4 gamers going through the hardest check in golf: Beating Scottie Scheffler

AUGUSTA, Ga. – They are saying the roars on the Masters get louder on the weekend, and none have been louder or extra consequential on Saturday than the one which erupted from the far nook of the property on 13 inexperienced at Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership. There, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler reminded rivals and patrons alike: He was, is and would be the participant to beat.

With 31 toes left for eagle, Scheffler was freed up. He wasn’t eager about the 3-foot miss on the tenth gap that resulted in a double bogey or the 10-foot miss on 11 that put him again at 4 beneath. As a substitute, he was eager about reclaiming possession of the match. The putt snaked its approach up the inexperienced earlier than slipping into the suitable facet of the outlet.

The sometimes even-keeled Scheffler could not assist however fist pump and the echoing roar additional highlighted the fact that confronted gamers attempting to make their Saturday transfer:

What occurs when the man standing between you and a inexperienced jacket is already carrying one?

It is a query that has been related even earlier than the match started, when Scheffler — the 2022 Masters champion — arrived having received two tournaments already this season, proudly owning seven top-10 finishes to his title and one of the best ball-striking the game has seen since Tiger Woods.

By the point the third spherical ended, it was no shock that Scheffler’s title was the one one at 7-under par, one stroke away from second place. The one shock could have been that he had carried out the day’s loudest roar along with his putter.

“That is why I believe you noticed a little bit of emotion there from me on 13,” Scheffler mentioned. “As a result of it was an necessary time within the match.”

Scheffler’s roar and its impression reverberated all through the course. From the thirteenth fairway awaiting their second photographs into the inexperienced, Max Homa and Bryson DeChambeau had photographs to associate with the music. The 36-hole leaders, together with Scheffler, might solely wait and look on as Scheffler grabbed the lead that was as soon as theirs. Now, they needed to catch him.

DECHAMBEAU HAS ALREADY skilled what a serious championship win appears like. In 2020, a brawnier model of the LIV Golf startook down one of many hardest U.S. Open exams in latest historical past at Winged Foot. So much has occurred since then, together with tools adjustments, health adjustments and even DeChambeau calling Augusta Nationwide a par 67 and subsequently apologizing for it.

“He is among the best gamers on the planet,” Phil Mickelson mentioned Saturday of DeChambeau. “He would possibly do it in another way than different gamers, however that is a part of his magnificence. He is simply an unimaginable expertise.”

The self-declared extra mature, extra affected person DeChambeau confirmed as much as Augusta this week and shot the bottom spherical of the match up to now along with his 65 on Thursday. Due to an exciting hole-out for birdie on 18 that reignited his Sunday possibilities and put him 4 photographs behind Scheffler, one other 65 could also be mandatory if DeChambeau needs to placed on a inexperienced jacket.

HOMA, FOR HIS PART, has by no means fairly had a second like this. The three-time PGA Tour winner has notably underperformed in main championships, his greatest end being the latest main — a high 10 ultimately 12 months’s Open Championship. However all week, Homa has stayed inside himself and located success by — as he put it — embracing the nerves.

“Simply since you’re nervous and uncomfortable does not imply you are not going to succeed,” Homa mentioned. “I really feel like I confirmed myself that. Even when I’m nervous tomorrow, simply embrace it slightly bit.”

After watching Scheffler take again the lead from the green, Homa did not waver. He had simply made his first bogey of the day on 11 and it could be his solely blemish, permitting him to remain two photographs again of Scheffler headed into Sunday.

“I got here right here with the gratitude and appreciation that I get to do it,” Homa mentioned. “I am pleased I get to do it tomorrow. I’ll remind myself I am a canine and I am prepared for this second.”

ACROSS RAE’S CREEK on the 14th gap, Collin Morikawa should have heard Scheffler making a transfer. Not too way back, he was the one bringing the roars, taking the golf world by storm and successful two majors by the point he was 24. He is 27 now and as a substitute of changing into the game’s subsequent famous person, he is stalled. He is solely received one PGA Tour occasion since 2021 and although he is had three top-10 finishes at majors during the last two years, it is by no means felt like he is been near including a 3rd.

“I have been looking out since 2022,” Morikawa mentioned. “It has been a battle the previous few years and it hasn’t been enjoyable … generally you are looking out, and I needed to search. You must discover one thing.”

Regardless of altering putters in the midst of the match and holding on to a swing really feel for expensive life, Morikawa has discovered one thing this week, and although he is reluctant to share precisely what it’s till it lasts for 72 holes, he is drawn the mandatory confidence going into Sunday as he sits just one shot again from Scheffler.

FACING HIS OWN problem on the par-5 fifteenth, Ludvig Åberg was maybe too far-off to have the ability to inform who the noise was for. However even at simply 24 years outdated, Aberg is not any stranger to massive moments. This can be the Swede’s first main championship look, however he already has 4 skilled wins and a Ryder Cup beneath his belt this week, and he is seemed and performed like somebody who has spent ample time round Augusta.

“I give it some thought on a regular basis, I am OK eager about it,” Aberg mentioned Saturday of the enormity of the second. “I do not suppose it’s best to draw back from it. I do not suppose it’s best to attempt to push it away. I attempt to embrace it, and I attempt to be okay with all that comes with it.”

It helps that although Aberg was born in Eslöv, he was nurtured by windy days in West Texas, the place he attended Texas Tech. All of it positioned him to be one of many recreation’s subsequent stars and probably solely the third participant ever to win a serious in his first begin. Any nerves which will come up will probably be embraced.

SCHEFFLER WOULD BE the primary one to say that such a process is less complicated mentioned than achieved.

In 2022, Scheffler’s win was punctuated by him admitting that he cried “like a child” the Sunday morning of his Masters win as a result of he was “stressed.” So much has modified since, and Scheffler says now he is extra ready to take care of all of it, which does not bode nicely for individuals who will chase him. Neither did what he did on 18.

By the point Scheffler acquired to that last gap Saturday, he was coming off a bogey and was sharing the lead with Morikawa at 6-under. It was solely becoming then that he elicited yet one more roar from the patrons, becoming that he left his rivals with one final reminder of his superiority going into Sunday. After flagging his method, the 8-foot birdie putt was good the entire approach in, giving him Scheffler the solo, 54-hole lead in a match for the eleventh time in his profession — essentially the most of any participant since 2019. To this point, he is 4-for-10 in changing these leads into victories.

“This can be a place I am very aware of,” Scheffler mentioned. “It is good to have that have however going into tomorrow that is all it’s.”

The inevitability of Scheffler will loom over Augusta on Sunday. However for Morikawa, Homa, Aberg and DeChambeau, the daunting process forward solely makes the chance in entrance of them one any true competitor would cherish: securing their very own Masters’ greatness goes to require chasing down one of the best participant on the planet. They would not have it some other approach.

“Scottie is the No. 1 participant on the planet for a cause,” Morikawa mentioned. “However on the finish of the day, it does not scare me.”

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