AUGUSTA, United States, April 10 – Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler clinched his first major title on Sunday by winning the Masters in dominant fashion, holding on tight to grab the green jacket after Tiger Woods completed his comeback from serious leg injuries.
Scheffler shot a final round one under par 71 to complete 72 holes for 10 under 278 and beat four-time major winner Rory McIlroy by three strokes with Australian Cameron Smith and Irishman Shane Lowry tied for third on 283.
“It was a long day, a tough day for me,” Scheffler said. “I just tried to keep my head down and execute my shots.”
Scheffler, who didn’t win his first PGA title until February, birdied a spectacular 87-footer on the par-4 third to blunt an early charge from Smith, winner of last month’s Players Championship.
“It wasn’t a shot I expected to come in, but it did shake things up for me,” Scheffler said.
He also birdied on the 14th and sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th to signal there would be no collapse to open a door for McIlroy, continuing an Augusta National win. to complete a career Grand Slam.
Scheffler endured an agonizing double bogey on the 18th hole, requiring three putts inside five feet before finally sinking the putt to secure his major triumph.
“I didn’t want to break my concentration,” Scheffler said. “The minute I did it was on green 18 when I finally got there and I had a five stroke lead and I was like, ‘Okay, now I can take advantage. And you have seen the results.
The 25-year-old American scooped a $2.7m top prize on a $15m purse and joined 1991 Masters champion Ian Woosnam as the only player to win majors in his first events as world number one.
Scheffler is only the fifth player to win the Masters while atop the standings, joining Welshman Woosnam and Americans Fred Couples, Dustin Johnson and Woods, whose epic injury struggle has dominated the spotlight all the week.
Spectators gave Woods a standing ovation on the 18th green for his astonishing return to golf 14 months after a car accident left him hospitalized for weeks and unable to walk for months.
“I wasn’t playing my best, but to have their support there, I don’t think words can describe it,” Woods said.
The 15-time major winner shot the weekend’s 78s, his worst Masters rounds, to finish with his highest Augusta National 72-hole score of 301 and the worst 47th-place finish ever.
But the fact that Woods was able to walk the course and play at all was nothing short of amazing considering the 46-year-old medical marvel hadn’t played a high-profile event in 17 months and feared a leg amputation. straight now held with rods, plates, pins and screws.
“Given where I was just over a year ago and what my prospects were, to finish here and be able to play in all four rounds, even a month ago, I didn’t know if I could pull it off.” , Woods mentioned.
Woods arrived in Augusta chasing a record sixth Masters crown and left knowing he had the guts to play in the majors again.
“It’s been a tough road and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to walk through it,” Woods said.
– Six starts, four wins –
Scheffler won his first US PGA title at February’s Phoenix Open, added another last month at Bay Hill and overtook Spaniard Jon Rahm for the top by winning the WGC Match Play crown two years ago. weeks.
Smith, who missed a chance to join Woods in 2001 as the only players to win the Players and Masters in the same year, opened with back-to-back birdies to cut Scheffler’s lead to one stroke, but faltered with bogeys on the third and fourth holes.
“Just too many mistakes,” Smith said. “Those two bogeys really slowed me down.”
The two birdied about five feet on the par-4 seventh and bogeyed on the 10th.
Smith sank a 15-foot birdie putt at 11, but his tee shot at the par-3 12 found a watery grave at Rae’s Creek on the way to a triple bogey to drop a drifting six.
“At 12, it was the tournament,” Smith said.
Scheffler, meanwhile, made his way through Amen Corner, a perilous three-hole stretch where Scheffler sank par putts of seven feet at 11, nine feet at 12 and missed a five-foot birdie putt at the 13th par-5.
The par saves thwarted a spectacular run from McIlroy, who delivered his best Masters run with a bogey-free 64 that included a 10-foot-13 eagle putt and a 54-foot birdie chip-in from a bunker at the edge of the green at 18.
“It’s as happy as ever on a golf course there,” McIlroy said after his best major finish since a runner-up share at the 2018 British Open. He hasn’t won a major tournament since 2014.