Scott has been on a winning bag at the Masters twice earlier, with Bubba Watson, but was intent on a career beyond the ropes. Earlier last year, Watson and Scott ended their partnership on amicable terms. The caddie had enough of looping and exploring coaching related opportunities when Scheffler asked the question.
It took a couple of weeks before Scott eventually said yes to the Texan. Since then, the duo, both religiously inclined, have worked like partners made in heaven. In seventy starts on the PGA TOUR, Scheffler hadn’t won any silver. But over the past eight weeks, he has won four of his six starts and won nearly nine million, cementing his place at the top of the rankings.
Despite three successful Sundays – Phoenix Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC Dell Match Play – the morning at Augusta left Scheffler both nervous and emotional.
“I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there telling Meredith, I don’t think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready, I don’t feel like I’m ready for this kind of stuff, and I just felt overwhelmed,” revealed Scheffler, comfortably dressed in the Green Jacket.
If you can four-putt the 72nd hole and still win the Masters by a three-stroke margin, it can all seem way too comfortable. But it was far from that in the 86th edition of the Masters Tournament, which turned into a special stage to showcase the steely resolve and generational skills of Scottie Scheffler.
Up by five after Friday, Scheffler retained a three-stroke advantage into the final round. But Augusta National is notorious for dissolving even the most seemingly comfortable cushion. The mythical course tends to sweep leaders away, breaking their nerves with its haunting combination of swirling winds and tall pines.
Not if you are Scottie Scheffler. The Texan showed remarkable composure under the lights on Sunday at the Masters. The test came early in the round too.
Cameron Smith, the PLAYERS champion, made Scheffler feel some Aussie breath with a pair of birdies to open the final round. The gap was down to just one. As they played the third, the world No. 1 needed to reassert himself. But neither player made the green in regulation rolling down the false front surrounding the elevated green.
Under the gun, Scheffler showed steel. A perfect wedge from 30 yards out on the par-4 third hole landed softly and carried just enough pace. The laser guided pitch and run never left the flag before the ball sank into the cup for an emphatic birdie. It brought out a big roar from the patrons even as it also stalled Smith in his tracks.
“I would say what is most pivotal was getting that ball up-and-down. To have it go in was obviously off the charts, but my main goal was just to get up-and-down, and see it go in was special. Parring 4 and 5 was huge as well,” said a delighted Scheffler.
“After that I kind of just started cruising. I felt comfortable with pretty much most of the aspects of my game. My swing maybe felt a little bit off, but other than that, I feel like I wasn’t ever really going to make a bogey. That was my goal. I just tried to hit good shots, and that’s really all I was thinking about.”
We will not know if it was reverence or fear, but the Aussie failed to make up and down from a similar spot around the green. The gap was back to three. The early threat was diminished by Scheffler with an iron fist.
His serene march through the front nine – two birdies and no losses – was interrupted by a bogey on the tenth. A hint of nervous energy started to escape through the creases on his brow as gleaming beads of sweat. It was after all the back nine on Sunday and Augusta National is famed for reminding even the Gods of golf into bouts of trepidation.
And then there was Rory McIlroy. Playing nearly an hour ahead of the final group, McIlroy seemed intent on turning the lights out for the leader. Out in 32, McIlroy poured some rocket fuel into his round with three birdies in four holes from the seventh and a soaring eagle on the 13th hole. Scheffler must have heard the roars from across the grounds playing the par-5 eighth for another steady par.
At the eighteenth, McIlroy skewed his approach right into the green side bunker. Aiming right of the flag, he caught the break to perfection. As he watched in sheer delight, the ball curled sharply left and into the cup to send the patrons around the final hole into raptures. McIlroy’s spotless 64 emulates the best Sunday rounds at the Masters, but it was only enough for second place.
In the end, Scheffler played with a steady hand and a calm head. There was hardly a tremor in his limbs to allow any dissipation over the final stretch. Birdies at the 14th and 15th all but secured the Green Jacket and despite a stutter on the 18th green, he was too far ahead for any of it to affect the result.
Scheffler must have returned home to some boardgames with his wife Meredith, still watching the fourth season of Friends. Only, he is now a Masters Champion for the rest of his life.