Scottie Scheffler runs away with Masters for first major title

[AUGUSTA] Already ranked No 1 in the world, Scottie Scheffler reached another summit in the sport of golf.

His continued dominance Sunday ensured the final result was never in much doubt.

Scheffler shot 1-under-par 71 to secure his first major title, cruising to a three-shot victory at the Masters on Sunday (Apr 10) at Augusta National Golf Club.

Scheffler finished at 10-under 278 for the tournament despite a four-putt double bogey on his last hole.

"I didn't have to worry about what anybody else was doing out there," Scheffler said. "If I took care of stuff and played good, solid golf, I felt like I would get the job done."

The 25-year-old, entered in his third Masters, was playing his first tournament since rising to the No 1 ranking. He has been overwhelmingly successful in 2022, winning 3 PGA Tour events during February and March before conquering the field in the most famous tournament of them all.

"I can't put into words what it means that I'll be able to come back here for a lifetime," Scheffler said.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was the runner-up after posting the best round of the week, a bogey-free 64.

Australia's Cameron Smith (73) and Ireland's Shane Lowry (69) shared third at 5 under. Collin Morikawa (67) placed fifth at 4 under. Will Zalatoris, who was the 2021 runner-up in his Masters debut, shot 67 to move to 3 under and tie with Canada's Corey Conners (70) for sixth place.

Scheffler's biggest competition came from Smith, who trimmed a three-shot deficit to a stroke before fading. Smith posted birdies on the first 2 holes, but Scheffler birdied the third hole with a chip-in from in front of the green and built his lead back to 4 strokes.

Smith found the water off the tee at the par-3 12th on what he called "just a really poor swing" and made a triple bogey before adding a bogey at No 14.

"I feel like I've played some of my best golf around here," Smith said. "It's quite frustrating, I guess, to not walk away with a win yet, but at the same token, I look forward to the challenge of coming back here next year and trying to do it again." Scheffler, after 3 consecutive pars on the second nine, notched birdies at the 14th and 15th to climb 5 shots up on McIlroy with 3 holes to play.

Scheffler was born in New Jersey but grew up in Texas. He played college golf at the University of Texas.

"He is playing the best golf in the world, and this is very reminiscent of Jordan (Spieth) in 2015," said Zalatoris, who has competed with Scheffler since the youth circuit in Texas. "Any time he tees it up, he has a chance to win. There's no weaknesses in his game."

McIlroy, a 4-time major champion, has never won at the Masters. Yet he matched the best final round in the tournament's history thanks in part to a 10-foot eagle putt at the par-5 13th and a birdie at No 18 on a shot from a greenside bunker.

"You dream about getting yourself in position," McIlroy said. "I wasn't quite close enough to the lead. I gave it a great go, and I can't ask any more of myself."

Five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods shot 78 for the second day in a row. He finished in 47th place at 13 over in his return to competitive golf after a single-car accident left him with severe injuries in February 2021.

"I don't think words can really describe that, given where I was a little over a year ago and what my prospects were at that time, to end up here and be able to play in all 4 rounds," Woods said. "Even a month ago I didn't know if I could pull this off."

Woods said he'll play in the Open Championship this summer at St Andrews, but made no commitments regarding other tournaments prior to then.

"I don't quite have the endurance that I would like to have had," he said. REUTERS

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