Scottie Scheffler caps meteoric rise by becoming Masters champion

Talk about a meteoric rise. In the space of just 57 days, Scottie Scheffler has gone from zero - well, in a winning sense at least - to hero.

The 25-year-old is the new Masters champion, having now recorded four title triumphs in the space of just six starts.

He won the 86th edition by three shots at Augusta National, but don’t be fooled into thinking there was no drama or excitement on the last day.

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Playing with Scheffler in the final group, Cameron Smith closed an overnight three-shot deficit to one after just two holes.

Scottie Scheffler celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 86th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.Scottie Scheffler celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 86th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.
Scottie Scheffler celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 86th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

Smith, a two-time winner this year and turning into something of a specialist on this course, was still hanging on to Scheffler’s coat-tails heading into the back nine.

But, like numerous others, the Australian came to grief at the short 12th, where he ran up a triple-bogey 6 after getting wet from the tee.

It had been predicted that the final circuit would be a two-horse race, but Rory McIlroy proved otherwise by producing his best closing effort in the season’s opening major.

Needing to win this event to become just the sixth player to complete a career grand slam, it was vintage McIlroy as he carded an eight-under 64, which was the only bogey-free effort all week.

That was rounded off in spectacular style as the four-time major winner holed an outrageous bunker shot for a birdie-3 at the last.

McIlroy went wild, as did playing partner Collin Morikawa before he matched the feat from the same bunker but nearer the front of it.

The sight of both players celebrating their respective shots is something that will be remembered for a long time, as will the fact they were a combined 13-under on the day as Morikawa signed for an equally-impressive 67.

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McIlroy’s day might still come here, but it wasn’t to be this one and no-one could deny that Scheffler was a worthy winner - again.

The Texas-based player recorded his first PGA Tour win when landing the WM Phoenix Open on 13 February.

He then won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on 6 March before adding the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play on 27 March.

On each occasion, it marked a step up and now he’s achieved the ultimate feat in the game by becoming a major winner.

Scheffler led by five shots at the halfway stage and at no point in the final 36 holes did it look as though he’d wilt with pressure on his shoulders.

A chip-in birdie at the third was important in the final round, as was a brilliant approach that set up another gain at the 14th.

The win was in the bag when he carelessly three-putted from close range to finish with a double-bogey 6 for a 71 and a 10-under 278 total.

McIlroy finished second - his best effort here in 14 starts - with Smith (73) and 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry (69) sharing third spot on five-under.

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After a 69 - his best round here in eight circuits - Bob MacIntyre tied for 23rd on three-over.

Until the 72nd hole, Scheffler’s short game had been sensational as he joined Ian Woosnam (1991), Fred Couples (1992), Tiger Woods (2001 and 2002) and Dustin Johnson (2022) as players to claim a Green Jacket as world No 1s.

The man hitting the shots was guided round expertly by Teddy Scott, who was also on Bubba Watson’s bag when he won here in both 2012 and 2014.

In an event that was played in tough conditions apart from the last day, Scheffler was the only player in the field to break par in all four rounds.

This was no fluke and, on the evidence of the past two months, the new Masters champion is just getting started.

“Shooting stars never stop even when they reach the top” said three-time Augusta National winner Nick Faldo, quoting a line from Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes as he summed up Scheffler’s hot spell on CBS.

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