Scottie Scheffler on the final round of the 2022 Masters, Augusta, USA
Scottie Scheffler on the final round of the 2022 Masters, Augusta, USA | (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Golf | Masters 2022 | 5 things we learnt as Scheffler claims Green Jacket at Augusta

By Neil Leverett

  • Scottie Scheffler wins Green Jacket at Augusta National with three-stroke victory
  • World number one claims first major winning a Tour first fourth win in six starts
  • McIlroy hits joint-Sunday low 64 to finish runner-up; Woods comeback falls flat but inspires
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – After Scottie Scheffler’s dominant first major win in claiming the Green Jacket at Augusta what did we learn from the 86th Masters?


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Scheffler a class apart

He was the man in form before the tournament began and sure enough, Scottie Scheffler proved his number one in the world ranking was no fluke as he claimed his first major on Sunday at the Augusta National.

Taking his place in the Butler Cabin alongside fellow golfing greats, Scheffler’s performance in the 86th Masters was one of maturity, class and composure to finish three strokes ahead of the pack.

Having won three of his last five starts on the PGA Tour, the 25-year-old’s remarkable 42-day surge from winning the WM Phoenix Open to the top of the rankings has smashed all records but his dominant win at Augusta was also one of far greater breeding.

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Just two off the lead going into Friday, the New Jersey native then hit a sublime 67 to lead the field by five into the weekend. It was a lead he held onto for the duration.

That is not to say however, that his final 36 holes did not go without a wobble or two.

Having negotiated a difficult patch on Saturday’s back nine, Scheffler stood on the 18th tee with a lead of four only to wildly send his drive left and into the trees.

Forced to then drop out from under a bush and play one of the great escape shots at Augusta, a bogey was scrambled to still hold a three-shot lead into the final round.

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During which, it was his near miracle chip in from off the green at the third where Scheffler’s fortune veered sharply back in his direction.

With Cam Smith having birdied the 1st and 2nd holes, the Australian was hunting and just one shot behind. Scheffler stunning converted – a shot which could have raced far past the pin – as his playing partner then recorded five and then bogeyed the 4th also.

It was a remarkable and rapid swing in fortune that determined the outcome.

Such was the class he had shown throughout the four days, Scheffler had barely batted an eyelid when the pressure came. His only chink came with a barely believable four-putt double-bogey at the last, but given he had finally fully relaxed that could be forgiven.

There have been winners by bigger cushions in the past, but Scheffler’s win was one of the best.


No one-season wonder

It would be easy to suggest that Scheffler’s scintillating run of form of the last two months could be a flash in the pan, but the truth is the newest owner of the famed Green Jacket has been moving up on the rails for some time.

Though without a Tour win until two months ago, the man who moved to Dallas in his youth won Korn Ferry Player of the Year in 2019 and the year later won PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

In his last two PGA Championships also, T4 and T8 have been followed by a T7 at the US Open last year and an impressive T8 at Royal St. George’s in first Open Championship. The progress has been there.

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It should also not be forgotten, that Scheffler played no small part in the USA’s thrashing of Europe at Whistling Straits even if his efforts were rather overshadowed by the likes of Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa.

Indeed, in his first Ryder Cup, Scheffler took 2.5 points from his three matches and went unbeaten – taking apart then world number one Jon Rahm 4 & 3.

So his win is far from out of the blue – just like Hideki Matsuyama‘s was 12 months ago. The question now is, could Scheffler go on to dominate?

With Southern Hills hosting the PGA Championship next up in Oklahoma – the same course Scheffler calls his favourite course in golf – at the very least, the rest of his 2022 major season could be very special indeed.


Has the real McIlroy stood up?

As Rory McIlroy went arrived at Augusta looking to end an eight-year major drought, so too did the Northern Irishman eye completing the Grand Slam. Once more though it was not to be but the 86th Masters eventually saw McIlroy’s very best.

Having missed the cut last year, the four-time major winner only made the weekend by two shots, with little sign of a sensational Sunday to come.

Starting the day +1, only a superhuman effort and a collapse from the leaders would allow McIlroy into the frame, but as Sunday rolled along, the hype machine chugged into life.

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Though one could argue the pressure was somewhat off, to his immense credit McIlroy reeled off birdies at 7, 8 and 10 to close to within six, but when an eagle three came at 13 after Amen Corner, just four shots was the gap and the excitement was spreading. Could Rory really do it?

Missing a golden chance at 15 however, McIlroy was forced to gamble and found the sand at the final hole, then again with his approach to the green.

Needing to a miracle for a three in the bunker, McIlroy produced a Woods-esque act of magic to send the patrons into raptures.

Carding a bogey-free 64, McIlroy’s score was the joint-lowest on a Sunday; but it was still a way short. And once again, the Northern Irishman’s early failings were costly.

As Thursday’s early storms and fog lifted from the resplendent Georgian landscape, Augusta was in rare benevolent mood and played some of the kindest conditions it has in some time.

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With the names assembling at the top of the pack on the opening round – Scheffler, Smith, Cantlay, Johnson – McIlroy could only put down a 73 and replicated it on Friday to sit +2 into the weekend and 10 off the lead.

Hitting 71 in round 3, the 10-shot margin remained into the final round. Because of which, McIlroy’s efforts on Sunday were ever the more sensational and yet from the perspective of his fans, frustrating.

So is this the first sign of the real Rory McIlroy from 2014? Will he claim his fifth major in 2022? That remains to be seen.


Tiger inspires in latest comeback

For both pundits and fans alike, Tiger Woods‘ Hall of Fame induction last month at Sawgrass was a pointer toward the end of the career of perhaps the greatest player the game has ever seen. It appears that was not the case.

When confirmation came last week that Woods would return to golf 14 months after the same high speed car crash that threatened his ever picking up a club again, the sight of the great man on the 1st tee on Thursday was a sight for sore eyes.

Ending his first 18 holes back just four off the lead at -1, could the Tiger stir up similar memories of his remarkable 2019 win and challenge for a sixth Masters crown?

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As an unseasonably cool wind blew into Augusta on Friday, alas, the 42-year-old’s already ailing body would surely have been stiffer than a Maplewood backboard, never mind the plummeting temperatures in the Peach State.

On his initial return in 2018 from back surgery, Woods was not shy in avoiding links-style tournaments due to their inclement conditions and with more than the odd sight of a snood on the course, Tiger’s 71 on Thursday slipped to 74 in round two.

As a labouring Woods battled to rise to the throngs of patrons that followed his progress, after the cut that was made – a feat many did see transpiring – there then followed a capitulation across the weekend with two 78s to finish his Masters.

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A score of +13 would see a bottom six finish, yet, as a now visibly aged and rather weary expression came across Woods’ face as he climbed the slope to the 18th green on Sunday, the emotion was there for all to soak in much like it had been three years before.

Realistically then, what are Tiger’s goals going forward?

As he confirmed to Cara Banks on Sky Sports after his round, he will play at the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrew’s in July, but his participation at Southern Hills or indeed for the US Open at Brookline remains in doubt.

For now though, golf needed Tiger’s latest return. And, he might just be around for a while longer yet.


Cam’s watery grave; Thomas errant; Conners impresses

For Cam Smith, it was a case of what might have been.

Having finished T2 two years back, the Australian was a charging force on Saturday and during the early throes of the final 18 holes, but two sliding doors moments saw his Butler Cabin dreams disappear.

The first as documented came with the two-shot swing at Flowering Peach but having birdied 11 and again on a surge, Amen Corner, in particular Golden Bell, claimed its latest victim.

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Finding the water at the 12th, Smith’s relief shot found the back of the treacherous green forcing a two-putt to record a triple-bogey six, to drop from -7 to -4. It was a hammer blow.

Eventually coming home T3, it was his fourth top-10 finish in five years but for the Players champion of only a month ago this one will sting for a while.

Justin Thomas meanwhile, continues to amaze and bemuse. Still seeking his second major, after his opening 76 left his place past the cut in serious doubt, the Kentuckian roared back with a 67 and again held steady with a 72 on Saturday.

Still in with a shout of a decent placing, Thomas’ final round was though was a picture of polarity; six birdies but four bogeys and a double. As if to demonstrate yet another seesaw conclusion to a Masters, Thomas went 5-5-5 at 10, 11 and 12 only then to put down a 3-4-2 and 14, 15 and 16.

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Thomas undoubtedly has the game to end his five-year wait for another of the big four, but he must tidy his game up.

The same could be said of Corey Conners, but whose latest T6 was a two-place step up on last year and now his third top-10 finish on the bounce at Augusta.

Having improved by two places each year, Conners remains on an upward curve. Though his short game continues to fail him too often, his iron play is amongst the best around. The Canadian remains one to watch.


The 2022 PGA Championship begins at Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday 19 May.