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Contenders crash while Scottie Scheffler cruises

5 Min Read


Collin Morikawa posted his only over par round of the week on Sunday at the 88th Masters Tournament. (Warren Little/Getty Images)

Collin Morikawa posted his only over par round of the week on Sunday at the 88th Masters Tournament. (Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ludvig Åberg, Max Homa and Collin Morikawa piled up double bogeys

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Scottie Scheffler won it.

    The others lost it.

    As with the reign of Tiger Woods (see: Masters, 2019 et al), both statements are true – the first more so than the second, in this case. But who knows?

    Does Scheffler still go 5-under for his last 11 holes if Collin Morikawa isn’t making double bogeys at Nos. 9 and 11? Does the world No. 1 play differently if Ludvig Åberg doesn’t find the pond left of 11 and make double? Does the eventual winner think more about the weight of history and a second Masters title in three years if Max Homa doesn’t venture into the shrubbery behind 12 and also make double?

    We’ll never know.

    Scheffler (68, 11-under) is on such a roll – three wins in his last four starts, including a successful title defense at THE PLAYERS Championship – that his peers sense they’ll have to do something special to reel him in. It’s hard not to wonder, then, whether their mishaps were a case of trying to be too perfect and it backfiring.

    “No, no,” said Homa (73, 4-under, T3), insisting he was trying to aim for the fat of the green on 12, where his chances literally died in the vines. “I had nothing backfire really.”

    Morikawa (74, 4-under, T3) expounded on that.

    “No, no, no,” he said. “Look, none of my putts were dropping on the first eight holes or seven holes today. If I had two or three of those putts drop…” (Morikawa took 31 putts, his most of the week.)

    No one plays defense in golf, and players are often physically separated from one another. That said, when one of them is so far ahead of the rest, it can’t help but have an impact on those who strive to beat him. The question is what exactly is that impact? For the chasers to admit they’re over-trying would be to admit that Scheffler is living rent-free in their heads, but we are veering in the direction of Tom Weiskopf’s old quote on Jack Nicklaus:

    “Jack knew he was going to beat you,” Weiskopf said. “You knew Jack was going to beat you. And Jack knew that you knew that he was going to beat you.”

    Homa spoke afterward about Scheffler’s mind being his superpower. The life coach and best-selling author Tony Robbins, a Homa fan who was roaming around Augusta on Sunday, agreed with that take on Scheffler’s beautiful mind when PGATOUR.COM told him about it in the member’s pro shop.

    “Obviously was going to need to play some spectacular golf today,” Homa said, even though he began the day only two behind leader Scheffler. Was Homa saying that in hindsight, or was that how he was thinking on the first tee?

    Morikawa said Scheffler has always been top of his class, going back to his days as Rolex Junior Player of the Year, but refuted the idea that the winner’s best stuff is just too much to handle.

    “Look, today's a day where I fully believe that I still have it, and I know I still have it,” Morikawa said. “I've just got to keep digging a little bit deeper and really just be strong with myself because I know that – you know, I made two errors, and that cost me the tournament.

    “I still would have had to make some birdies,” he continued, “but it cost me at least some momentum and kind of staying around the lead.”

    Åberg, 24, was still competing for Texas Tech a year ago, and last June he earned direct access to the PGA TOUR – and fully exempt membership – after finishing No. 1 in the PGA TOUR University Class of 2023. He won on the DP World Tour, played in his first Ryder Cup for Europe, and won on the PGA TOUR.

    The fact remained, though, that he was playing in not just his first Masters but also his first major of any kind. The last time a Masters debutant won was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

    “This is what I have been wanting to do for such a long time,” said Åberg (69, 7 under, solo second), whose week was the best by a debutant since Will Zalatoris finished solo second to Hideki Matsuyama in 2021. “And it's quite surreal to actually have the opportunity to experience it.”

    If they weren’t trying too hard, then what happened?

    Morikawa said “Greed got the best of me” when he sprayed his drive into the right trees, then tried to get too precise with his third shot from the bunker at the ninth hole, leaving it in the sand.

    Then he found the pond left of the 11th green.

    “Just tried to hit too perfect of a shot,” he said. “It's not like at that point I was trying to press. I knew where I stood.”

    The otherwise metronomic Åberg also visited the pond on 11.

    “It was probably one of the few swings this week where I really put it in a bad spot,” he said, “where I knew I couldn't miss left and I missed it left.”

    Homa said of his 9-iron into the ivy on 12 that the punishment didn’t feel like it fit the crime.

    “I hit a good shot,” he said after authoring just his second top 10 in a major.

    Those who once tried to chase down Nicklaus ran into similar problems, as did the would-be challengers to Woods, most recently in 2019, when one player after another hit it into Rae’s Creek as Woods made history.

    Maybe Homa and Morikawa are right, and no one is pressing. Maybe it’s just all the banana peels around Amen Corner. Or maybe, just maybe, they are pressing and just don’t know it.

    Time marches on and the names change even as the story remains the same. Those trying to chase down golf’s Road Runner – Jack, Tiger, Scottie – keep making like Wile E. Coyote, instead.

    Cameron Morfit is a Staff Writer for the PGA TOUR. He has covered rodeo, arm-wrestling, and snowmobile hill climb in addition to a lot of golf. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.

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