Scottie Scheffler wins his second Masters, but knows priorities are about to change

AUGUSTA, Ga. — They say that the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday, but they were wrong today.

This Masters started and then quickly ended one hole earlier, on the ninth green, where five minutes of late-afternoon drama changed everything for the now two-time Masters champion, Scottie Scheffler.

Scheffler came to the ninth tee tied for the lead with his playing partner, fellow 27-year-old American Collin Morikawa. But when he walked off the green on his way to the 10th tee, he was the fortunate owner of a three-shot lead.

His dominance only built from there, as the 2022 Masters champion coasted to the 2024 Masters title with four more birdies on the back nine to run his winning score to 11-under par, four strokes ahead of runner-up Ludvig Åberg of Sweden.

Scheffler’s march to victory was decidedly different than the last time he did this two years ago, when his emotions exploded on the 18th green in an embarrassing four-putt, even though he still managed to defeat Rory McIlroy by three strokes.

This time, he was all business.

“I tried not to let my emotions get the best of me this time,” Scheffler said. “I kept my head down. I don't think I even took my hat off and waved to the crowd walking up 18. I did my best to stay in the moment, and I wanted to finish off the tournament in the right way. And I got to soak it in there after 1-putting instead of 4-putting, which was a little bit better.”

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Scottie Scheffler waves to the patrons on the 18th green after winning the Masters.
Scottie Scheffler waves to the patrons on the 18th green after winning the Masters.

Scheffler is a cool customer, as steady and determined (and talented) a player as there is in the game of golf at the moment. But under that calm exterior, a fierce competitor lurks.

“I love winning,” he said. “I hate losing. I really do. And when you're here in the biggest moments, when I'm sitting there with the lead on Sunday, I really, really want to win badly.”

Nowhere was that more evident than when he stood down the hill from the ninth green, little more than 100 yards from the pin, with a lob wedge in his hands. His approach hit behind the flagstick and then spun backwards toward the hole, rolling and rolling as hundreds of spectators rose to their feet in giddy anticipation, believing something spectacular was about to happen.

It turns out the ball did not fall off the face of the earth into the hole, but it certainly came close, stopping just a couple of inches away. The tap-in birdie took Scheffler to 8-under par for the tournament and gave him a momentary one-stroke lead over Morikawa.

But that was about to change. After Scheffler’s heroics, Morikawa peered out from the bottom of the glistening bunker at the front left of the green, standing over his ball. He needed to get it close to stay within one stroke of Scheffler but instead, disaster struck: the ball failed to clear the edge of the bunker and rolled back into the sand. Morikawa took another swing at it and sent the ball onto the green, but then missed his putt to settle for a double bogey 6.

This all transpired on the ninth green in five minutes, from 4:40 to 4:45 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. No one knew it yet, but with the wind in his sails, the Masters was ostensibly over as Scheffler was never seriously challenged by anyone again.

“I feel like playing professional golf is an endlessly not satisfying career,” he said after it all was over. “For instance, in my head, all I can think about right now is getting home. I'm not thinking about the tournament. I'm not thinking about the green jacket.

“I wish I could soak this in a little bit more. Maybe I will tonight when I get home. But at the end of the day, I think that's what the human heart does. You always want more, and I think you have to fight those things and focus on what's good.”

Most immediately, that’s the birth of his first child, a topic of much discussion here this week when he said he would leave the course at any moment if his wife Meredith went into labor. His life — their life — is about to change forever, he knows.

“I will go home, soak in this victory tonight,” he said. “I will definitely enjoy the birth of my first child. But with that being said, I still love competing. My priorities will change here very soon. My son or daughter will now be the main priority, along with my wife, so golf will now be probably fourth in line.

“But I still love competing. I don't plan on taking my eye off the ball anytime soon, that's for sure.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Masters 2024 champion Scottie Scheffler talks about wife, baby's birth