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Surging Scheffler fends off field to win Masters
Scottie Scheffler holds the Masters Trophy following his three-stroke victory at the 2022 Masters Tournament. (Photo courtesy of David J. Phillip/AP)

It’s no secret that Augusta National is the course that giveth and taketh away — a timeless place that rewards those who respect its magnitude and punishes those who fly too close to the sun.

For 2022 Masters Tournament Champion and PGA Tour man of the moment Scottie Scheffler, he found the rewards to be plentiful, playing with an unflappable maturity beyond his years and confidence that would imply he had been at the Masters for decades.

But as recently as early February, Scheffler had never won a PGA Tour event and only made his first appearance at the Masters two years ago.

After a solid 2021 season with multiple top-10 finishes in major championships, Scheffler won three events early in the 2022 season, leading him to a No. 1 world ranking heading into the Masters.

The meteoric rise of the 25-year old Texan culminated this past Sunday at Augusta with a three-stroke victory and a final score of 10-under par 278. 

Scheffler’s journey to the green jacket began with a solid first round score of 3-under par, just two strokes off the lead.

It was on the back nine during the second round that Scheffler placed a firm hold on the tournament for the first time.

Leading by one stroke at 4-under, he made four birdies on the back nine and finished his second round with a five-stroke lead.

As is so often the case, Saturday at Augusta was the toughest grind for the player in front. 

Fighting cold conditions and swirling winds, Scheffler played well on the front nine before facing a host of bogeys on the back. 

While he would end the third round at 9-under, the fearless Australian Cameron Smith had the best round of the day to finish at 6-under and inch closer to Scheffler.

The final round at the Masters showed no shortage of drama, and it started early. 

Coming into the third hole, Smith had cut the deficit to one stroke after holing consecutive birdies. Both he and Scheffler would hit errant tee shots on the third hole and come up short of the green on their second shots.

With both players needing to chip onto the green, Scheffler took a low, bouncing shot that made a beeline toward the cup and went in. Smith chipped well past the hole and missed the ensuing par putt to revert his deficit to three strokes.

After another bogey by Smith, followed up by a birdie by both players, Scheffler entered the back nine with a four-stroke lead at 11-under.

Both players bogeyed the tenth and Smith hit a medium-range birdie putt on the eleventh to bring him back within three strokes of the lead.

But that would prove to be as close as it got for Smith, who fell victim to the infamous water hazard on the par-3 twelfth hole that so many players in the past have fallen victim to. 

With a triple bogey on that hole, Smith’s chances to catch Scheffler vanished.

Meanwhile, a herculean effort had been made by Rory McIlroy to place himself in front of Smith. The four time-major champion would finish with the final round’s top score of 8-under 64, closing the tournament at 7-under.

To place any doubt to rest, Scheffler birdied the fourteenth and fifteenth holes before making his way to the final tee.

In accordance with his performance all week, his face did not change despite the knowledge of his own score. His focused demeanor carried him to the green, where he initially missed a couple of nervy putts before closing the door on his first major championship.

Only after that final ball rolled in did he break from character and let out all of the emotions and relief that come with conquering Augusta National.

Embracing his caddie, wife and family, Scheffler celebrated in a way that suited him best — with humility and a subtle confidence that his career at the top of the golf world was only just beginning.

The top five finishers were as follows: Scheffler (-10), McIlroy (-7), Lowry (-5), Smith (-5), Morikawa (-4).