'Cried like a baby' – Scottie Scheffler wins 86th Masters as Rory McIlroy roars back to finish second
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler continued his remarkable run of form as a closing round of 71 completed a dominant display in claiming his first major title at the US Masters. Scheffler finished on 10 under, three strokes clear of Rory McIlroy, whose 64 equalled the lowest closing round in Masters history to secure second spot. For the latest news and sharpest analysis on golf, visit GolfDigest.com
Scheffler 'cried like a baby' before clinching Masters victory
Scottie Scheffler cut a figure of glorious composure on the final day as a closing 71 saw him claim his first Masters title in assured style by three strokes ahead of a rejuvenated Rory McIlroy.
The world No. 1 astonishingly lifted a fourth title in his past six starts and a merited first major with a supreme display of outstanding course management and flawless shot execution on Sunday around Augusta National.
"I tried to keep my head down and execute shots," he said. "I knew if I took care of my stuff and played solid stuff, I'd get the job done.
"I didn't want any stress towards the end of the day, and I didn't break my concentration until we got on to the green on 18.
"Once we got on to the green, I was like, all right, I'm going to enjoy this, and had some fun with it."
Players champion Cameron Smith managed to close to within three strokes of his playing partner with a lovely birdie on the 11th hole, but he emptied his tee shot into the water on the 155-yard par-3 12th seconds later to kill off his hopes in running up a triple bogey six.
In contrast, Scheffler opted to steer his tee shot left and dry, but still got up and down for par.
"It was definitely nice to build up a lead," he commented. "Nothing is safe out there on the back nine on this golf course. I've heard all the things that everybody says, it doesn't start till the back nine on Sunday, anything can happen, don't hit in the water on 12, all the stuff.
"You know, I just blocked most of that out and tried to execute and hit good golf shots."
A 71 from the 25-year-old Texan professional saw him move to nine under on Saturday evening having led by five strokes on minus eight at the halfway stage as Smith signed for a third-round 69 to finish on six under, but the Australian could not apply the pressure when the heat came on down the closing nine.
His closing 73 saw him finish tied for third place on minus five alongside former Open champion Shane Lowry.
'I've got so many positives to take from it' - Lowry on third place Masters finish
"Just a really bad swing at the wrong time," said Smith about his momentous error on 12. "It was actually a really good number. It was a really nice 9-iron. Wasn't even trying to go near that pin, and, yeah, just a really poor swing.
"I was obviously very frustrated after the 12th hole today, but just hung in there and tried to finish off on a positive."
Smith's late collapse enabled McIlroy to surge through the field with six birdies – including an outrageous holed bunker shot at the 18th hole – and an eagle on the 13th enabling the Northern Irishman to sign for a wonderful 64 on seven under.
It matched the lowest closing round in Masters history produced by David Toms in 1998.
“To finish like this, it’s just absolutely incredible,” said McIlroy. “This tournament never ceases to amaze.”
'It's my best ever finish at Augusta' - McIlroy on his late charge at the Masters
It was never going to be enough to unseat Scheffler, who was thriving in the lead when world No. 6 Smith's bad swing on the iconic 12th ultimately removed the need for him to go chasing the golf course.
It was the first time since the 2015 US PGA Championship, when Jason Day held off Jordan Spieth, that two men inside the world's top 10 tee off in the final group. but there was to be no close run thing here.
Scheffler even managed to four putt the 18th in running up a double bogey with his mind slightly muddled by the intensity of the moment, but nobody could question his dominance over the past four days in claiming his first Green Jacket.
Nor his right to call himself the world's leading player.
He joins Dustin Johnson (2020), Tiger Woods (2002), Tiger Woods (2001), Fred Couples (1992) and Ian Woosnam (1991) as the only players to win the Masters as world No. 1.
"You know, last night was pretty easy. I was tired," said Scheffler. "We went and got some food. I spilled my dinner in the car on the way home, and that was extraordinarily frustrating. You can see (my wife) Meredith is still laughing at me. She thought it was the funniest thing ever; I didn't think it was so funny at the time. Last night was fine.
This morning was a totally different story. I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out. I didn't know what to do. I was sitting there telling Meredith, I don't think I'm ready for this. I'm not ready, I don't feel like I'm ready for this kind of stuff, and I just felt overwhelmed.
Woods intends to continue working on improving his physical condition after a closing 78 saw him finish 47th on plus 13. It was an outstanding effort in his first tournament since his life-threatening car crash 14 months ago left him in hospital with his career appearing over.
"Just to be able to play, and not only just to play, but I put up a good first round," said Woods, who confirmed he will compete at The 150th Open at St Andrews in July. "I got myself there. I don't quite have the endurance that I would like to have had, but as of a few weeks ago, didn't even know if I was going to play in this event.
"To go from that to here, we're excited about the prospects of the future, about training, about getting into that gym and doing some other stuff to get my leg stronger, which we haven't been able to do because it needed more time to heal. I think it needs a couple more days to heal after this, but we'll get back after it, and we'll get into it.
I am looking forward to St Andrews. That’s something that is near and dear to my heart, I’ve won two Opens there at the Home of Golf. It’s my favourite golf course in the world so I will be there for that one.
"Anything in between I don’t know. I will try, there’s no doubt, and we’ll see what this body is able to do.”
Woods 'thankful for the opportunity to be able to grind through Masters'
Scheffler's glorious two-month title run
13 February, 2022 WM Phoenix Open
6 March, 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational
27 March, 2022 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
10 April, 2022 US Masters
2022 Masters leaderboard
-10 S Scheffler (US)
-7 R McIlroy (NI)
-5 C Smith (Aus)
-5 S Lowry (Irl)
-4 Collin Morikawa (US)
-3 Will Zalatoris (US)
-3 Corey Conners (Can)
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