Dominant Scheffler wins Masters for second time

Dominant Scheffler wins Masters for second time
By: ESPN GOLF Posted On: April 15, 2024 View: 51

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A victory at the 2024 Masters seemed inevitable for Scottie Scheffler.

The Texan has been ranked No. 1 in the world for more than 80 weeks during his short career. He'd won eight times on the PGA Tour since February 2022, a stretch that saw him become the first golfer ever to win the Players Championship in back-to-back years.

Scheffler is regarded as perhaps golf's best ball striker since Tiger Woods in his prime, and Scheffler's magical hands around the greens also have drawn comparison to you-know-who.

Until Sunday, Scheffler had only one major championship victory, the 2022 Masters, which might have been the only reason anyone would doubt his status as the game's next generational star.

After entering Sunday's final round of the 88th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in a three-way tie for the lead, Scheffler ran away from the other contenders on the second nine to win a second green jacket in three years.

Scheffler carded a 4-under 68 over the final 18 holes to beat Sweden's Ludvig Aberg by four strokes. Aberg, who was an amateur at Texas Tech a year ago, was attempting to become the first golfer to win the Masters in his debut since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. Aberg posted a 3-under 69 in the final round.

Max Homa, Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood tied for third at 4 under.

"I did my best to stay calm out there," Scheffler said from Butler Cabin before 2023 champion Jon Rahm gave him the green jacket. "I did my best to stay patient on the course. And I was able to make some key shots and key putts today to keep my round going.

"Ludvig played great today. He made a move on me on the back nine, and I was fortunate to hold him off there toward the end."

At 27, Scheffler became the fourth-youngest golfer to win multiple green jackets; only Jack Nicklaus (25 years, 81 days), Woods (25 years, 100 days) and Seve Ballesteros (26 years, 2 days) were younger.

Scheffler claimed his second Masters title in only his fifth start at Augusta National, which is the second-fewest starts needed to accomplish the feat in the tournament's history. Horton Smith won two of the first three Masters, in 1934 and 1936.

Scheffler also became only the fifth golfer in Masters history to win multiple green jackets by 3 strokes or more, joining Woods (1997 and 2002), Ballesteros (1980 and 1983), Nicklaus (1965 and 1972) and Sam Snead (1949 and 1952).

"Obviously, Scottie is an unbelievable golf player, and I think we all expect him to be there when it comes down to the last couple holes of a tournament," Aberg said. "He's proven it again and again, and I think he makes us better. He makes you want to beat him, obviously, and that's the same for me and the same for everyone else in this field."

In the past 35 days, Scheffler has won three times against elite fields at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players and now the Masters.

"It's just what he's been doing," said Xander Schauffele, who finished eighth at 1 under. "It's been a while since we've had a guy out here that tees it up and he's supposed to win and he wins."

What is Scheffler doing so well?

"I mean, everything," Morikawa said. "He drives the ball plenty, plenty long, well past me. Hits his irons obviously spectacular, keeps it simple, makes the putts when he needs to. If he doesn't, still has plenty of chances, and just never put himself in trouble."

The final two pairings of Aberg-Homa and Scheffler-Morikawa made their way to Amen Corner (hole Nos. 11 to 13) shortly before 5 p.m. ET. By the time they left, only one of them -- Scheffler -- still had a prayer to win.

Aberg made the first big mistake when his sweeping shot from 216 yards went too far left and bounced into a pond at the par-4 11th. He made a double-bogey 6 and fell 4 shots behind Scheffler.

A short while later, Morikawa hit his approach shot from nearly the same spot as Aberg. He yelled, "Damn it," after his ball took flight and watched it bounce into the pond. The result was his second double bogey in three holes -- he couldn't get out of a greenside bunker on No. 9 on his first try -- as he fell 5 shots behind Scheffler.

"Greed got the best of me," Morikawa said. "Nine, can't miss it over there and can't leave it in the bunker. Eleven, just tried to hit too perfect of a shot. It's not like at that point I was trying to press. I knew where I stood. Yeah, it's just can't do that."

Then on the 12th hole, where swirling winds, a narrow green and the intimidating Rae's Creek have spoiled many Masters hopefuls' dreams over the years, Homa's chances took a devastating blow. He didn't hit a bad tee shot on the shortest par-3 on the course, but his ball leaped high off the sunbaked green and settled in vines on a bank.

After watching his ball bounce hard off the green, Homa asked his caddie, Joe Greiner, "Where did it go?"

After a couple of minutes, Homa found it in the thick ground covering, but he had to take an unplayable lie and a 1-stroke penalty. His chip shot got caught up in the fringe, and he two-putted for a double-bogey 5 to drop to 5 under.

"The honest answer is it didn't feel fair," Homa said. "I hit a really good golf shot, and it didn't feel fair. I've seen far worse just roll back down the hill. Yeah, the professional answer is these things happen."

Scheffler made a bogey of his own at the 11th when he missed the green, chipped to 9 feet and missed a par putt. He played it safely on the 12th and made par.

Scheffler ended any doubts about winning again when he made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. On the par-5 13th, he reached the green in 2 shots and two-putted for a birdie to move to 9 under. Then on the par-4 14th, he spun his approach shot to a foot and tapped in to go to 10 under.

By then, Scheffler's lead was 3 over Aberg and 5 over Homa and Morikawa.

Scheffler added another birdie on the par-3 16th, and what had seemed inevitable for so long was now reality.

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