AUGUSTA, Georgia — Scottie Scheffler had wanted to be a professional golfer for so long that he wore pants to classes at the Royal Oaks in Dallas and even to junior tournaments, no matter how sweltering the Texas heat was.
He could never have imagined what he would look like in a green jacket.
Winning the Masters is every junior golfer’s dream, especially in Texas with its legacy of champions from Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan to Ben Crenshaw and Charles Coody to Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
Scheffler was no ordinary kid, and that hasn’t changed.
“I’ve never been someone who likes to look too far into the future,” Scheffler said Sunday night, still trying to grasp the magnitude of his three-shot win at Augusta National.
Tiger Woods spoke over the weekend of that window of opportunity when a player gets hot, whether it’s Fred Couples in 1992 or Woods on more occasions than he can remember. The hope is that the window will feature a major on the calendar, and Scheffler’s run came at an ideal time.
He won the Phoenix Open, Bay Hill and Match Play in seven weeks. The last one sent him to world No. 1, and the next stop was Augusta.
But as he sat in the butler’s cabin waiting to slip on the green jacket for the first time, he was asked when he first dreamed of such an occasion.
“It probably first crossed my mind on Friday afternoon after we were done,” Scheffler replied.
“For real?” came the answer.
Yes, really. Scheffler has spoken for the past two months of only having one chance to compete. That was the dream. What brought him to tears was his first invitation in the mail when he qualified for his first Masters, which was rescheduled to November 2020.
win champion? Only after he built a five-shot lead after the second round and held a three-shot lead through to the final day.
At Scheffler, everything revolves around the competition. That hasn’t changed.
Randy Smith can spin yarn about seeing Scheffler sit on the range at Royal Oaks at the age of 10, watching and listening to tour pros form shots and converse. And then he would challenge them to short game competitions or putting green competitions, and if he wasn’t taking money from them, he was scratching their egos.
“He was a gamer,” said Will Zlatoris, who grew up with Scheffler in the Dallas area. “He wore pants to every tournament, even if it was 110 degrees. He tried to be a pro from a young age and of course it’s pretty cool to see what he’s doing now.”
That short game was a big part of his Masters win. The final score was closer than it really was. Scheffler had a five-shot lead and eventually took off his blinders to soak up the atmosphere, then absentmindedly made four putts for a double bogey. He shot 71 instead of 69. He won by three instead of five. Those are just numbers in a record book.
Cameron Smith made a quick run with birdies on the first two holes that cut the lead in one shot, and Scheffler responded with perhaps the most significant shot of the last round. His chip on the steep slope at #3 slammed against the pin and went for the birdie, and Smith’s bogey made it a two-shot swing.
Missed was the ups and downs behind the first green – one of the worst courses in Augusta, especially for someone trying to win their first Major – and the playing field from long and left on the par 3 fourth.
“If I had to pick one part of my game that stood out the most, I’d say it was probably my lob wedge,” Scheffler said. “Today, too, I had some really good ups and downs at the beginning of the lap and then just kept in position.”
He didn’t get quarters for some of his big putts, just pars, and they were worth a lot.
After starting the back nine with a careless bogey off the fairway, Scheffler missed the 11th green on the right and pitched to 7 feet. Smith birdied and Scheffler rolled his par putt to hold the three-shot lead.
Soon all that was left was a walk up the 18th fairway, a trip to the butler cabin, the green jacket. It’s the stuff of dreams, even if it was never his.
Scheffler is No. 1 by some margin, and no one can doubt that he’s earned the rankings on the quality of his victories — one World Golf Championship, one Major, a multitude of courses and tests.
“You get into those hot spots and you just have to sit through them because unfortunately they don’t last forever,” Justin Thomas said. “But he does it in the biggest tournaments. It’s not like he wins small events or Bahamas where there are 20 people. He wins WGCs. He now wins a major.
“It’s really, really impressive to see someone so young absorbing such a big moment so easily.”