Scheffler survives Memorial scrap to claim fifth win of season

Ronan MacNamara

Scottie Scheffler (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Scottie Scheffler became the first player to win five times in a single season since 2017 when he scrapped it out with Collin Morikawa to win the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.

In very US Open like conditions Scheffler battled to a final round of 74 which was good enough to win by the minimum on eight-under-par while Morikawa claimed second place after a 71.

It’s a first win for Scheffler as a father and he becomes the second player to win both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial in the same season. Tiger Woods repeated the feat four times.

The world number one has now converted five successive 54-hole leads into a win and he now has a larger gap over Xander Schauffele (2nd) at the summit of the FedEx Cup rankings than there is between 2nd and 100th.

“Yeah, it’s very special. Yeah, Mr. Nicklaus did a lot of great things for the game of golf, but the affect he had on his community and our country as well is very special, and so I’ve looked up to him for a long time.

“He was always a family-first guy and I try to put my family first as much as possible just the way he did, and you can kind of see it. You know, I think he’s been married — I think he said 64 years now, and so Lord willing Meredith and I will make it that long.

“Yeah, it’s special to be here and it’s even more special to be the winner.”

Teeing off with a three-shot lead Scheffer looked in control through six holes with a bogey on the 4th and a birdie on the 6th maintaining his advantage over Adam Hadwin and he was five clear of Morikawa.

However, he gave the chasing pack a chance with a dropped shot on the 8th and a cold putter that saw him rank 42nd out of 52 players on the final day.

Morikawa, a 2020 winner here, launched his charge with birdies on the 7th, 9th and 12th to climb to within one. But he couldn’t draw level with Scheffler, passing up a guilt edged birdie opportunity on the par-5 15th before falling two behind with a clumsy bogey on 16 as Scottie rolled in from 15-feet for a turning point par.

The putter was hot for Scheffler, but only briefly as he dragged a par effort left on 17 to allow Morikawa to trim the gap back to one heading down the 18th.

Both players missed the final green long with Morikawa threatening the hole with his chip before Scheffler left himself five feet for the win.

Knowing if he missed that Morikawa would be ready to pounce, Scheffler poured his par putt in rendering Morikawa’s par attempt inconsequential and he heads to Pinehurst for the US Open the overwhelming favourite.

“Was it the hardest one this year? I don’t think so. It’s kind of hard to rate difficulty of wins.

“Maybe THE PLAYERS, I think, would maybe be the hardest, if I could think, just because I was coming off a win and I had — the neck was bugging me pretty bad that week.

“But as far as satisfaction at the end of the week, this one’s up there pretty significantly. You know, being at Mr. Nicklaus’s golf course and being at a tournament where I’ve had a few close calls in the past, it’s very satisfying to hole that putt on 18 and be walking off with a win and shaking Mr. Nicklaus’s hand and him not saying — you know, I think I talked about it a little bit earlier, but a couple years ago I missed a putt that maybe would have been for a playoff, and he told me I didn’t make the putt today, but one day I’ll make the putt on 18 and I’ll be walking off to shake his hand.

“So, you know, it was pretty special thinking about that as I was walking over to shake his hand today and, yeah, it was a fun week.”

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry were paired together in the final round and rather than galvanise each other like they did at the Zurich Classic, they dragged each other down.

McIlroy fell to a final round of 76 while Lowry tumbled down the leaderboard into 49th place with an 85 that included two double bogeys and a triple.

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