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Scheffler Masters His Game

Scheffler Masters His Game

Scottie Scheffler unstoppable and wins another Masters green jacket

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler spent more time looking at his feet than any of the white leaderboards at Augusta National, all of them showing what everyone was watching — a Masters champion again, the undisputed best player in golf.

He prefers to stay in his own little world, population one.

Nobody is close to him in the game at the moment.

Scheffler is No. 1 in the world by a margin not seen since Tiger Woods in his prime. In nine tournaments this year, he doesn’t have a round over par and has earned over $15 million. And on Sunday, he delivered the greatest piece of evidence when he slipped into that green jacket.

Scheffler pulled ahead with magnificent shots around the turn, poured it on along the back nine as his challengers melted away with mistakes and closed with a 4-under 68 to claim his second Masters in three years with a four-shot victory.

“I had a lot of really talented players trying to chase me down, and I knew pars weren’t going to get it done,” Scheffler said.Unlike two years ago when he won his first major, there were no doubts Sunday morning, no tears, and no wife to reassure him he was built for a moment like this. His wife, Meredith, was home in Dallas expecting their first child at the end of the month.

Scheffler made sure there was no drama, either.

Much like Woods he made the outcome look inevitable with sublime control, the difference being a peach shirt instead of Sunday red, and no fist pumps until it was over.

After sharing hugs with caddie Ted Scott and Collin Morikawa, Scheffler turned to face the crowd with both arms raised. “WOOOOOO!” he yelled, slamming his fist.

Masters newcomer Ludvig Aberg, among four players who had a share of the lead at one point, lost ground with his approach went into the pond left of the 11th hole and he made double bogey. Against a player like Scheffler, those mistakes are not easy to overcome.

Aberg closed with a 69 and was the runner-up, not a bad debut for someone playing in his first major championship.

Morikawa, who had two double bogeys to fall out of the hunt, shot 74 and tied for third with Tommy Fleetwood (69) and Max Homa (73), whose hopes ended on the par-3 12th with a double bogey from the bushes, not Rae’s Creek.

“He is pretty amazing at letting things roll off his back and stepping up to very difficult golf shots and treating them like their own,” Homa said about Scheffler. “He’s obviously a tremendous talent, but I think that is his superpower.”

Woods, meanwhile, closed with a 77 and finished in last place at 16-over 304, the highest 72-hole score of his career. This came two days after he set the Masters record for making his 24th consecutive cut.

The 27-year-old Scheffler is the fourth-youngest player to have two green jackets. He now has three victories against the strongest fields — Bay Hill, The Players Championship and the Masters — in his last four starts. The other was a runner-up finish in Houston.

Scheffler finished at 11-under 277 and earned $3.6 million from the $20 million purse.

Source: APnews

Bhatia Earns a Spot In The Masters

Bhatia Earns a Spot In The Masters

Akshay Bhatia overcomes furious rally, separated shoulder to win Texas Open and earn Masters trip

SAN ANTONIO — Akshay Bhatia nearly celebrated too soon Sunday, hurting his left shoulder while pumping his arms on a 12-foot birdie to force a playoff. He recovered to make birdie on the first extra hole and win the Valero Texas Open over hard-luck Denny McCarthy to earn a trip to the Masters.

It was a wild finish on so many levels.

McCarthy was six shots behind going to the back nine at the TPC San Antonio when he birdied eight of the nine holes — including the last seven — making a 12-foot birdie for a 9-under 63. Bhatia had to make his birdie putt from the same range to have a chance.

He made it for a 67, raising his arms to shake them in his clutch moment. And that’s when he felt his shoulder — which he says has given him trouble before — pop out of its socket.

Bhatia hit his tee shot and laid up with a 5-iron on the par-5 18th in the playoff.

McCarthy, playing in his 174th PGA Tour event without winning, was first to play and chunked a wedge so badly that he immediately hung his head. The ball came up some 20 yards short into the middle of a creek.

And then Bhatia called for treatment, jogging off the course briefly to get his shoulder taped. He returned and hit wedge to 6 feet. Needing three putts to win, he holed it to win for the second time on the PGA Tour.

“Man, what a crazy, crazy day,” Bhatia said.

The 22-year-old Bhatia, who turned pro five years ago, won at the Barracuda Championship last summer. It was held opposite The Open, so it did not get him into the Masters.

This one did, his first trip to Augusta National. And it came 10 years after Bhatia played in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at the home of the Masters. Now he gets to play on more than just the 18th green, and he fulfilled his mother’s wish.

“This is awesome,” he said. “It’s hard to win out there as it showed today. My mom’s birthday was April 1 and her wish was to go to the Masters.”

McCarthy had already earned his spot from finishing in the top 50 in the world last year, but all that mattered in this moment was that elusive PGA Tour trophy. He lost in a playoff last year at the Memorial to Viktor Hovland.

This might have been even more crushing given the circumstances. McCarthy looked to have no chance after Bhatia, who started the final round with a four-shot lead, birdied three of the opening four holes and stretched his advantage to six shots at the turn.

There was a two-shot swing on the 10th when Bhatia missed a 5-foot par putt and McCarthy, one of the best putters on Tour, holed an 18-footer for birdie. Bhatia answered with a birdie on the 11th, and then it was the McCarthy Show the rest of the way.

He made a 30-footer on the 12th, drilled a 5-iron on the long par-3 13th to 4 feet, made from 10 feet on the par-5 14th, holed a 40-foot chip on the 15th and closed within one shot with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 16th.

Bhatia missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the reachable par-4 17th — McCarthy got up-and-down from the rough for birdie — and they were tied going to the 18th.

McCarthy made his birdie putt first, and stood to the side, as close as he has been to winning. And then Bhatia delivered a clutch moment of his own to match him at 20-under 268, forcing a playoff that ended badly for McCarthy.

“Wish I could have had that wedge shot back there,” McCarthy said. “I backed off a couple times. There was a bug on my ball and some noise in the stands and a bug jumped back on my ball. I probably should have backed away again, but I thought I could kind of not let it distract me and maybe it did a little. Maybe a learning experience for me.”

Rory McIlroy closed with a 66 to finish alone in third in his final event before the Masters, the one major keeping him from the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy was runner-up and won in consecutive weeks in Dubai to start the year. This was his first top 10 on the PGA Tour.

“I’m in a better spot than I was a few weeks ago,” he said. “It was nice to see a round like this today, nice to play a golf tournament where ... I’m obviously going to finish quite a few shots behind Denny and Akshay, but still, I played pretty solid in some tough conditions.”

He finished nine shots out of the playoff.

Bhatia will be the first Drive, Chip and Putt finalist to play in the Masters. The competition has been one of several innovations from Augusta National. It also started the Asia-Pacific Amateur, where a young champion Hideki Matsuyama went on to capture a green jacket.

“I got the goal I had in mind,” Bhatia said.

That includes a trip to Augusta National. His also qualifies for the U.S. Open with his second PGA Tour victory, and he moves to No. 34 in the world.

Source: NBCSports