Scottie Scheffler holds on to Masters lead to secure his first Major championship
Scottie Scheffler showed ice cold consistency on the final day of The Masters to win his first green jacket – proving just why he’s world No.1.
The American started the day on 10- under, three shots ahead of Australia’s Cameron Smith. It was the Queenslander who got off to a promising start with a pair of birdies on the first two holes. But after sinking a spectacular chip on the third, Scheffler never really looked back.
There was a hint of a rally when Smith birdied the 11th. But a score of six on the par three 12th effectively ended his chances. In the end he was overtaken by Rory McIlroy, himself chasing a Grand Slam of Major victories. The Northern Irishman hit an astonishing round of 64, his magical bunker shot on the 18th one of the day’s highlights.
The day, though, belonged to Scheffler, whose final round of 71 – including four birdies – was pure class.
Smith finished third on 5- under, tied with Ireland’s Shane Lowry. America’s Colin Morikawa finished fourth on 4- under.
Elsewhere, Australia’s Min Woo Lee ended the weekend 14th; Marc Leishman finished 31; Cameron Davis 46th. Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, tied 48th.
Tiger Woods, who dominated so many of this week’s headlines, finished on 13- over. Not quite the fairytale comeback fans hoped for, but the fact the five-time champion completed 72 holes was remarkable; just 14 months ago he underwent extensive emergency surgery to save his right leg following a car accident.
There’s so much to reflect on the second day of this year’s Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta, GA. Aussie Cam Smith couldn’t kick on his opening day spell when he languished a lot of pars and a few bogeys in a total of +2, 74 shots, although he finished Day 2 well with two birdies at holes 15 & 18. There’s still two days left going into the weekend & make up some lost time, as he’s Tied 6th at a total of -2.
The same say for South Korea’s Sungjae Im, who lost the lead to Scottie Scheffler, following three birdies, five bogeys & a majority of pars at +2 (74 shots). But again, he’s still in the mix at Tied 2nd going into Day 3 tomorrow & hopefully be the first South Korean to wear the green jacket.
We also saw some of the improved competitors today alongside Im in the shared 2nd spot; Ireland’s Shane Lowry, Reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama from Japan & 2011 Masters winner South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel. Meanwhile, Harold Varner III & Kevin Na continued their impressive start with the same score as yesterday at -2 (71 shots), where they will look to break into the Top 5 zone & have an outside crack for the lead if things work out after Day 3.
Dustin Johnson’s struggles continue that was miles away from the promised start he produced in Round 1, with only one birdie collected in the 4th hole at +1, 73 shots. It will be interesting to see if he can regroup in the weekend spells of Rounds 3 & 4, as he currently sits in Tied 6th, total -2. Danny Willett & Joaquin Niemann also endured some inconsistencies that saw them fall down the leaderboard in Tied 10th. And Patrick Cantlay slipped outside the Top 10 from 7th to 19th alongside Tiger Woods, who did enough to make the cut at +2 today (74 shots).
Two rounds down, two to go with Scottie Schaeffler as your leader from Tied 3rd yesterday at -3 to -8. Whoever is leading after Day 3, we will see an exciting finish that will change everything on Sunday at the Augusta National Golf Club.
It’s good to see an Australian in Cameron Smith doing so well, who is currently in 2nd after the 1st Day of the 2022 Masters in Augusta, GA. He may fired off poorly when Smith shot six in the first hole through Par 4, but he gradually improved as it goes where he racked up three eagles & four birdies at -4 (68 shots).
At the end of the day, the leader you’re looking at is Sunjae Im from South Korea; he was very consistent with plenty of 3s & 4s that earned him a whopping six birdies apart from the three bogeys at -5 (67 shots).
Then there are also a lot of 3rd place runners catching right up to Smith and Im’s radar, with Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler, Danny Willett & Joaquin Niemann all tied at -3 (69 shots).
Johnson fired off well where he sniffed around Smith & Im earlier on for the lead. Although his form may have dipped going into the 2nd half spell that began to slip away from joint 1st with Smith & Im, there’s still room for improvement to catch up tomorrow if he wants to regain the lead & try to snatch that green jacket for the second time. Meanwhile, Willett, Scheffler & Niemann always kept their eye within the Top 3, having never been out of shape throughout the opening day as they look to hold back Johnson & split this front-row battle of Smith & Im on Day 2 tomorrow.
Jason Kokrak & Corey Conners sat comfortably outside the Top 6 throughout the opening day alongside Patrick Cantlay, who improved lately with four birdies in the 2nd half spell. And we also can’t forget the return of Tiger Woods after a freak accident earlier last year; he shot a lot of pars alongside three birdies in joint 10th at -1 (71 shots).
It will be interesting to see which two runner-ups from the 2020 Masters Tournaments will be up in front by the end of Day 2 tomorrow at Augusta National Golf Course.
Although the golf season has been in full swing for months, for many fans, the Masters is the official start of the golf season. After all, it is the first major championship in the calendar year and a “tradition like no other.” One cannot think of the Masters without fondly recalling 1986 when Jack Nicklaus stormed from behind on the back nine on the final day to win his 6th Masters at the age of 46. Similarly, people vividly remember Tiger Woods’ first triumph in 1997 and his unexpected win in 2019.
Last year, Justin Rose jumped to the early lead in the Masters with an opening round of 65. However, he failed to break par in any of the next three rounds and finished 7th. A third round of 65 by Hideki Matsuyama put him in great position and despite a final round of 73, walked away with his first major and first Japanese-born player to win the Masters. Will Zalatoris finished a shot back at nine-under par.
Taking a look at this year’s field and there are numerous big names are set to tee it up, including the likes of past champions Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott. There is even a remote chance that Woods himself tees it up.
Oddly enough, Matsuyama is a longshot to defend at 28-to-1 odds and Zalatoris is at 35-to-1, so expect a different top end of the leaderboard this time around.
One of the hottest players on the PGA Tour and one to watch is Cameron Smith, who has two wins this season and is ranked sixth in the world. Despite being arguably the hottest player currently on the PGA Tour, Smith’s odds of winning at 16-1 are behind Jon Rahm (9-1), Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Thomas (12-1), and Rory McIlroy at 14-1. For McIlroy, a win would complete the much-coveted grand slam. However, the Masters has been a very difficult challenge for the 32-year-old, who has finished outside the top 20 in two of his last three starts at Augusta, including a missed cut last year.
Don’t be surprised if 24-year-old Viktor Hovland makes a run at the championship. He has a win and four top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour this season. Ranked 4th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Hovland has been in the top ten in three of his last five starts.
Other players who could seriously contend for the Masters title this year include Brooks Koepka, Scottie Sheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, and Bryson DeChambeau.
The Augusta National course the players will face is different from past years. Changes to the first hole of “amen corner” at number 11 and the 15th will add 35 yards to the course, increasing the distance to a record 7510 yards. The dogleg on the 11th hole is slightly diminished and some trees were removed from the right side of the fairway.
In addition, there are new greens on the 3rd, 13th, and 17th holes. The 11th hole has a wider fairway giving players a nice chance of reaching the green even on balls missed to the right. Despite that fact, the trouble around the green is increased, so an already difficult hole could play even tougher this year. The dogleg left on the 13th hole that gives the big bombers a chance to cut the corner, we expected to change but has remained intact. However, a change to the length of this hole is likely to occur for future Masters tournaments.
In the end, the only real changes this year’s players must be concerned about are those to the three greens mentioned and to the 11th and 15th holes. Augusta National is difficult enough without any major changes.
It’s time to sit back and enjoy perhaps first major championship of the PGA season!
Great to see The Masters return in the usual April spot. As it always been in a long time. After the 2020 edition finally came during November due to COVID.
Justin Rose from England leads after Round 1 today on -7. Brian Harman not far behind on -3 who hails from Savannah, GA. Where he is tied up with Hideki Matsuyama (Japan). Plus two Americans round off the Top 5. Will Zalatoris who leads out of the youth alone. He is joint 4th from San Francisco, California. And Webb Simpson aged 35 from Raleigh, NC.
Jordan Speith is in 12th spot/tied 8th at -1 today. Just behind Tyrell Hatton who shot a great birdie in the 12th hole. He came off a tour win last week in Texas. With plenty of work to catch up tomorrow if he wants that green jacket badly. As written in our 2021 Masters preview. Marc Leishman is the No.1 Aussie here. He is aged 37 from Warrnambool, Victoria in 19th spot/tied 13th at Even Par.
Rory McIIroy fired off against his way in 66th at four over par. He came here as the underdog with plenty of criticism regarding his swing. Which led to the hiring of Pete Cowen. Things might change over the next day or two. Well thankfully his dad is okay after he was hit off McIlroy in the 7th hole. But right now the chance to take home the green jacket is a tall order. Same goes to Bryson DeChambeau. He may have won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month.
But his run here in Augusta does not really benefit his preparations. He too has also entered The Masters as one of the favourites. Just like the delayed 2020 edition where it did not end well. So far there is no sign of early progress. He is four places behind McIIroy in 70th on four over par. Not a great start from both men.
Day 1 is complete with former World No.1 Rose leads the line. Speith still has time to enter the Top 10. Then look to close down to the front row. The same goes to Leishman. And it will be interesting to see if both McIIroy & DeChambeau turns around tomorrow. Cannot wait for Day 2 of 4 in the 2021 Masters. It starts at 5am tomorrow & Sunday. Followed by 4am Monday morning for the final round.