Masters: Scottie Scheffler claims second green jacket in emphatic fashion

AUGUSTA, Ga. — You can count on a few certainties every year at Augusta National. The azaleas will be magnificent. The food will be the best deal in sports. And for the foreseeable future, Scottie Scheffler will be stacking up green jackets.

Scheffler, 27, won his second green jacket in three years on Sunday, winning by four strokes over Ludvig Åberg in a coronation that wasn’t even that close. A four-man first-nine scuffle turned into a one-man second-nine stroll to victory.

The tournament’s four leaders approaching the turn made for an unlikely quartet: Scheffler, the most dominant golfer on the planet. Collin Morikawa, the smoothest iron player in the game, seeking the third major of the career Grand Slam. Max Homa, the fan favorite at last finding his footing in majors. Åberg, playing in his first major.

They all met at the top of the leaderboard at 4:22 p.m. on Sunday in Augusta, each boasting a 6-over score and an armful of crucial drives and putts. For a moment, the fight was on. But for only a moment.

Scheffler birdied the eighth to get to -7, then fired the finest shot of the tournament, an approach to No. 9 that kicked back, glanced at the hole and stopped inside of a foot for a tap-in birdie to reach -8:

Morikawa, meanwhile, hit the lip of the bunker on No. 9 and double-bogeyed the hole, falling back to -5, three strokes off the lead. Åberg birdied the ninth, and Homa, his playing partner, birdied the 10th, both reaching -7.

Scheffler already has one green jacket, and he took a huge step toward his second with his 10th hole, another birdie set up by another brilliant approach that settled to within 9 feet. That put him at -9, two shots clear of the field.

Then came Amen Corner, starting with the second shot at the 11th hole. Keegan Bradley has called this “the hardest shot in the world,” and for both Åberg and Morikawa, that proved all too true. Åberg soaked his approach to fall to -5, and a few minutes later, Morikawa dropped his second shot into almost the same section of the pond beside the 11th green.

That left only Homa within two strokes of Scheffler, but not for long. Homa’s tee shot at the 12th cleared Rae’s Creek but kicked hard off the back of the green and ended up buried in the azaleas and pine straw on the hillside behind the hole. While Scheffler struggled on 11, Homa double-bogeyed the 12th.

In other words, Scheffler bogeyed 11 … and gained a stroke on the field, three strokes clear with seven holes to play. That’s pretty much how his afternoon went.

From there, it became a game of Anything Anyone Can Do, I Can Do Better. Coming out of Amen Corner, Åberg salvaged a touch of redemption with a birdie at 13 … and then Scheffler matched him to keep the lead at three. Åberg followed that up with a birdie on 14 to get back to -7 … and Scheffler casually threw his approach on 14 to within a foot to retake a three-stroke lead. No one would get any closer for the rest of the afternoon.

Only eight men have more Masters wins than Scheffler now. He has work to do to establish this kind of dominance at golf’s other three majors, but at Augusta National, his legacy is now secure.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Scottie Scheffler of the United States celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 2024 Masters on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) (Jamie Squire via Getty Images)

Masters Week: Mending the rift

The week began, as all majors do now, with meditations on golf’s current state of chaos. Some of the world’s best players compete on the PGA Tour, others on the breakaway LIV Golf tour, and they haven’t competed on the same course since last July’s Open Championship. Most players — and virtually all fans — seem weary of the split and are ready for golf’s power brokers to reunite, one way or another.

“The best players playing against each other,” Jack Nicklaus said Thursday shortly after his latest ceremonial tee shot, “that's what we want in professional golf, and right now, we don't have it.”

LIV’s presence at the Masters was constant, even if the number of LIV-logo-sporting patrons was almost nonexistent. Defending champion Jon Rahm wore the gear of his LIV team all week long. Bryson DeChambeau held the first-round lead and remained near the top of the leaderboard all week long. Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, who had three heartbreaks in his quest for a green jacket, roamed the grounds on a secondary-market ticket.

Seeing Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson in the field alongside Woods, Rory McIlroy and Scheffler is what fans want, and what the game needs. Only a few people have the power to make that happen, and according to one of those people — Tiger Woods — there’s at least a little reason for optimism, if not immediately.

“I don't know if we're closer [to an agreement], but certainly we’re headed in the right direction,” Woods said Sunday after his round.

“That was a very positive meeting,” he continued, speaking of his March meeting with the head of LIV’s financial backer Yasir Al-Rumayyan, “and I think both sides came away from the meeting feeling positive.”

Thursday: 3D-printed triumph

DeChambeau has spent most of the last few years trying to recapture his form of 2020-21, when he was throttling golf courses and terrifying the golf world with his massive muscles. He’s slimmed down since then, but he hasn’t stopped tinkering, and this week, he brought his latest mad invention to Augusta: A 3-D printed set of irons that the USGA didn’t approvel until Tuesday.

DeChambeau carded a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead on Thursday. He’s a bit more humble now than the guy who claimed he could tame Augusta National a few years back, and perhaps in recognition of that, the golf gods put him back in contention at a major.

A weather delay Thursday pushed the start back by a few hours, enough to push the finish for a few pairings into Friday morning. Among that crew: Tiger Woods, who was done no favors by the Augusta National powers-that-be with late-early Thursday-Friday tee times. Woods would go on to make the cut — his record-breaking 24th straight at Augusta — and that was about all that was worth mentioning about his week.

Friday: The wind blows in

Here’s how strange Friday was at Augusta National: The wind was blowing hard enough to whip the sand out of the bunkers, and that wasn’t anywhere near the weirdest moment of the day. That honor belonged to DeChambeau, who lifted an entire sign out of the way of his second shot on 13, and carried it like a man shouldering a heavy burden

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 12: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States moves a sign while preparing to play his second shot on the 13th hole from the 14th fairway during the second round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Bryson DeChambeau moves a sign while preparing to play his second shot on the 13th hole from the 14th fairway during the second round of the 2024 Masters. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) (Maddie Meyer via Getty Images)

Also notable: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson directing a profanity at patrons after a triple-bogey on the 12th. (He claimed he wasn’t cursing at the gallery. He was.) And Jason Day wore a billboard-esque sweater that made him quite the social media sensation … right up to the moment that Augusta National asked him to remove it.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 12: Jason Day of Australia prepares for his shot from the 18th tee during the continuation of the first round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Jason Day was asked to take off his billboard sweater between the first and second rounds of the Masters. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) (Warren Little via Getty Images)

Masters week doesn’t truly begin until someone brings up the topic of why McIlroy hasn’t yet won a green jacket. This year, Woods was the one to broach the topic, casually throwing an extra truckload of pressure smack down onto McIlroy’s shoulders.

“Rory's too talented, too good. He's going to be playing this event for a very long time. He'll get it done. It's just a matter of when,” Woods said Tuesday morning. “Rory will be a great Masters champion one day, and it could be this week.” Spoiler: It wasn’t. After an opening-round 71, McIlroy carded a 5-over 77 on Friday to eject himself from the tournament and yet another opportunity for a major. Nine years, eight months and counting.

Saturday: Scheffler is inevitable

Scottie Scheffler had not carded an over-par round since last August, and days like Saturday are why. He was the best of a strong field that included Morikawa, Homa and Åberg, leading the field by a stroke going into Sunday … and that isn’t even the most exciting thing in his life right now. Scheffler’s wife Meredith is expecting, and he indicated he would drive right down Magnolia Lane and out of Augusta National early if necessary.

Scheffler is the single most dominant golfer in the game today, but for whatever reason, he simply doesn’t connect with fans. The patrons at Augusta National gave him polite applause, but nothing compared to the cheers they offered up for Max Homa — and, obviously, nothing like the tsunami of applause that follows Tiger Woods wherever he goes.

The Sunday before he won the Masters in 2022, Scheffler writhed in self-doubt. He said Saturday night that he doesn’t feel the same sort of nerves this year, in part because he’s turned this Masters week into the greatest buddies’ golf trip week possible. “I didn't want to be alone at the house,” he said, “so I recruited a few of my friends to come stay with me that were in town.”

Sunday: Meet at the top of the leaderboard

Sunday’s early pairings seemed to suggest that there were scores to be had on the tournament’s final day. Tom Kim carded a -6 and Kurt Kitayama a -4. Would someone charge from the depths of the leaderboard into the mix? Would Scheffler storm out to a big lead and wrap up the green jacket before the turn?

No and no, as it turned out. Scheffler, who began the day at -7, put some brief early distance between himself and the field, dipping as low as -8 with a birdie on the third, but gave that back with a bogey on the seventh. Morikawa started at -6 and stayed there for seven straight holes. Homa started at -5 and birdied the second to get into the mix at -6. Åberg birdied the second and the seventh to get to -6. To sum up: at 4:22 p.m, Scheffler, Åberg, Morikawa and Homa all shared the lead at -6.

But by 4:50 p.m., Scheffler was throwing in that dart at No. 9, and pretty soon everyone around him on the leaderboard was blowing up.

Most years, the Masters doesn’t begin until the second nine on Sunday, but this year, Scheffler ended the tournament before it even got there.