Scottie Scheffler storms to Masters win after four-way fight becomes procession

<span>Jon Rahm puts the Green Jacket on Scottie Scheffler after the world No 1 won by four shots. </span><span>Photograph: Matt Slocum/AP</span>
Jon Rahm puts the Green Jacket on Scottie Scheffler after the world No 1 won by four shots. Photograph: Matt Slocum/AP

The Masters is supposed to get under way on the back nine on Sunday. Scottie Scheffler did not bother waiting that long. Such an approach is befitting a golfer now so dominant that comparisons with Tiger Woods in his pomp are perfectly appropriate.

Hopes were rising that Ludvig Åberg might become the first Masters debutant since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to take delivery of the Green Jacket. Åberg’s achievement would actually have been even more historic; he had never played in a major championship before teeing up at Augusta National on Thursday.

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From 36ft at the 9th, Åberg produced a stunning moment. His downhill, swerving birdie putt found the bottom of the cup. Galleries whooped and hollered. Moments later, Åberg was laughing along with his caddie by the side of the green. Stark evidence of the innocence of youth. Pressure, what pressure? He was tied for the Masters lead after 63 holes. A year ago, Åberg was still in a Texas college.

Åberg’s problem at this point was the identity of the man in the group behind. It still seems incredible that Scheffler’s approach to the par four 9th didn’t go in, the path of the ball deviating by a matter of millimetres over its final couple of rolls. A birdie three was sufficient to regain the solo lead. It was an advantage Scheffler would never concede. Or to be frank, an advantage he never looked like conceding. Cheeseburgers and milkshakes are back on the champion’s dinner menu for 2025.

Scheffler was odds-on before round four for a reason. One gets the impression the 27-year-old could be tickled from head to toe with a feather duster and stand completely motionless. He has now won the Masters twice in his last three attempts, aside from becoming the first golfer to successfully defend the Players Championship. Since February 2022, Scheffler has lifted nine trophies and three in his last four starts. His wider results, a collection of top fives, point towards unparalleled consistency. As the golf world has descended into civil war and chaos, this quiet man has been the imperious one inside the ropes. He has collected equivalent to the GDP of a medium sized country in the process. From Augusta National, another $3.6m. Woods, in 2005, was the last pre-tournament favourite to prevail with azaleas as a backdrop until now.

Scheffler’s 68 was sufficient for a four-shot victory. In occasionally wild conditions, he reached 11 under par. Scheffler’s worst score in this Masters edition was 72. A 69 from Åberg earned second.

Amen Corner did bare its teeth. The most visually stunning stretch of holes in golf still carry such menace. Collin Morikawa was in touch and proceeded to double bogey the 11th. Max Homa whacked his tee shot at the 12th into a bush; two strokes was the level of his punishment, too. Åberg, like Morikawa, stumbled a hole earlier. The Swede found water with his second shot. Amazingly, Scheffler bogeyed the 11th but watched his lead stretch to three because of the carnage playing out elsewhere.

Åberg responded in a manner befitting his rising status. He collected a shot at the 13th to edge back to within two of the world No 1. Scheffler’s four on the same hole reinstated his margin for error. Back came Åberg, courtesy of a birdie on the tricky 14th. Scheffler was now relishing the battle; he fired an iron to within tap-in range to send himself three ahead with four to play. A loose Åberg drive at the 15th meant he could not take advantage of the par five. When Scheffler birdied the short 16th, Åberg was four adrift. Goodnight, Vienna.

Tommy Fleetwood’s bogey-free 69 catapulted him to a tie for third at four under. The Englishman’s position would have been even better, but for a long birdie attempt at the 16th that hit the flagstick and somehow stayed above ground. Still, this marks Fleetwood’s best Masters finish by some distance. Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith closed at minus two.

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Rory McIlroy ended up in precisely the scenario he would rather avoid, assessing the strengths of others as this major hurtled towards conclusion. A 73 meant McIlroy shared 22nd. He was pragmatic, admitting technical issues are undermining his prospects. McIlroy will also be quietly aware this wait for a career grand slam goes on. McIlroy smiled when asked what is in Scheffler’s mind as he crushes all before him. “Nothing,” McIlroy explained. “Not a lot of clutter. The game feels pretty easy when you’re in stretches like this.

“That’s the hard thing whenever you’re not quite in form. You are searching and you are thinking about it so much but then when you are in form, you don’t think about it at all.” McIlroy will bounce back, of that there is no question. We are, however, living in the age of Scottie Scheffler. Woods will surely nod in approval.