Scottie stands head and shoulders above them all at Augusta

Mark McGowan

Scottie Scheffler, the 2024 Masters champion (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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At times he looked human. For a couple of holes on Saturday, he even looked to be on the precipice of collapse, but he responded in the only way he knows how and Scottie Scheffler took a one shot lead into the final round of the Masters.

And for seven holes, he looked decidedly ordinary. Ordinary as in ‘one of the best golfers on the planet but not quite head and shoulders above the rest’ ordinary, but then that changed. When the pressure began to crank up, the most clearcut pre-Masters favourite since a prime Tiger Woods proved exactly why he was the most clearcut pre-Masters favourite since a prime Tiger Woods.

As opening stanzas of a poem go, Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ takes some beating. “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs….” Kipling begins, before going on to lay out some of the finest life lessons ever written, all delivered with a beauty and rhyme that only serves to enhance the message.

All around him, one by one, players began losing their heads. All bar Scottie.

When Collin Morikawa, paired with Scheffler in the final group, stiffed his third shot on the eighth, setting up a certain birdie which Scheffler would have to respond to to remain in a tie for the lead, it was a potential tipping point. Scheffler hadn’t been in vintage form up to that. He’d bogeyed the fourth and the seventh holes, only making birdie on three, and the door was open and Morikawa was peeking through.

As were Ludvig Aberg and Max Homa, but the business end of the tournament was about to start and one man was going to be all business. He’d roll in a 10-footer on eight, leave himself a two-inch tap in on nine, stiff another approach on 10, and just like that, he’d taken complete control and delivered a clearcut message to each of his imminent challengers.

And that message was simple…. “This tournament is mine and if you’re going to win it, you’re going to have to wrestle it out of my cold, dead hands.”

And one by one they crumbled. Morikawa at nine, and then again at 11. Aberg at 11, Homa at 12, all the while with Scheffler keeping the screw turned. His lone mistake on the second nine came at 11, but he missed in a spot where he knew ‘5’ was the worst he’d be putting on his card. Both Morikawa and Aberg made ‘6’.

Middle of the green on 12, and two putts, on the green in two on 13 and two putts, tap in birdie on 14, piped drive down the middle on 15, he never gave them a sniff of getting back into it.

By this stage, it was painstakingly clear that only divine intervention – or a phone call saying his wife had been rushed into labour – was going to stop Scheffler from becoming a two-time Masters champion and neither God nor a premature birth intervened.

A birdie on 16 was the crowning glory, taking him to -11 and affording him a four-stroke lead as he entered the final two holes. A birdie putt slid by on 17, and then on 18, Scheffler’s short game, perhaps the most underrated of the many weapons in his arsenal, was brought out one final time, leaving himself a tap-in par putt that would ensure there would be no repeat of the final-green four-putt from 2022.

But even if he had four-putted, he’d still have won.

Aberg was making his major championship debut and, if this week is anything to go by, he’ll have many more chances to add a major title to his already impressive C.V., but he’s going to have to contend with Scottie Scheffler at the majority of them.

He’s putting up the most impressive statistics of anybody not named Tiger Woods, he’s knocing out victories at a rate greater than anybody not named Tiger Woods, and he’s building an aura incomparable to anybody not named Tiger Woods.

He’s the best golfer on the planet by a country mile, and there’s a distinct possibility that he’s only going to get better.

There was one question everybody was asking when the week started and it’s a question that’s going to be repeated ad nauseum for the foreseeable future.

“Who is going to stop Scottie Scheffler?”

Right now, the answer is nobody.

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