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Masters: Brilliant Scheffler exudes invincibility as he secures second green jacket

World number one secures second Major title after closing 68 earns him four-stroke win

The great ones exude an aura of invincibility, and for Scottie Scheffler, while others faltered, his route to a second green jacket in three years was sure-footed and achieved with considerable aplomb as his mind remained focused on the task at hand and his shot-making and distance control set him apart from all others.

On a beautifully sunny day, a final round 68 for an 11-under-par total of 277 gave Scheffler a dominant win, four strokes clear of Sweden’s Ludvig Åberg with the trio of Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Tommy Fleetwood – who finished with a bogey-free 69 to leapfrog his way up the leaderboard – sharing third position, a further three shots adrift.

There were no distractions for Scheffler, least of all the sound of any medical bleeper – with his wife Meredith due the couple’s first child – which may have required some detour. No such decision, however, was needed and Scheffler’s task was aided and abetted by some serious errors from those would-be pretenders who failed to deliver on their intent.

Åberg, the 24-year-old Swede in his maiden Major championship appearance, had moved into position to pose a threat until a sling-hooked 5-iron approach to the 11th green found a watery grave, as he ran up a double-bogey six. Still, he recovered to claim solo runner-up after a 69 for 281.


Morikawa’s stumble had come on the ninth hole, where his tee shot finished on the pine straws amid the cathedral pines and the two-time Major champion ran up a costly double-bogey six that was followed two holes later – a la Åberg – with a double bogey on the 11th. His quest was run.

Homa’s own bid for a green jacket was cruelly undone by a wicked bounce on the angelic par-3 12th, where his tee-shot – which looked so good in the air – hit a downslope and kicked on into the bushes at the rear of the green. A penalty drop, a chip and two putts later, and he was signing for a double-bogey five.

One by one, each of Scheffler’s challengers self-destructed. But not Scheffler, as the world one extended his brilliant formline of late to a run of 1st-1st-2nd-1st which has set him apart from all others.

The 27-year-old American had carried a one-stroke lead into the final round and found himself in a share of the lead with Åberg, Homa and Morikawa until a birdie on the par-5 eighth saw him then share the lead only with Morikawa. He birdied the ninth for the solo lead and then the 10th for a hat-trick and recovered from a bogey on the 11th with birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th to move beyond one and all.

Scheffler was only making his way to Amen Corner, that stretch from the 11th green to the 13th hole, when Rory McIlroy’s work was already done. The career Grand Slam, if it ever comes his way, will wait for another year at least after he finished with a 73 for 292 in tied-23rd position that had his emotions running between frustration and philosophical.

“I don’t really know what to say,” remarked McIlroy, before collecting his thoughts. “I guess it’s more of the same of what I’ve shown this year. It’s not as if it’s been a down week in comparison to the way I’ve been playing. It’s just a matter of me trying to get my game in a bit better shape going towards the rest of the season.”

At this point it might seem like a fruitless search for El Dorado, or the Holy Grail; yet, McIlroy has plotted a route going forward to make it all attainable with another busy schedule going forward – playing the next two weeks, in the Heritage and the Zurich Classic – and then taking a week off before playing the Wells Fargo the week before the US PGA Championship.

“I need to take a little bit of time and reflect on this week and what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, and sort of try to make a plan for the next few months, especially from here going through obviously the end of July. It’s Major season, they’re going to come thick and fast, so hopefully I get myself in a bit better form for those last three,” said McIlroy.

For McIlroy, the world number two, and without a Major title in the 10 years since he last lifted the Wanamaker Trophy in 2014, the actions and deeds of Scheffler have set a high bar to match. No pressure.

And especially when you consider the altitude Scheffler has scaled. The last player to win the Arnold Palmer, the Players and the Masters in the same season? Tiger Woods, in 2001. That’s the rarefied air Scheffler has moved into.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times