World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler rises out of Tiger Woods’ shadow to lead the Masters by five
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Scottie Scheffler played two groups behind Tiger Woods on Friday but finished a mile ahead. As the golf world obsessed over Woods’ every move this week, Scheffler welcomed that long shadow. The hottest player in golf – a gamer in every sense of the word – quietly rocketed to the top of the board on a gusty day at the Masters after a 5-under 67 put Scheffler five strokes clear of the field at 8 under 136.
Five players have led by five strokes after 36 holes at the Masters and all but one, Harry Cooper in 1936, went on to win: Jordan Spieth (2015), Raymond Floyd (1976), Jack Nicklaus (1975), and Herman Keiser (1946).
Four players hold a share of second at 3 under including 2021 champion Hideki Matsuyama, 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry, and Sungjae Im.
Scottie Scheffler hits to the No. 13 green during the second round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-Augusta Chronicle/USA TODAY Sports
Scheffler, 25, ascended to No. 1 in the world last month after his victory at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, winning three of his last five starts on the PGA Tour. Only Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth managed to get to the top in fewer starts as a pro.
“I would say Tiger takes a lot of attention away from all of us,” said Scheffler, “which I think is a good thing for us. He’s used to being in the spotlight. Tiger is the needle for professional golf.”
While the needle battled on a bum leg to 74 on Friday, Scheffler played the par 5s in 4 under to take command.
Earlier in the week, Scheffler was handing out beatdowns in board games, too. Sequence has been the game of choice, and Sam Burns, who handed Scheffler a few early losses during practice round matches this week, says the recent whirlwind of success hasn’t changed his good friend.
“I mean, he’s just his goofy self,” said Burns. “Off the golf course, he’s a fun guy to hang out with. He just relaxes and doesn’t take life too seriously. He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. We were playing a lot of cards and board games last night, and he definitely hates to lose.”
This marks Scheffler’s third Masters appearance, though he played the course several times as an amateur. On one occasion while playing at Texas, the Longhorns boarded a plane in Austin, played a dream round at Augusta National, and flew back home the same night.
“That was pretty cool,” he said.
Scheffler has maintained for years that majors suit his game better than week-to-week courses. In seven major championship starts, he has four top-10 finishes. He tied for 19th in his Masters debut in 2020 and tied for 18th last year.
“I’ve been fortunate,” said Scheffler. “I played the first two rounds last year with Phil, and then in (2020) I got paired with Tiger on Sunday.”
Clearly a fast learner, Scheffler put the pedal down on a day when par was a coveted score.
Meanwhile, Woods bogeyed four of his first five holes – his worst start at Augusta – in swirling conditions but battled back with four birdies over the last 11 holes to make the cut in his first start in over 500 days.
“I’ve got a chance going into the weekend,” said Woods. “Hopefully I’ll have one of those light bulb moments and turn it on in the weekend and get it done. You’ve seen guys do it with a chance going into the back nine. If you are within five or six going into the back nine, anything can happen. I need to get myself there.”
While this is all still new to Scheffler, he agrees with Burns that life hasn’t changed much since he recently ascended to the top of the world. His friends still make fun of him. There are still chores to be done.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be ranked No. 1,” said Scheffler, “but at the end of the day, I don’t get any shots for it.”
Not that he needs any.
Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau highlight notable players to miss the 2022 Masters cut at Augusta National