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Masters 2022 — ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this’ but Scottie Scheffler has a green jacket to show he was


AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fifteen minutes after Scottie Scheffler won the Masters, a golf cart rushed him to the back door of Butler Cabin. The only sounds came from a drone circling overhead and a few birds. His green jacket waited inside. He looked dazed. Of course he did. In the past 57 days, he won four tournaments, including a major, and changed everything about his life. He can’t ever go back to the way things used to be.

He’s 25 years old. This season he’s made $10 million. Inside the cabin he slipped that jacket on for the first time — taking it off so he could repeat the ceremony in front of a crowd waiting for him around the 18th green — and after finishing an interview, he came back outside. He still looked a little dazed and enjoyed a few long seconds of silence until he came back into view of the patrons, who started cheering and clapping.

“I don’t really know what to say …,” he said.

He broke down and cried this morning — “like a baby,” in his words –feeling just overwhelmed with the moment: One round of golf to win the Masters, and the tornado which can take over a life after something like that. He’s seen it hit people he knows, like Jordan Spieth. He turned to his wife in tears.

“I don’t think I’m ready for this,” he told her.

She made him a big breakfast and tried to calm him down. She said she loved him whether he won or lost by 10. They talked about their shared faith. He got to the course and began to prepare.

“Gosh, it was a long morning,” he said. “It was long. My stomach has been hurting for two days straight.”

Back in Texas, at the Royal Oaks Country Club, the members and staff prepared, too.

“It’s the calm before the storm,” head pro Dean Larsson told me Sunday morning.

Scheffler started playing there as a kid, after his parents took out a loan to join, all with the goal of following club members like Justin Leonard onto the PGA Tour.

“What’s really special,” Royal Oaks club president Todd Moen said, “[is] because Scottie grew up here, everybody has gotten to know him.”

His dream was to be a professional.

“I wore pants when I was a kid at Royal Oaks,” he said, “because I wanted to play golf on the PGA Tour.”

As a boy he wore those polo shirts and khakis to school, dressing like a touring pro. His classmates laughed.

“Rightfully so,” he said Sunday night, laughing, too.

As a schoolboy golf legend in his home state, he played in college at Texas. On Saturday afternoon, Longhorns golf coach John Fields answered his phone in an airport, taking his current team out to California for an event. He chose the tournament because it was designed by Alister MacKenzie, who also designed a little track called Augusta National. Fields wanted to prepare his guys for the biggest stages. Scheffler won that same tournament when he was a student. Fields watched the Masters on his phone as he waited at his gate. He’s almost part of the Scheffler family at this point. Five years ago, Scheffler played in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. He walked down the fairway next to Brooks Koepka, with his coach and father trailing behind. Scheffler’s dad turned to Fields.

“Do you think he’s gonna be out here one day?” he asked.

It’s funny now, but Scheffler’s dad really didn’t know. Fields did. He’d seen the real thing before — he coached Spieth, for instance — and he explained to his friend that the young man ahead of them was not only going to make the tour but build a career on it.

That prophecy has come true in the past 57 days.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Scheffler won his first tour event at the WM Phoenix Open. Back at the club, Moen bought a round of drinks for the 19th-hole crowd and raised a glass to Scheffler and to the club. Everyone roared. These were his people. Then Scheffler kept winning, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He rocketed up the world golf rankings to No. 1. At Royal Oaks between victories, he still worked with the kids on the range, coming up with chipping and putting games, often going as long as an hour. Before leaving home to come to Georgia, he played a round with three members. Then he packed for the Masters. He couldn’t believe it. When his first invitation came in the mail, he teared up. These past 57 days, he’s been a young man living in a dreamscape.

“I don’t think anything has sunk in at the moment,” he said. “My head is still kind of spinning.”

He arrived in Augusta beneath the radar a bit, even with all his success. All eyes were on Tiger Woods, who was returning to competitive golf only 14 months after a car wreck nearly cost him his leg. Scheffler wasn’t even a year old when Woods won for the first time here.

“His YouTube clips are such an inspiration for me,” Scheffler said. “I remember watching the highlights of him winning in ’97, kind of running away with it, and he never really broke his concentration.”

Now Scheffler wears Tiger brand golf shoes and shirts, and uses his irons, although he’s probably got his own line of all three coming soon. He outplayed the legend on Thursday. On Friday, as Tiger’s surgically repaired knee began to fail him, Scheffler took the lead. He kept it Saturday and after his long night and fraught, tearful morning, he went out Sunday afternoon to defend it.

His toughest competition came from Rory McIlroy, who tied a final-round Masters record with a scorching 64. He birdied 18 and his roar echoed across the course. Rory had the biggest roars of the afternoon. Truth be told, the atmosphere on Sunday was muted. As Scheffler made his way home through the back nine, there were open spaces on the ropes which are often five and six deep for these coronation marches. More than a few people hoped for some sort of collapse to give McIlroy a shot at the career grand slam.

Scheffler didn’t fold.

Back at Royal Oaks, the 19th hole turned standing room only. When Scheffler chipped in on No. 3, the biggest shot of his life, the clubhouse erupted. A man ran around the room giving out high fives. Hole by hole, the room leaned in during the tense moments, feet digging into the red and yellow carpets. Guys drank from white Styrofoam cups.

When he birdied 14 and sealed the victory, grown men hugged and rubbed each other’s heads like school kids. They knew Scheffler as a child, and now he was going to win the same tournament as Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. A chant broke out in the room, calling for shots.

“Fireball! Fireball! Fireball!”



The Masters came upon us quickly in 2021, with the previous installment having just ended only five months earlier and without another major championship between them. Dustin Johnson’s time with the green jacket was short, and Hideki Matsuyama lifted up a nation in winning this one.

Here are things we learned over the course of another week at Augusta National.

1. Firmer, faster is better

For the first time in several years, Augusta National offered up the kind of conditions that are favored for major championships. The fairways were running fast, the greens were firm and quick. Both gave the players fits.

While it is fair to say that the greens might have bordered on the edge during the opening round on Thursday, the resulting difficulty led to a far more compelling tournament. Players were on edge, and that’s part of the examination in a major.

Just when it appeared Matsuyama had the tournament firmly in his grasp, he blasted his approach over the green and into the water at the par-5 15th. That would not have happened at the very soft Masters in November. He also made bogey at the 16th, three-putting the green from long distance.

Each day offered an opportunity for someone to shoot a low score. Justin Rose had 65 on Thursday. Matsuyama matched that on Saturday. On Sunday, Jon Rahm, too far back to contend, posted 66. Such conditions require an abundance of precision in order to prevail.

2. More roars, more needed

It was nice to have spectators back at Augusta National after only a smattering of members and guests were allowed in November. At times, there were large pockets of masked gatherings throughout the property. You could hear the cheering at Amen Corner from the clubhouse. Just not enough of it. And not loud enough.

Part of the Masters’ allure is the packed grandstands — there were no structures again, just like in November — as well as rows deep of patrons trying to get a glimpse of the action. The pandemic circumstances necessitated the limited attendance. The hope is it’ll be back to normal in 2022.

3. As the game grows around the world

The Masters and Augusta National are understandably proud of their efforts to grow the game around the world with two amateur events, including the Asia-Pacific Amateur, which began in 2009. Matsuyama won the tournament twice as an amateur, thereby earning a spot in the Masters, which he played for the first time 10 years ago. On Sunday, he became the seventh player to win low-amateur honors at the tournament and go on to win the green jacket. The Masters folks will use his win as a way to help encourage players in Asia and in Latin America — where the Latin America Amateur Championship is played — to take up the game and dream of Matsuyama’s exploits.

4. DeChambeau’s mental work

When Bryson DeChambeau said last fall that he thought Augusta National would play to a par of 67 for him, he clearly did not expect to be finishing in a tie for 46th. He had tied for 34th in the fall. DeChambeau seemed to get on track with a second-round 67, but he opened with 76 and then added 75 and 75 on Saturday and Sunday. His length might be an asset, but he needs a lot more to get competitive here.

“I don’t think you can ever figure this place out,” he said. “There’s so many things going on around here. The wind makes it diabolical. It’s flying around through these trees and bouncing off the trees and making it feel into the wind when it should be downwind, and vice versa. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to figure it out, but I’ve just got to be more comfortable.”

5. Spieth is back

We already knew this. But a strong performance that he even said was far from his best was another indication of the progress Jordan Spieth has made this year. A week after winning the Valero Texas Open, Spieth tied for third at the Masters despite never really being able to keep much momentum going and having a triple bogey on Thursday.

“I wish that I had the control of my swing that I hope is coming or I think is coming soon because it would have made things a little easier this week, and I did strike the ball really well,” said Spieth, who led the field in greens in regulation with 56 out of 72. “I hit a lot of fairways. I put myself in position to hit a lot of greens, and distance control is a strength of mine with iron play. I did a good job of that.

“So all in all, I’ve made a lot of good progress, but I feel like that road ahead is still significant for me. So I’ve got at least a couple weeks off right now where I’ll rest for a while and then regroup and see if I can get — off weeks are where you can make maybe 5% differences.”

6. Schauffele has more lessons to learn

Xander Schauffele said as much after tying for second at the 2019 Masters, a stroke behind Tiger Woods. Undoubtedly it was the same Sunday as he somehow hit it in the water at the 16th hole after making things interesting with four consecutive birdies.

“It’s another lesson to put in the memory bank,” he said. “[In] 2019, I had a rookie hiccup moment of, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m leading the Masters.’ This year I was chasing. I’m playing better than I was in 2019, and I made a mistake on shot selection and wind.”

The triple-bogey 6 was the first triple Schauffele has ever made in any major championship round.

7. Koepka needs more time to heal

You have to give Brooks Koepka credit for making an effort to play the Masters just three weeks after knee surgery. But it never seemed like a good idea. The way he walked around one of the most undulating courses showed the strain he put on his right knee. Koepka missed the cut, and will now likely be off for several weeks to make sure the knee gets better. He probably would have been better off skipping this event, something that is easy to see now.

8. A Rory reset is needed

The thought here had been that Rory McIlroy was not that far off. That bringing in Pete Cowen to help him before the Masters might be a quick fix to help straighten out his game, and that the lower expectations might mean an easy path to contention at the only major he has failed to win. Nope.

McIlroy struggled again and has now missed the cut at the Players Championship and the Masters. It was a disappointing showing for one of the game’s most popular players. It will be interesting to see if he can find his form in time for the PGA Championship next month at Kiawah, where he won the tournament in 2012.

9. Zalatoris doesn’t have status

Consider this: Despite tying for sixth at the U.S. Open and finishing second at the Masters, Will Zalatoris is not a member of the PGA Tour. He is a special temporary member due to his success over the past six months and is assured of earning his PGA Tour card for the 2021-22 season. But as it stands, he is not eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs. You need to be a full member of the PGA Tour for that. Right now, the only way to accomplish that is by winning a tournament. Given his recent form, that appears inevitable.

10. The Masters always delivers

Well, we didn’t really learn that. It has seemingly always been the case. But Zalatoris summed it up nicely and referenced Tiger Woods in the process.

“Everybody watches. Everybody remembers,” he said. “I was laughing with my parents [Saturday] night talking about how I could give you a memory of every single hole. I mentioned that I’ve seen guys for years when the pin is back left on 10, guys missing that putt low. Examples like that.

“But I think has a lot to do with Tiger, a lot of kids getting into the game and a lot of kids watching his success here — especially he won in ’97 and he won in 2019. He’s our trendsetter for the game. I think that’s part of the reason why so many kids come out early, is we saw him be fearless at a young age. So we come out and play fearless. And then on top of that, we were interested in watching the tournament year in, year out.

“And I think that’s something the Masters does so incredibly well is you can watch every single shot of every single player. Even [Sunday] morning I’m sitting around watching guys play the golf course to see how holes are playing. But I think a lot of that has to do with Tiger.”


Bob Harig ESPN Senior Writer