Apr 11th, 2022
Scottie Scheffler wins the 86th Masters
World number holds on to win as charging McIlroy leaves it too late
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
-10 S Scheffler (US); -7 R McIlroy (NI); -5 S Lowry (Ire), C Smith (Aus); -4 C Morikawa (US); -3 W Zalatoris (US), C Conners (Can)
The American had the luxury of being able to four-putt the last hole and still win by three shots from a late-charging Rory McIlroy. Scheffler closed with a 71 to finish at ten-under-par ahead of the charging McIlroy who lit up the course with a final round 64.
Cameron Smith of Australia had been the main threat to Scheffler but like many before him, his Masters came to a watery end at the 12th hole, where he took a devastating triple-bogey. Nevertheless, Smith rallied to grab a share third on five-under alongside Ireland's Shane Lowry, who also had to recover from a disastrous triple bogey on the par three 4th to card a 69.
With Smith's race run, all eyes were on McIlroy as the primary challenger and when he holed an incredible bunker shot at the last for birdie to get within three of Scheffler, another great Masters story was on the cards.
However, the world number stayed calm and relaxed, building on his lead with birdies on the 14th and 15th holes, giving him a five shot cushion coming up the last.
After the round, Scheffler revealed he "cried like a baby" ahead of his final round as doubts filled his head about whether he was ready to claim his first major title.
When Smith opened with two birdies to close within one shot of the lead Scheffler looked vulnerable. However, a turning point came at the 3rd, where, with both players in trouble, Scheffler chipped in for a most unlikely birdie and Smith took bogey to stretch the lead back to three.
"I wouldn't say it changed the complexion of the day but it helped me get on a roll," said Scheffler of the events at the shortest par four on the course.
The 25-year-old American didn't look back and although Smith drew within three of the lead again with a superb birdie at the 11th, the Australian's disaster at the 12th took the pressure off .
"I tried to keep my head down and execute shots. I knew if I took care of my stuff and played solid stuff, I'd get the job done," said Scheffler.
"I'm kind of glad I missed those putts at the end because it meant I didn't get too emotional."
Rory McIlroy will look back at another slow start to a major as a missed opportunity to complete the career grand slam he so desires.
McIlroy's 64 was just one shot outside the course record and bettered his previous lowest round at Augusta of 65 he shot in the opening round in 2011.
"This tournament never ceases to amaze and that's as happy as I've ever been on a golf course right there," said McIlroy.
"I gave it a good go and could not ask any more of myself. I'll come back and keep trying."
Collin Morikawa, who partnered McIlroy amazingly also holed out from the same bunker at the last to snatch sole possession of fifth place on four-under-par. Canadian Corey Connor and Will Zalatoris of America finished a further shot back in a share of sixth.
Justin Thomas and Sung-jae Im were the only other players to finish under par for the event on one-under-par in joint eighth.
Five-time Masters champion Woods, who looked in pain walking off the last green, posted a second 78 of the weekend to finish well back in forty-seventh spot. Woods admitted that just playing this week was one of the greatest achievements following the horrendous injuries he suffered in a car crash just over a year ago.
"I don't think people really understand. The people who are close to me understand. Some of the players who are close to me have seen it and have seen some of the pictures and the things that I have had to endure," said Woods after his round.
Woods confirmed he would contest the 150th Open Championship in July at St Andrews but declined to confirm any further plans.