The American has returned to World No 1 after writing himself into history with a dominant display at TPC Sawgrass
Jack Nicklaus. Tiger Woods. Scottie Scheffler. The only three golfers to hold the Players Championship and the Masters titles at the same time.
When Scheffler chipped in for birdie on the 8th hole at TPC Sawgrass, the writing appeared on the wall as he rattled off four more on his way to a 69 and a five-shot win.
The 26-year-old is now a six-time winner on the PGA Tour and has surpassed the $30 million mark in career earnings a little more than a year on from his first title.
Scheffler returns to World No 1 having been dethroned by Jon Rahm at the Genesis Invitational and he looks in ominous form with a title defence at Augusta in sight.
Playing partner Min Woo Lee, who had started two back, had two sevens on the card as he slumped to a 4-over 76 and into a tie for 6th. Not that the Australian ever stopped enjoying his day.
Tyrrell Hatton finished with five straight birdies to play the back nine in 29 – a new Players record – and set the clubhouse lead at 12-under, but Scheffler remained unruffled, stayed patient, and pulled away from the pack.
Viktor Hovland had a 4-under 68 to finish tied-3rd with Tom Hoge, who was 6-over through 18 holes before scraping into the weekend and breaking the course record on Saturday.
The huge crowds on 17 were also treated to a third hole-in-one of the week, as Alex Smalley slam dunked the famous par-3.
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When asked how he will celebrate, Scheffler said: “What time is it? Daylights saving has thrown me all out…” He was told it was 7.17pm. “I’ll head to grandma’s house – she’ll have some food. She’ll definitely have dessert.”
Family means a lot to Scheffler. His wife, Meredith, as well as his grandmother, who “lives 20 minutes up the road”, had followed him for all 72 holes. “She’s 88 next week,” Scheffler added.
So how have the last 392 days – a period of time that has provided six PGA Tour victories, including a major, a WGC, and now a Players – been for him?
“Fun,” he replied.
Although Scheffler remained in control throughout the final round, the Players Championship leaderboard proved volatile late in the day as many competitors fell victim to the difficulty of hole 17.
Before Scheffler arrived at the famous par 3, the last 18 players had played the hole in 16-over-par, a sequence that saw six balls find the water.
He found the heart of the green having just seen Tommy Fleetwood fall short, but Scheffler learned how leads can quickly slip away at last year’s Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy rallied from six shots behind to topple him at East Lake, but victories like this at Ponte Vedra Beach are made all the sweeter for him and Meredith having suffered this previous heartache.
“It’s a really hard sport. And I had put myself in a position all year to where I had a chance to win the FedEx Cup, and I wasn’t able to get it done,” he added. “And by the time I got home, I was worn out.
“I was mentally, physically drained, emotionally drained. Meredith and I both were. So we were pretty sad after that, but the hard times make the good times that much sweeter.”
Scheffler, who picks up a winners’ cheque of $4.5 million, will now defend two titles, starting in Austin at the WGC-Match Play before he heads down Magnolia Lane.
- See the full leaderboard on the PGA Tour website.