Scottie Scheffler's Journey from Junior Golfer to Major Champion
Perhaps Scottie Scheffler just wanted to keep the moment going for as long as possible, and that’s why he four-putted the 72nd green at the Masters.
Sometimes the moment can overwhelm, but time after time Scheffler rose to the occasion at Augusta National this week – and now he’s a major champion.
Scheffler, who is taught by PGA of America member Randy Smith, shot a 1-under 71 Sunday at Augusta National and finished 10 under for the week. He topped two-time PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy by three. The Green Jacket victory was an exclamation point on a torrid stretch of golf for Scheffler, who has now won four of his last six starts. He earned his first four PGA Tour titles in the shortest timespan in Tour history, and is the first person to win four times in a season by the Masters since David Duval in 1999.
After Scheffler’s victory at the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play, he ascended to world No. 1, a ranked he’ll cement after this week. The Texan has been taught by Smith since the young star was in elementary school. Based at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas, Smith started his teaching career working with Justin Leonard. He’s an 18-time PGA of America National Award winner and is a PGA of America Hall of Famer.
Although Scheffler has long broken-through on Tour and should no longer be considered just an up-and-comer (he won Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year honors in 2019 before being named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2020) he was still humbled by the enormity of winning the Masters.
“I’ve dreamed about having a chance of (just) playing this tournament,” said Scheffler. “I teared up the first time I got my invitation in the mail. We were fortunate enough to play here in college and I love this place. I love this golf course and if you’re going to choose a golf tournament to win this would be the one I’d want to win.”
Fellow Texan Will Zalatoris – who finished tied for sixth at the Masters – said Scheffler was just another product of the “pipeline” of good players from Dallas.
“Northern Texas PGA is a really great junior series, and we've been playing together for 16 years now,” said Zalatoris of Scheffler and Jordan Spieth. “On top of that, any given day back home there's a good chance that Scottie, Jordan or I are playing together.”
Zalatoris said he and Scheffler started playing together when they were nine, and he’s always seen Scheffler as a top-tier kind of player.
“The kid had a great short game back then. He was a gamer. He wore pants to every tournament even if it was 110 degrees,” said Zalatoris. “He tried to be a professional at a young age, and obviously seeing what he is doing now, it's pretty cool on my part to see it.”
Scheffler started the day making birdies on No’s 3 and 7. He bogeyed 10 to open the door to his chasers just a crack, but after Cameron Smith – his playing partner on Sunday – dunked his tee shot in the water on the tricky par-3 12th, the tournament very quickly became Scheffler’s to lose.
Smith managed to close the gap to just a single stroke after he started the day making back-to-back birdies on the first and second hole at Augusta National. But Smith bogeyed the par-4 3rd, and Scheffler chipped in for birdied with a nifty bump-and-run effort.
Scheffler added birdies on No’s 14 and 15 and enjoyed the walk after that. The double bogey on 18 – after the aforementioned four-putt – mattered little.
“I was fortunate to put myself in a position where I was in control of the tournament today, so I didn't have to worry about what anyone else was doing out there,” said Scheffler. “If I took care of my stuff and played good solid golf, I felt like I would get the job done. That was the goal going into today was to just keep my head down.”
With the Green Jacket now added to his closet, Scheffler will continue to keep his head down – and focus on winning the Wanamaker Trophy.