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Scottie Scheffler said he was going to try to enjoy his latest victory, a four-shot triumph at the 88th edition of the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, on Sunday.

“I will go home, soak in this victory tonight,” he said during his winner’s press conference after shooting 4-under 68 at Augusta National Golf Club.

Scheffler, who won the green jacket for a second time, did just that. When he got back to Dallas, he paid a visit to the Inwood Tavern to celebrate. Scheffler rocked the green jacket over the outfit he wore in the final round —though he did swap out his hat.

Scheffler had a private jet on standby not far from the course in case wife Meredith went into labor prematurely — they are expecting their first child later this month — and flew home Sunday night. During his press conference, he admitted that he was anxious to get home to his wife.

“In my head, all I can think about right now is getting home,” Scheffler said. “I’m not thinking about the tournament. I’m not thinking about the green jacket. I’m trying to answer your questions and I’m trying to get home.

“I wish I could soak this in a little bit more. Maybe I will tonight when I get home.”

Scheffler’s festivities don’t appear to rival the next-level British Open celebration in Ireland that commenced shortly after Shane Lowry won the British Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, but props to Scheffler for soaking in the triumph at one of his hometown’s old-school bars.

[golfweek.com]

 

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tony Finau was to the right of the 11th green at Augusta National trying to chip to an imaginary front pin, a tough shot when it matters. This was the first full day of practice Monday at the Masters, and it wasn’t any easier.

The first attempt rolled across the green and off the putting surface. So did the second.

It was like that all over the famed course, where the azaleas blooms are on their last leg and turf is firm under a blazing sun, save for a few minutes during the solar eclipse.

The conditions — always pristine, because everything is at Augusta National — is as good as players can remember. There is rain in the forecast for the opening round, but otherwise players are faced with what could be the two “F” words that take on different meanings to different games — firm and fast.

“The course is very firm,” Xander Schauffele said. “It’s probably some of the best shape I’ve seen in previous years, to be honest. I don’t know how the weather has been, but it’s a shame that it might rain at some point this week because it’s looking like a really hard, really firm.

“I was hitting 5-irons that were coming into par 5s that were bouncing, tomahawking over the green,” he said. “And I was like, ‘This is pretty cool.’ It’s been a while.”

Tiger Woods was first out when the course opened at 8 a.m. playing nine holes with Will Zalatoris. Several of them stopped in mid-afternoon to don special solar sunglasses — Masters green with the famous logo, sure to be a keepsake — for a look at the eclipse.

“Get to watch the end of the world at Augusta National, right?” British Open champion Brian Harman said with a grin.

This is the start of the major championship season, and the anticipation has been greater than ever, mainly because of the field. It’s the first time players from Saudi-funded LIV Golf are competing against those who stayed on PGA Tour. There is more curiosity than animosity, evident by Schauffele planning a practice round with Dustin Johnson.

There wasn’t a ton of planning that went into this.

“It’s Dustin,” Schauffele said. “I saw him and ... pretty on the fly.”

Johnson, among the first batch of players who defected to LIV, set the 72-hole record at 268 in the 2020 Masters in conditions as soft as any because it was played in November when the tournament was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If the course is playing hard and fast, it’s more difficult,” Hideki Matsuyama said, who won the year after Johnson. “Winning score is usually higher. When it’s wet, it can go to 20 under. I like both, but if goes to 20 under, my chances get slimmer. So I would like a tougher setup where it plays drier, faster and hard.”

Among players who chose not to play was Akshay Bhatia, for good reason. The Valero Texas Open was his fourth week in a row playing, and then his work was extended when he won in a playoff to qualify for the final spot in the Masters.

Bhatia’s left shoulder came out of its socket celebrating a playoff-forcing birdie putt on the final hole. He taped it up in time to hit wedge to the 18th on the first extra hole. And then he headed straight for Augusta and arrived about 1:30 a.m. Monday. Even for a 22-year-old, that’s a lot to take in.

“There’s still a lot to learn this week,” Bhatia said. “Just registering, getting the lay of the land. I’m going to talk to my psychologist this afternoon — he’s flying in tonight — and we’ll have a good game plan, some goals, and kind of get the ball rolling tomorrow.”

Bhatia is a true Masters rookie, one of 17 players (including four amateurs) who are competing at Augusta National for the first time.

Nick Taylor isn’t a rookie. He just feels like one. His only previous Masters was in 2020, when no patrons were allowed on the course because of the pandemic. The Par 3 Tournament was canceled because it’s mainly entertainment for the spectators and they weren’t there.

Taylor even skipped his ball across the pond on the par-3 16th, another Masters tradition that took a hiatus without fans in 2020.

“This is essentially my first true experience,” Taylor said. “Just having patrons out and stuff, that’s something I’ve not experienced. Even the locker room is a different spot now than it was when I was here, so I’m getting the lay of the land as the day is going.”

He couldn’t help but notice how much firmer it was from that November tournament in 2020. That’s going to be the real test at the Masters, depending on what the opening round holds.

[source: apnews.com]

Golf News Today

Nelly Korda wasn’t about to let her feat go unnoticed. At a time when Scottie Scheffler was dominating the PGA Tour and nearly won for the third straight start on Sunday, it was actually Korda who checked off that box.

The 25-year-old pro fired a seven-under 65 to come from behind and win the Ford Championship at Seville Golf and Country Club in Gilbert, Ariz., on Sunday, successfully securing her third straight win.

Korda also won last week’s FIR HILLS SERI PAK Championship, as well as her start before that, the LPGA Drive On Championship, in late January.

She’s the first player on the LPGA to win three straight starts since Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016 and the first American to do it since Nancy Lopez won five straight in 1978.

“It honestly feels like a blur,” Korda said. “Taking it day by day and really trying to stay very present, and just played really good golf, really solid golf in tough conditions today, which I’m really happy about.”

Korda’s bucking a trend, too. Last week was just the first time in her career she won despite not holding the 54-hole lead. Now, she’s made it two in a row.

Sarah Schmelzel, Carlota Ciganda and Hyo Joo Kim held the 54-hole lead at 15 under, but there was a ton of firepower near the top of the leaderboard. Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Korda were among a group of 10 players tied at 13 under, two off the lead.

On a rainy Sunday, Korda birdied 5, 6 and 9 to turn in three-under 33, and after birdies on 12 and 13 she got to 18 under to steal the solo lead away from a group that included Thompson, who is still looking for her first win since 2019. (Korda and Thompson now both have 11 career LPGA victories.)

Thompson was four under through seven holes.

“It was crazy conditions,” Thompson said, “but it was almost just like it gets to where it’s mental when it comes to these kinds of conditions.”

Hira Naveed jumped into the mix with a four-under back nine, and her birdies on 16 and 17 got her to 18 under. It was right around that same time Thompson birdied 14 to make it again a three-way tie for the lead.

But that’s when Korda, who didn’t make a bogey on Sunday, pulled away.

With Naveed finishing her round, Korda made a birdie on 16 to be the first to get to 19 under. On the short par-4, she laid up to her ideal wedge yardage and nearly knocked it in for eagle. She said afterward they changed up her game plan on that hole, but other than that the plan was to be aggressive.

“I knew I had to shoot a low one to be in contention,” she said, “and I just played really smart golf out there today.”

Behind her, Thompson seemed like the most likely player to catch Korda. But Thompson, one back at the time, rinsed one in the water from the tee on the short par-4 16th. She made bogey, and then another bogey on 17. A birdie on 18 wasn’t enough. She shot 68 and finished three back.

When Korda got to the par-5 18th, the math was already working in her favor. She got near the front of the green in two and then chipped close and made her birdie tap-in for 20 under. At that time, even with nine players who teed off behind her, it seemed like the win was hers. About 40 minutes later, it was. She won by two over Naveed.

In just four starts this season, Korda already has three wins. That’s one shy of her most in any season, when she won four times in 2021. As for if she can make it four in a row? We’ll find out next week, when she’s in the field at the T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas.

“It’s very hard mentally to be 100 percent, especially after a win and especially playing in tough conditions,” Korda said. “As boring as it sounds, I was just taking it shot by shot and seeing where I was going to end up, but to get three in a row, that’s just a dream come true.”

[source:golf.com]

Golf News Today

Scottie Scheffler burst onto the scene during the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, which was briefly interrupted by the pandemic.

Not many golfers and fans, both in and outside the sport, knew the talent Scheffler possessed at the time. Tony Finau was even one of those people.

“The first time I played with Scottie, I didn’t really know who he was because he was a rookie on the PGA Tour, and I played with him at TPC Boston,” Finau said Tuesday ahead of the Texas Children’s Houston Open.

“We’re playing together, and after nine holes, I think he shoots 7-under or whatever. I’m not really paying attention; I’m kind of focused on my own game. We get to the 17th, and he makes another birdie. I look over to my caddie, and I’m like, man, this guy’s got to be 8 or 9-under, and my caddie’s like, how about 11?”

During the second round of the 2020 Northern Trust, formerly the first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs held at TPC Boston, Scheffler went on a tear.

He birdied eight of his first 11 holes, as the rookie soared up the leaderboard in the process.

Three more birdies at the 14th, 15th, and 16th holes followed, and by the time he arrived at the par-5 18th, Scheffler needed a birdie to reach golf’s perfect score: an illustrious 59.

Unsurprisingly, Scheffler did, in fact, birdie the 18th, holing a 4-footer to shoot 59.

“I was playing with him, and that was the first time I heard of him; it was the first time that I played with him,” Finau said.

“So that gave you an idea—maybe not the first time I heard of him, but I vaguely knew who he was coming from the Korn Ferry Tour. I knew he was a good player. But anyways, that was the first time I played with Scottie; he shot a 59 at TPC Boston, and I knew he was special from that moment on.”

Scheffler finished fourth that week, 13 strokes behind Dustin Johnson, who shot a preposterous 30-under for the tournament. But Scheffler went on to qualify for the Tour Championship, an impressive feat for any PGA Tour player, let alone a rookie.

Since then, Scheffler has made the 2021 and 2023 Ryder Cup teams, triumphed at Augusta National in 2022, and ascended to the world’s number-one ranking. He currently has eight PGA Tour victories to his name, two of which have come in his last two starts.

“When he won the Masters, I played with him the first two rounds, and it was evident to me that he was going to be hoisting the green jacket after that on Friday,” Finau added.

His tee-to-green metrics have been off the charts for the past two seasons, leading many to compare him to Tiger Woods. Scheffler rarely makes a mistake and finds fairways and greens at a rate not seen since Woods in 2006, when he won The Open Championship and PGA Championship.

But Scheffler’s charming personality and love for his family are infectious, too.

“I played enough rounds with him to know how great of a player he is, but I think it doesn’t beat the person that he is,” Finau said.

“I think he’s pretty fantastic for our game, and it’s cool to see all the success that he’s having.”

[Source: sbnation.com]

Golf News Today

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Charm is one of golf’s most underrated qualities, and difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. Barbara Nicklaus has charm, Joel Dahmen’s caddie (Geno Bonnalie) has charm, Paul McGinley has charm. And here’s a shocker for you:

This Scottie Scheffler, a Texan by way of New Jersey, is loaded with charm.

If you haven’t seen him up-close and personal, you might not know.

Yes, Scottie Scheffler.

You might be saying: Well, how hard is it to be charming when all you do is win? After all, Scheffler won the Players Championship on Sunday. Also last year’s Players Championship. (He’s the first player in the Players’ 50 years to win in back-to-back years.) Also last week’s Bay Hill tournament. Also the 2022 Masters. He has eight PGA Tour wins in not even five years and says (credibly) that he has no interest in the guaranteed LIV Golf paydays. It’s refreshing (and charming) how quickly he dismisses the discussion, and how he blames the turmoil in professional golf on the various stars who left the PGA Tour for LIV in the first place. That is certainly an efficient and logical way to look at the whole thing.

As for the charm thing: perennial winning can be a charm killer. Consider the Yankees in their heyday and Tiger Woods in his; the New England Patriots in their heyday and Novak Djokovic in his. Greatness runs through that foursome, of course. But would you call those teams or superstars charming?

And then there is Scottie Scheffler. As there was something about Mary Jensen (There’s Something about Mary), there is something about Scottie. The way he ambles along the fairways, toes out. The way he looks almost klutzy in his follow-through, to say nothing of his herky-ish backswing. It’s a very Exit 11 (NJT) swing.

Not judging! This reporter has logged a lot of miles on the New Jersey Turnpike, and can recommend the shakes at the Shake Shack at the Molly Pitcher rest stop. As for Scheffler, to the question of Bruce or Willie, the answer is both.

Like!

Scottie Scheffler has to be the most mature 27-year-old the modern PGA Tour has ever seen, with a beard more rabbinical than piratical. It’s worth noting because he notes it, that Scheffler and his wife (Meredith) and his caddie (Ted Scott) are all devout Christians. For St. Patrick’s Day, Scheffler’s outfit featured pale lime-green pants with a color-coordinated belt. By the time he put the finishing touches on his Sunday 64, the front hem of his shirt was half out, right on brand for a player who cannot be bothered to make fastidious fashion choices. He’s lucky to have Nike to do the work for him, but you’re unlikely to see any Nike spots with a complete-the-Scottie-look theme.

And it’s a relief.

Scheffler won this 50th Players Championship from the driving range. He was in the house (charming phrase invented a century ago!) at 20 under. The crowd noise from the fans around the 18th green was better than any text alert he could get. It told him that the two players in the final twosome, Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark, both of whom had a chance to tie Scheffler on the last, had not done so. The cheer-groan is a phenomenon unique to golf. Long may it live.

Clark’s birdie putt on 18 was an 18-footer, It was tracking, until it wasn’t. Then the PVB chorus performed the lip-out groan.

“I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in,” Clark said moments later. Note the present tense. Like, given a second chance it would fall. 

The putt did spend a nanosecond inspecting the hole and its white upper liner, the current PGA Tour commissioner and his two living predecessors watching earnestly all the while. (The PGA Tour, in this season of iffy starts, finally got the week it needed.) Clark’s ball dipped into the hole at 9 o’clock but lost interest by 12. Clark’s stroke was confident and athletic, but for that putt to go in, it likely needed to knock first at 3 o’clock, with a hair less oomph.

Clark, a runner-up to Scheffler at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, buried his face in his hat.

Golf is a game of quarter-inches. Also (and this is a familiar but necessary refrain!) one where every shot makes somebody happy.

The groan reached Scheffler and Ted Scott, the caddie still, humbly, wearing his caddie bib. There would be no playoff. They embraced. It was quiet and joyous.

Scheffler shot rounds of 67, 69, 68 and 64 playing, at times, through headaches and neck pain, with a vertical strip of black therapeutic tape fastened to the back of his neck. The Sunday 64 is technically eight under par, as TPC Sawgrass (aka the Stadium Course) is technically a par 72. But in reality, with two very reachable par-5s, if not more, this course has become a par 70, in soft, still conditions. This is strange to say, but this former penal colony of a course has become, over the years, and in gentle conditions (dare we say it?). . . charming.

The greens were soft this year for four straight days. The breeze was manageable. The weather was consistent. The players were never pulled off the course (except for darkness on Thursday and Friday). You could get a rhythm going, even if you found yourself sitting in a folding chair and having an intra-round physical therapy sessions, as Scheffler did during his Friday round. Yes, totally permitted, as long as it doesn’t slow play. Scottie Scheffler does things by the book, even if his method is more than a bit unconventional.

Scottie Scheffler looks like a 1950s Ohio State linebacker who found his way to golf. He sounds like a State Farm agent who won the lottery. He expresses himself as someone with balance in is life. He seems normal. Normal!

At his Sunday-night press conference, Scheffler was asked to explain his very being, and this, lightly edited, is what he said: 

“Being in this environment today, being in the arena on days like today, is a ton of fun. It doesn’t change me as a person when I go home. Flying home tonight’s going to look pretty similar to what it would if I had finished second this week. Obviously, I have a bit different feelings, it would be tough, but at the end of the day, I have a great support system at home. I have a great wife, great parents, great siblings, and I’m just thankful to be out here playing on Tour.

“If I started taking my trophies and putting them all over the house and walking in acting all big-time, I think my wife would smack me on the side of the head and tell me to get over myself pretty quickly. Winning golf tournaments doesn’t give me any brownie points at home.”

He’s good at golf. Yes, that’s about it. Scottie Scheffler is good at golf, and that really is about it. How refreshing.

[golfnews.com]

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