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AUGUSTA, Ga. — The father had not seemed worried. A father who is worried about his son does not have the stomach for an ice cream sandwich, and the father must have been at ease because he decided to down a second. And why not? After a week of unseasonable cold and unwelcome wind it was 70 degrees, sunny and calm, and his namesake was warming up 20 feet ahead of him. Through three days that son’s only struggle was his sweater vest, fighting with a sleeveless pullover on Saturday like it was a strait jacket, and that son was 18 holes away from immortality. You’re damn right the father was going to have another ice cream sandwich. If you can’t enjoy this, what’s the point?
But that was an hour before and this was now. Augusta National had just reminded the son, Scottie Scheffler, who had looked more machine than man through 54 holes at the Masters, that no one goes the full 72 without their pride bruised and psyche tested. Scheffler’s three-shot lead was down to one after two holes and promised to disappear at the third, a duck-hook drive and chunked chip leaving him in a bad position at an inauspicious time. Only then Scheffler decided he had his fill of humility and haymakers and resolved to strike back. He sent his ball skidding into the hillside, the ball pulling out a map mid-air to check directions, landing on the green to run and run and run some more and stopping only when it fell to the bottom of the cup. When the ball went down the patrons arms went up, the son shook his fist and the father let out a sigh. Scottie was back on the path in his march to history, a destination he ultimately reached by becoming the 2022 Masters champ.
“It feels pretty good. I don’t know what to say to be honest with you guys,” Scheffler said after authoring a final-round 71 for a 278 score and three-shot win. “I’m just really thankful to be in this position.”
What Scheffler lacks in self analysis he compensates for in his game. On a tour not short on talent the former Longhorn All-American is among its most skillful, possessing the might and precision and touch that allows for few if any holes in his arsenal. He casts an imposing shadow, his 6-foot-3 height, wide frame and no-nonsense glare making him look like the guy who comes knocking on your door when rent is three months late.
However, his physicality and frame belies an undercurrent of cool. It is there, forever and always, and saved him Saturday when anything less would have released his grip on this Masters. Scheffler was leading by four when he tugged his 18th tee shot into underbrush, promising to shrink that lead to two and possibly one. Instead Scheffler keenly used the rules to his advantage (albeit with penalty) and walked away with one of those oxymorons usually reserved for the U.S. Open: a good bogey.
“Even when he makes mistakes, he’s stone-cold,” one reporter whispered to another Saturday night as Scheffler made his way off the course. “I don’t think he’s human.”
Still, that bogey kept the final round a competition rather than coronation, and any thoughts otherwise were erased immediately Sunday afternoon. Scheffler’s drive at the first started left and stayed left. His punch shot sprinted through the green. He made a nifty pitch and saved par but Cameron Smith—the Players champ and ostensibly Scheffler’s only opponent at three shots back—rolled in a 10-footer for birdie. Scheffler’s advantage was down to two, then down to one after he made 5 to Smith’s 4 on the second. Then Scheffler’s drive at the third was so bad it was good, receiving relief from the towering leader board that blocked his line to the green. He chunked the approach and in that second it sure felt like the wheels were coming off.