AUGUSTA, Ga. – Most Masters masters start crying the moment they put on the green jacket. Scottie Scheffler cried shortly after waking up Sunday morning before the final round even started.
Scheffler, who has now won four of his last six golf tournaments and earned $ 9 million in the last 57 days, won the 2022 Masters by three strokes over Rory McIlroy after shooting a 1-under 71 to finish at 10 under for the week. There were shots that stood out Sunday, of course. He chipped in a ridiculous birdie at No. 3. He also birded No. 9, No. 14 and No. 15. But it was his presence – his refusal to hurry, even when the tournament got a little interesting – and the long, slow Texas hiking up and down the Augusta Nationals fairways that stood out above everything else.
Scheffler is a mega-talent. When he entered 2022 on the heels of a singles victory over the then world No. 1 Jon Rahm at the Ryder Cup 2021, every conceivable statistic indicated that he soon won and often won. But then again, when you’re 0 for 70 on the PGA Tour to start your career, you actually have to go out and win.
Scheffler did it in droves from mid-February. He ticked off at the Phoenix Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play as part of a fierce race in the march against this 86th Masters. He seemed perhaps more surprised at how fast he rose to No. 1 in the world than even we did.
“I always wanted to be out here and I never expected that,” he said Sunday night at Augusta National. “I never expected to sit where I am now. You know you do not expect things to come to you in this life. You just do the best you can and with the hand you get and go from there. .
“I never really thought I was that good at golf, so I just kept practicing and kept working hard, and that’s just what I want to keep doing.”
In fact, Scheffler was always pretty good at golf. You do not win the US Junior Amateur and get on the Walker Cup team unless your talent is off the charts.
But there are many juniors who can swing it and never reach the press center on Sunday night in Augusta. What apparently sets Scheffler apart is his steady demeanor, which was a struggle in high school and college. That is also why what he described on Sunday night came as such a surprise.
It could have gone awry early Sunday for Scheffler. He paired the first two holes, while the always-dangerous Cameron Smith, who played in the final pairing with Scheffler, birdied both and withdrew within a stroke of the 36- and 54-hole leaders.
Scheffler must have thought briefly of what he told his wife, Meredith, several hours earlier. They fell asleep watching “The Office” on Saturday night as he tried to dampen the stress of holding a Masters lead into Sunday.
In the morning, the pressure overwhelmed him.
“This morning was a completely different story,” Scheffler said. “I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed. I did not know what to do. I sat there and told Meredith, ‘I do not think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready. I do not feel “I’m ready for that kind of thing.” And I just felt overwhelmed. ”
Scheffler’s emotions are reminiscent of those Shane Lowry described in 2019 during the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
“I suppose I woke up this morning, not sure if I had what it takes to win a major,” Lowry said after winning the Claret Jug.
Scheffler used different words on Sunday, but the context was the same.
“I think [I felt that way] because it’s Masters, “Scheffler said.” I dreamed of getting a chance to play in this golf tournament. I cried the first time I got my invitation in the mail. We were so lucky to play here in college and I love this place. I love this golf course.
“If you want to pick a golf tournament to win, it would be the tournament I want to win. You do not know how many chances you get. And then I have a chance, you know, I think I had a lead. at five shots last Friday and then a lead of three shots today, I do not know if you get better chances than that. You will not waste them. ”
Scheffler did not waste his. He chipped in at No. 3 from an impossible spot as Smith made bogey, and at no point the rest of the day did anyone come within two strokes of his lead.
“After the [birdie and pars at Nos. 4 and 5] I just kind of started crossing, “Scheffler added.
With McIlroy posting a heroic, record-breaking 64 in front of him – today’s round and the tournament with three strokes – Scheffler made a Masters-winning clinic on the second nine. He relied on caddy Ted Scottm, who won two of these on Bubba Watson’s bag, while playing clean, smart golf that contradicted his age (25) and experience (10 majors played) before this week.
Then Scheffler came in at No. 18, hit the green in two and had six putts to win straight. Incredibly, he used four of them as he missed a 7-foot and a 5-foot to win the Masters before eventually pouring a 3-foot into the cup.
He said it was the first time all day that he let his mind slip away to the reality that he would come back to this tournament for the rest of his life. It turned out.
When he finally made the tournament-sounding putt, Scheffler raised his fists and cheered on patrons who had roared for him over four days in a row and 72 holes.
But he did not cry.
The tears had already been shed that morning in the rental house that Schefflers shared with Sam Burns and his wife, Caroline. As Scheffler struggled to face the monumental task of averting Smith, McIlroy and the rest of the best field in the world – on a course that has reduced even greater talents to ashes in his Sunday story – he said his wife’s words were a balm.
The great Texan who never seems too high or too low on the golf course could not at all cope with the thought of what the day could offer.
That’s the magic at Augusta National. You think you have its keys; then they add another lock. It’s mysterious. More than the sum of its parts shows that it will be so.
Think of it this way: The No. 1 player in the world who had beaten everyone he watched for two months in a row was afraid to drive down Magnolia Lane on Sunday afternoon.
Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter and Greg DuCharme respond to Scottie Scheffler’s dominant victory at the 2022 Masters. Follow and listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Fear of failure is a unique human condition. One can say that it is a function, not a fault. We do not want to let down those who believe in us. We do not want the world to remember us for what we could not do.
However, the fear of success is far more frightening. When you fear success, what you really fear is either people who look at you in disbelief (“Wait, to guy? “) or the reality of your success that does not satisfy your soul.
Scheffler seems to have enough humility to deal with the former, but his wife needed to advise him on the latter.
“My identity is not a golf score,” Scheffler said. “As Meredith said to me this morning: ‘If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 strokes, if you never win a golf tournament again … I will still love you, you will still be the same Jesus loves you and nothing changes. ‘ All I’m trying to do is honor God, and that’s why I’m here, and that’s why I’m in position.
“Meredith always asks for peace because that’s what I want to feel on the golf course, is peace and have fun and just feel his presence. So that’s her prayer every day. That’s my prayer, and that’s what I really felt today. “I felt at peace.”
The self-described high school and college hothead is now one of the quietest players on the PGA Tour. At least on the golf course. His beliefs clearly affect his identity and isolate him from buying into the lie that a golf tournament is an event of life or death.
However, there are still questions. They always will – about our profession, our parenting and our performance as human beings.
Coincidentally, McIlroy’s words from last fall, after winning the CJ Cup, fit here. “I realized in a way that it’s enough to be me,” he said after that victory.
For Scheffler, “being me” was enough, with or without a green jacket. Meredith reminded him Sunday morning that life is bigger than golf. But as he smiled dazed as the afternoon turned to evening and a green jacket slipped around his torso, he also realized that being Scottie Scheffler, the golfer was also enough. At least for this week.
“I mean, it’s Augusta National,” Scheffler said. “It’s about as cool as it can get. It’s so much fun to play. I just can not believe I can come back for a lifetime and enjoy this golf course.”