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Masters Winners=Scheffler+Augusta National

by | Apr 17, 2024

After months of a fairly boring 2024 professional golf tour, the golfing world finally turned to Augusta National for the annual Rite of Spring.  For the next five days, we could tune out the LIV/PGA shuffle and the whole child-like sordid affair that is diminishing professional golf.  Augusta National was ready to host the event as 2023 champion, Jon Rahm, hosted the annual champions dinner, which featured a few snide, albeit,  unimportant remarks from certain attendees regarding the LIV/PGA squabble.  No matter, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Terrell Hatton, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Bubba Watson and some other LIV players would rejoin their former weekly competitors to take on the first major tournament.  Augusta National really showed itself off this week as the weather generated course conditions that did not allow the players to play offense.  Scottie Scheffler was the favorite going into Augusta National as he’s been playing lights out with 3 victories in his last 4 events and the one he didn’t win in Houston, he missed a 8 foot putt on 18 to force a playoff.  Pundits can’t get over how accurately Scheffler is hitting the golf ball in the middle of the club face.  It is incredibly impressive as his swing is grooved with the significant weight shift he makes through every shot.  Scheffler won this tournament, conquered the elements and never lost his focus as the competition could not put enough pressure on him.  Scheffler, for me, is the current version of Ben Hogan–a Texan who has confidence and stability in his golf swing with little to regard to what competition is doing.  He puts the best swing on the ball and lately, his short game is incredibly impressive.  During the first round on the seventh hole, Scheffler pulled his drive left into the trees.  With no opportunity to not only go for the green, but not even hit a shot in the air, he hammered an iron a few inches above the ground and rolled the shot into the front bunker and proceeded to hit a wonderful bunker shot for an unlikely par.  There would be multiple occurrences from Scheffler throughout the tournament.  Scheffler won this tournament hands down by staying focused and not worrying about the pursuit of the competition.  The competition was there and the field was tightly bunched but each one of them would have at least one catastrophic event during these 72 holes, which made it impossible to catch Scheffler.  The golfing pundits have been critical of Scheffler’s putting process, but he shrugs it off and made the putts that mattered and provided a significant cushion for him as he came in to claim another green jacket on the closing holes on Sunday.

One of many great short game shots

Augusta National had received some rain but the wind came out on day 1, which started to dry out the greens as some of the earlier starting players had some advantage in the morning.  DeChambeau took full advantage with his length shooting an impressive 65 to take the clubhouse lead.  On this day, DeChambeau played flawlessly and took full advantage of his tee time without making any mistakes.  Other stories were developing as Max Homa had his best Masters round ever with a  67.  Tiger proved to be fit and ready and able to walk well enroute to a 1 over 73.  Scheffler was a shot back with an opening round 66.  In the second round, the wind began to blow to the point that a professional could not control where shots were going to end up, putting the players completely on defense.  Woods used his considerable experience at Augusta to get through at even par and qualify to make his 24th cut in a row at the Masters.  The carnage was  evident as outstanding players Victor Hovland, Wyndham Clark, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson all missed the cut.  DeChambeau couldn’t seem to contain the emotional highs and lows of his game.  In Round 3, he made a strategic mistake of trying to make it over the pond on the 15th from 234 yards and managed to make it and then flub his chip shot in the pond anyway eventually making double bogey.  He snapped his tee shot on 18 into the scrub pine straw and had no chance to go at the green so he chipped out to the 100 yard mark.  He was clearly crestfallen and probably felt the tournament was slipping away.  The gods of golf then decided that Bryson wouldn’t be out of the tournament  just yet–he holed the next shot for an unlikely birdie on 18 and desperation turned into jubilation.  Homa just persevered as he drove the ball extremely well throughout but he simply couldn’t hole enough putts and went 33 holes between birdies.  Homa’s “waterloo” came on the infamous “killer” 12th hole, which continues to slay Masters contenders year by year.  Homa’s tee shot was aimed at the stick and he probably had too much adrenalin as the shot flew over the flagstick over the green into an azalea bush, where a double bogey essentially ended his chances to challenge Scheffler.  Golden Bell (12th hole) continues to extract pain from the field in many different ways.  Usually, players can’t figure out the wind, which continuously swirls at this Amen Corner spot and players usually dump a shot that is under clubbed into the pond.  This year the players got into trouble by flying the green and ending up trying to pitch delicately downhill to the hole or have to extract their shot out of the bushes.  Even Tiger who knows better from his experience also flew the green as well.  Scheffler would have none of this.  He placed his tee shots to the right of the Sunday pin placement and waved goodbye to this little monster with pars on the last three days and a birdie on the first day.  Scheffler didn’t back down on Sunday, and continued his measured aggressive play with accurate shots on 13, 14 and 16 to emerge with a four shot victory.  On the 18th hole, his approach shot was about 25 shots short and could have easily made bogey to win but he nailed an outstanding chip shot to seal the deal with impressive par.

The Masters fulfilled its promise as an another outstanding event and is the highlight of the professional golfing year thus far.  Scheffler has established himself as the player that everyone will be chasing for the remainder of this season and probably for a very long time.


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