Scottie Scheffler steps up on Augusta National's back nine to claim his second Masters
15 Apr,2024 Credit : Warren Little - Getty Images

By Tim Liotta


Scottie Scheffler steps up on Augusta National's back nine to claim his second Masters

While his closest rivals fell away with double bogeys, Scottie Scheffler closed out the 2024 Masters with a 3-under-par back nine for a final-round 68 and a four-shot victory and his second Masters championship in three years. 

Scheffler showed why he is the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Rankings with a shot-making clinic in which he posted six birdies over the last 11 holes to finish 11-under-par for his second major championship victory in 18 career major appearances. 

Scheffler broke away with three birdies in a row on 8, 9 & 10, then closed things out with birdies on 13, 14 and 16 to become the fourth-youngest player to win multiple Masters, behind Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros. Collin Morikawa suffered a double-bogeys on 9 & 11, Ludvig Aberg double-bogeyed 11, and Max Homa double-bogeyed 12. 

The victory was Scheffler's third in his last four starts, including the Players Championship in March, as he has put a stranglehold on the world's' top spot. Scheffler also became the third player to win a Players and the Masters multiple times, joining Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Only the 24-year-old Aberg, playing in his first major championship, gave Scheffler any resistance with birdies on 13 & 14, forcing Scheffler to two-putt from xx feet on 13 to stay clear. Aberg was the only player to finish within seven shots of the winner. 

"Everyone in my position, they are going to want to be major champions," said Aberg. "... It's been that way ever since I picked up a golf club, and that hasn't changed. So I think this week solidifies a lot of those things are there, and we just need to keep doing those things and put ourselves in positions to win tournaments, I think."

Aberg introduced himself to major-championship competition by playing a final round with just the double-bogey to go with five birdies for a 3-under-par 69. He made just six bogeys and two doubles to go with 17 birdies in the tournament, an amazing display of major-championship discipline for a player playing under major championship conditions for the first time.

The story that evolved as the shadows began to cross Augusta National on Sunday was that Scheffler simply has more game that deals with pressure and the ups-and-downs that go with a round of golf than any of the other top professional golfers. 

Playing a lightning-fast course through Friday's brutal winds (Friday) and a Saturday nearly offering nearly as difficult a setup, Scheffler played Augusta National's par-5s in 9-under-par, making only nine bogeys and one double bogey to go with 20 birdies and one eagle, to finish at 11-under 277, a performance nearly identical statistally to his first Masters victory, but more impressive because of the conditions. 

When he won the Masters in 2022, Scheffler played the par-5s in 8-under-par, made nine bogeys and one double to go with 21 birdies and one eagle, winning by four shots with a 12-under-par 276. 

The first seven holes were a bit of a struggle for Scheffler, who was 1-over-par through seven holes, but got things started with an easy birdie on 8 followed by a wedge from 89 yards right over the flag that spun back to three inches for a tap-in birdie.

"I hadn't hit very many good iron shots, which is unusual for me," Scheffler said of his approach on No. 9. "I'd hit some good ones, but they weren't ending up where they were supposed to. I had that bogey there on 7, and that nice birdie putt on 8. It was nice to go to 9 and get that feeling of a really well-struck shot. And then it kind of set me to have a really nice back nine."

Scheffler is one of five players to come to the Masters ranked No. 1 in the world and win the tournament, and he was doing it for the second time.. Ian Woosnam (1991), Fred Couples (1992), Tiger Woods (2001, 2002) and Dustin Johnson (2020) have also accomplished the feat.

When Scheffler reached Butler Cabin for the Green Jacket ceremony, he received the jacket from Jon Rahm, on whose shoulders he had placed the jacket a year ago. The last time a player had that happen came in 1965 when Jack Nicklaus received the jacket from Arnold Palmer, who received it from Jack in 1964. 

Scheffler began the day with a one-shot lead over two-time major champion, and the two were paired in the final group. 

The last time the Masters' final group included two players who were in their 20s and were already majors champions was back in 1965 when Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player formed the final twosome. The 25-year-old Nicklaus would earn the second of his six Masters titles with a nine-shot victory over Player and Arnold Palmer, who tied for second. 

Morikawa played with Scheffler iron shot for iron through the first eight holes until the ninth hole when he pushed his drive right, punched up to the front bunker, left his first sand shot in the bunker before blasting out and two-putting for double bogey. Morikawa missed several good looks early, and finished the tournament having made only seven bogeys to go with his two final-round doubles. 

"I got greedy. When you're playing really good you don't get greedy, and I got greedy on 9, and I got greedy on 11," said Morikawa, who finished tied for third. "I wasn't pressing. I was just trying to hit it too close. 

Morikawa's T3 was his best Masters finish in five tries, giving him two top-5s, three top-10s and four top-20s since 2020. 

Aberg continued to show that no moment is too big for him. The 24-year-old who turned pro last June, has won on the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour, and played a key role in Europe's 2023 Ryder Cup victory showed off

Max Homa posted his best-ever Masters and major championship finish with his T3, making only six bogeys the entire tournament. He never made more than two bogeys in a round, and from the 12th hole Friday through the sixth hole Sunday, he played 31 holes with only one bogey. The other side of that was a 33-hole stretch from the fourth hole Friday through the first hole Sunday without a birdie.

"I thought I handled myself great, didn't make any putts, really didn't feel like I blinked," Homa said. "Would have loved the ball on 12 not to go in the foot of ivy. But I hit a good shot, and I think I did that all weekend."

Tommy Fleetwood climbed to a T4 by playing a bogey-free 3-under-par 69 on Sunday that never threatened the top of the leaderboard. Posting four rounds at par or better for the week, Fleetwood adds his T4 to a T10 in last year's Open Championship and a T5 in the 2023 U.S. Open. While he made only bogeys in the tournament, he only made 11 birdies and played the par-5s in 3-under-par.  

"Of course to get into any kind of serious contention, I guess I needed a much lower (score) and I needed a few more fireworks. But the golf course isn't giving much away."

Sunday rounds of note:

Tom Kim set the tone early for what was possible Sunday, shooting a 6-under-par 66 playing in the fourth group out, a 9:45am tee time. Kim carded seven birdies against one bogey, reeled off four birdies in a row from holes 9-to-12 and added birdies on 15 & 16 en route to a back-nine, 4-under 32. 

Defending champ Jon Rahm struggled to a 4-under-par 76 that included a pair of double bogeys and three 6s on his card. He played the four par-5s in 2-over-par without making a birdie. 

Rory McIlroy finished with a 1-over-par 73 that saw him bogey the first hole before he played the four par-5s in 1-under-par. After two missed-cuts in previous three Masters, it appears Rory is no closer to solving his Augusta National riddle than he has been since blowing up to an 80 in the final round of 2011. 

Tiger Woods finished last in the field of 60 who made the cut, posting a 5-over 77 on Sunday. Woods posted his lone birdie on No. 2 but suffered a triple-bogey 7 on the fifth hole. After a bogey on six, he strung together 11 pars with a bogey on No. 15.