Back on top: Scottie Scheffler continues dominant season with 1-stroke victory at the Memorial

Having already won this year at the courses famously connected to Arnold Palmer and Bobby Jones, two of the faces that would be etched on the Mount Rushmore of golf, Scottie Scheffler added winning at Jack’s Place, shooting a final-round 2-over-par 74 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio on Sunday in the 2024 Memorial Tournament. That was enough to hang on for a one-stroke victory, his 11th career PGA Tour title.

“It was a fun test of golf. I like it when it gets this hard,” Scheffler said. “I didn’t do a whole lot great today but I did enough to get it done.”

The only other player to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship in March, the Masters in April and the Memorial in June in the same season? In 2001, Tiger Woods, another of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of golf, who won the first of five Memorial titles 25 years ago, achieved that feat.

Ahead of the PGA Championship last month, Woods was asked to describe the tremendous run by Scheffler to become the dominant world No. 1 this season. “If he putts awful, then he finishes in the top 10. If he putts decent, he wins. He putts great, he runs away. He’s just that good a ball-striker and that good an all-around player.”

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After entering the final round with a four-stroke edge, Scheffler was nursing a one-streak lead before he canned a 16-foot par putt at 16 to stretch his lead to two and despite a rocky finish, he held off Collin Morikawa, who closed in 71, his fifth top-5 finish this season. Scheffler finished with a 72-hole aggregate of 8-under 280.

“I know he didn’t have his A game on several holes today, like a lot of fella’s didn’t have their A games on several holes today, but he put enough of his A game together to win the golf tournament and that’s what it’s all about,” Nicklaus, the 18-time major winner and Memorial tournament host, said.

It marked Scheffler’s third win at a Signature event this season and fifth win in his last eight starts, making him the first to win five times in a season since Justin Thomas seven years ago and the first to win five times before the U.S. Open since Tom Watson in 1980.

Scheffler opened with rounds of 67-68 to claim the 36-hole lead and managed to extend it by a stroke despite a triple-bogey on Saturday and three-putt bogey at 18. He signed for 71. Conditions during the final round remained tough on a sun-drenched day that turned greens brick hard. With a scoring average of nearly 75, it felt a little too much like the U.S. Open had come one week early.

“Muirfield Village is growling at the players today,” said CBS’s Trevor Immelman.

Scheffler made two bogeys on the front nine and just one birdie – at No. 6 – as Adam Hadwin made an early move before stumbling late and finishing alone in third (74).

“I had put a Band-Aid on the round for a long time,” said Hadwin “and the Band-Aid came off and it was carnage.” As a consolation prize, Hadwin did earn the one spot available into the British Open at Royal Troon in July to the top finisher not already qualified,

Morikawa (71) remained hot on Scheffler’s heels, especially after he drilled a 32-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th, his longest putt he had made since the first round of the PGA Championship, a span of 202 holes, to get within one.

Scheffler failed to answer at 12 from closer range, made a nervy short-range birdie stab at 13 and watched in disbelief as his ball spun out on 15. Although he stepped up with the clutch par save at 16, Scheffler left the door open for Morikawa to catch him by missing an 8-foot par putt at 17 to cut his lead in half. But Scheffler made an up-and-down from over the green at 18, pumping his right fist with gusto when his 5-foot putt for the win dropped. Morikawa, who also played in the final group with Scheffler at the Masters in April, had seen this movie before.

Asked what about Scheffler’s game impresses him, Morikawa said, “Everything. The guy could be off balance and the ball’s right down the middle of the fairway. Look, his ball striking is incredible. Growing up, his short game and putting was always amazing, but how good he hits his irons and the control he has is amazing. Distance control is key and it’s king and he’s got that.”

Scheffler’s topped the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Approach-the-Green and his putter was just good enough: he ranked 42nd in Strokes Gained: putting in the final round and 22nd for the week in the 73-man field, lending credibility to Tiger’s assessment of his game. In the end, Scheffler got the traditional winner’s handshake from the legendary Nicklaus that he had said before the tournament that he so desired.

2024 Memorial Tournament
2024 Memorial Tournament

Scottie Scheffler with his wife Meredith and their newborn son, Bennett, after winning the 2024 Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. (Photo: Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports)

“It would mean a lot to me to be able to shake his hand and win this golf tournament with all the history here and what Mr. Nicklaus has meant to the game.”

That wasn’t the only greeting Scheffler received behind the 18th green. Wife Meredith and baby Bennett were there to congratulate him on daddy’s first win as a parent. Between adjusting to being a new parent and the emotional toll of being handcuffed and arrested before his second round tee time at the PGA Championship in Louisville last month, Scheffler was happy to be back to the familiarity of trying to chase down another victory.

“It’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I think that’s a pretty accurate description, I think, of what it’s felt like at times,” he said. “Yeah, it’s definitely nice to be sitting here a winner again.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek