroke lead shrink to three — though it might have been worse if he hadn’t scrambled to make par on 18 after hitting the trees off the tee.

From the moment Scheffler pulled into the gallery on No. 1 Sunday, it seemed as if he was in for a rollercoaster ride until the final round.

Smith’s birdies on the opening two holes helped him reduce Scheffler’s advantage to one stroke. Then Scheffler’s tee shot on No. 3 landed behind the large scoreboard, and you could practically see the smoke billowing from the oncoming devastation behind the green.

He was awarded respite, a reprieve, since the trees in the vicinity were no longer in play as a result. Despite this, Scheffler’s second shot on the par-4 hole found the slope of the green and rolled back.

Scheffler’s next stroke, on the other hand, altered the course of the competition. Perhaps the whole of his professional life.

His chip glided over the green and into the hole with little effort on his part. Instead of a disaster, he managed to get a birdie. When Smith made a blundered shot from almost the exact same location, requiring him to two-putt, Scheffler’s advantage had been reduced to three points.

“It was certainly not a shot I was expecting to see go in,” Scheffler said of the winning attempt. “I wouldn’t say it altered the course of the day, but it certainly got things started for me, and I went on to play some very good golf after that,” he says.

He saved par on the par-3 fourth hole when his tee shot dropped short of the green while Smith took bogey, and the three-stroke swing in the next two holes allowed him the breathing space he needed to close the gap on Smith.

In the final round of the Masters, McIlroy recorded an 8-under 64, which was the lowest round of the event and included the best shot of the week. He is one Masters victory away from completing his career grand slam. He holed out on the 18th hole after going bunker to bunker to get birdie.

However, it would fall short of the mark. With a pair of 73s over the opening two days, McIlroy has fallen too far behind, especially with Scheffler playing as good as he is.

“Isn’t that what you’ve been dreaming about? Getting yourself in position is something you dream about,” said McIlroy, who finished with his best-ever result at Augusta National.

And now Scheffler has the green jacket to prove it to the rest of the world.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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