Six big Masters talking points – part two: Can Scottie be stopped?

Peter Finnan

Scottie Scheffler in the second round of The 2022 Masters at Augusta National (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Peter Finnan

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Before the PGA Championship moved to May, the wait between ‘Glory’s Last Shot’ and the ‘Tradition unlike any other’ seemed protracted, but with the additional month between the Open Championship and the Masters, it now seems interminable.

If a week is a long time in politics, nine months is a lifetime in golf, but after the sport has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, it’s time to focus on what really matters. That golfing temple in Augusta, Georgia, the history, the drama, the best players in the world coming together and locking horns in the quest for that iconic green jacket, and with it, sporting immortality. As the week-to-week offerings of professional golf continue to underwhelm, certain events transcend to whole new levels. This is it. This is sport. This is the hallowed turf. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. This is the Masters. Amen to that!

Six big Masters talking points

Every year, the Masters throws up more talking points than we’ve pages in this issue to cover. But we’ve narrowed it down to the six biggest as the storied Georgian venue will once again be the green battleground on which dreams are made, on which heroes are crowned, and on which hearts are broken.

Q2 – Can Scottie be stopped? 

Last year, Scottie Scheffler arrived as the defending champion, the reigning PLAYERS champion, the world number one, and the overwhelming favourite. This year, the only thing that’s changed is that it’s Jon Rahm who is setting the menu for the Champions Dinner, but Scheffler remains the man with the biggest target on his back.

His 2023 ball-striking numbers are only comparable to a prime Tiger Woods, and by overcoming a neck injury to win at Sawgrass in Tiger-esque fashion, those comparisons have only grown.

Woods’ name was the first that opponents would look for on a major championship leaderboard and his very presence was enough to have them quaking in their boots. This year, it’ll be ‘Scheffler’ they’ll be scanning for, with fingers crossed that he’s nowhere near the top.

But the putting woes that blighted 2023 and early 2024 first surfaced at Augusta National, and though his final round at Bay Hill and four days at TPC Sawgrass were a marked improvement, nowhere is flatstick performance more intensely under the microscope than at the Masters.

Imperious off the tee, laser-like with his irons and with a short game to rival just about anybody, whether he holes the putts needed to claim a second Green Jacket is the one remaining doubt. Is there enough scar tissue remaining to stop him cementing his place as Tiger’s natural successor?

Without a ball being struck, it’s his to lose. And that says it all, really!

The above feature appeared in the 2024-3 edition or Irish Golfer. To view the full edition click below

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