Weekly PGA Recap: The Mean Green Machine

Weekly PGA Recap: The Mean Green Machine

This article is part of our Weekly PGA Recap series.

The 88th Masters won by Scottie Scheffler turned out to be drama-free, just like the 86th Masters won by Scheffler. That may not be exciting for TV networks or golf fans, but drama-free is a spot-on analogy for the man himself, the no-question-about-it best golfer in the world.

Scheffler played steady, tee-to-green golf all week at Augusta National Golf Club -- some might say boring golf or even, um, drama-free golf. He never wavered, never made the big mistake. Instead, he bided his time on Sunday until his three main competitors all made a fatal miscue, and they all came at the diabolical three-hole stretch of Amen Corner.

Scheffler shot a 4-under 68, including a 33 on the second nine, to win his second green jacket in a runaway by four strokes over soon-to-be-major-champion Ludvig Aberg. Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Tommy Fleetwood tied for third a whopping seven strokes back.

Late on the first nine, Scheffler, Aberg, Morikawa and Homa were tied for the lead. Then things went off the rails. A little over an hour later, Scheffler had a four-stroke lead.

  • Aberg, the 24-year-old Swede playing in his very first major, found the water on the tough par-4 11th, resulting in a double bogey.
  • Morikawa did likewise on No. 11 -- after also doubling No. 9.
  • Homa got more of a bad break than made a mistake when his tee ball on the short par-3 12th hole took an unexpectedly hard bounce into a bush behind the green. The ball was unplayable and he double-bogeyed the hole.

Scheffler was not perfect -- he made three bogeys Sunday. But none was a double, the last one came on the 11th hole and he countered those with seven birdies.

The biggest question surrounding Scheffler heading into Augusta was his putter. With the rest of his game from tee to green the best in the world by far, all he had to do was putt decently, or continue to be less horrible than he was at the beginning of the year.

Scheffler was far from horrible. He ranked 27th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting at the Masters, according to the website datagolf.com. He was even better on Sunday, ranking 14th. He's been steadily climbing in that season-long stat since last month, when he switched to a mallet-head putter. Since then, Scheffler has won at Bay Hill and THE PLAYERS, finished second at Houston and won the Masters. All that stands between him and maybe four straight wins was a missed five-footer on the 72nd hole at Houston that would've forced a playoff.

Scheffler led the Masters field in SG: Tee-to-Green, and by almost two strokes over the next guy, Byeong Hun An, +4.12 vs. +2.29, according to datagolf.com. That is huge.

"I mean, everything," said Morikawa, Scheffler's playing partner on Sunday, when asked what the world No. 1 does well. "He drives the ball plenty, plenty long, well past me. Hits his irons obviously spectacular. Keeps it simple. Makes the putts when he needs to. If he doesn't, still has plenty of chances. And just never put himself in trouble."

Said Homa: "His commitment, his mind. He is pretty amazing at letting things roll off his back and stepping up to very difficult golf shots and treating them like their own. He's obviously a tremendous talent, but I think that is his superpower."

So there you have it, Scheffler never puts himself in trouble and has a superpower. Now that Scheffler is putting better, and has won three of his past four tournaments and came within an eyelash of all four, how many tournaments will he win this season?

How many majors will he win this season? And beyond?

Here's one sliver of information for his competitors to latch on to, to give them at least a little bit of hope. And by sliver, we really mean we're grasping at straws here.

Scheffler has nine PGA Tour wins. But he's never won a tournament past the second week in April. That's right. We are now past the second week in April. Scheffler has amassed his nine wins in only five events, and one of them doesn't exist anymore (the WGC-Match Play). The other four that he's won twice each are Phoenix, Bay Hill, THE PLAYERS and the Masters. All are done until next year.

Okay, that seems more like coincidence than actual fact to support hope for the other golfers in the world.

Well, what about fatherhood? Scheffler is about to become a dad for the first time, with wife Meredith expecting later this month.

Maybe the only person who can stop Scheffler from steamrolling through every other golfer is little Scottie, or little Meredith, or whatever they decide to name their child, who will be born before next month's PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Scheffler was asked about that possibility.

"Well, I'm definitely not going to intentionally take my eye off the ball," he said. "I will go home, soak in this victory tonight. Will definitely enjoy the birth of my first child. But with that being said, I still love competing. My priorities will change here very soon. My son or daughter will now be the main priority, along with my wife, so golf will now be probably fourth in line.

"But I still love competing. I don't plan on taking my eye off the ball anytime soon, that's for sure."

MONDAY BACKSPIN

Ludvig Aberg
Aberg was playing his first major. He didn't really come close to becoming the first Masters rookie to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, especially after the double on 11, but he showed he can play this course. And if you can handle Augusta National, you can win anywhere. So it would not be a huge surprise to see the 25-year-old Swede win a major this year, even going up against Scheffler.

Max Homa
Homa finally seems to be getting the handle on this majors thing. After not finishing in the top-10 in his first 16 majors, he's now done it in his past two. He was 10th last year at the Open Championship and now T3 at the Masters. Some guys just take a little more time. We're not saying it's a slam dunk that Homa wins a major soon, or ever (see: Schauffele, Xander). But he surely should be in the mix more often.
 
Collin Morikawa
Morikawa has not been playing his best this season. But he showed this week that his best still exists, unlike some other players where that may not be the case anymore (see: Spieth, Jordan and Thomas: Justin). Morikawa finished fourth in the field in SG: Approach and sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green in his best finish ever at the Masters and third straight top-10 there.

Tommy Fleetwood
There were only three golfers who shot all four rounds at par or better. Fleetwood was one of them (also Scheffler, Cameron Smith). This was his first Masters top-10 but fourth top-25 and he's made seven of eight cuts. Really, Fleetwood has been great in all the majors, and now has finished top-10 in the past three.

Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau hung around all week thanks to his opening-round 7-under 65. He didn't break par again, but he was good enough to tie for sixth, by far the best Masters of his career. Thanks to his 2020 U.S. Open win, we'll see DeChambeau in the three remaining majors this season and all four for at least a couple more years to come.

Cameron Smith
Smith has been one of the best year after year at the Masters. His tie for sixth was his fourth top-10 there in the past five years. As with LIV-mate DeChambeau, Smith will be playing all the majors for the next few years as the 2022 winner of the Open Championship. He finished top-10 at both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open last year, so he's quite capable of delivering in all four of them.

Xander Schauffele
At some point, noting how Schauffele finishes top-10 in so many majors will start to ring hollow, if not already. He finished eighth on Sunday. He likely was too far back at the start of the day to truly contend, but he went backward, shooting a 1-over 73. It seems to many that Schauffele will win a major or majors, and soon, but the scar tissue is getting thicker and thicker. He's coming up on two years since he won a tournament of any kind. Still, Schauffele has just moved up to No. 3 in the world, the highest he's even been. 

Will Zalatoris
We feel compelled to report that Zalatoris just had his worst Masters ever. He tied for ninth. That's right, in his first two, he was runner-up and T6. Zalatoris is still having a hard time with his putter, but he now has three top-10s and another top-15 in eight starts since returning from his season-ending back surgery. As with Scheffler, if Zalatoris could only putt a little less horrible …

Cameron Young
Young is still looking for his first PGA Tour title, but he sure comes close in a lot of tournaments. He added his seventh runner-up earlier this season. And he now has five top-10s in 11 career major starts. Young tied for ninth, following last year's tie for seventh. And we think his game is probably better suited for the PGA Championship, where he tied for third two years ago, and U.S. Open. 

Patrick Reed
The 2018 Masters champion tied for 12th, just missing a fourth top-10 here in five years. Reed moved up to No. 85 in the world and will await word whether that will get him into the PGA Championship next month. The PGA usually takes everyone in the top-100, but that's no certainty for LIV golfers. The Masters is the only major Reed has officially qualified for.

Adam Schenk, Matthieu Pavon, Cam Davis
The trio all tied for 12th, earning a return invite to Augusta National for next year's Masters. Tyrrell Hatton of LIV tied for ninth and also will be back in 2025.

Nicolai Hojgaard
It's hard to believe that Hojgaard not only had the solo lead on Saturday. It's maybe harder to believe that he bogeyed the next five holes after surging to the top of the leaderboard. He continued to slide with a 76 on Sunday. But if you would've offered the 23-year-old Dane a tie for 16th at the start of his first Masters, he might've taken it. From that standpoint, Hojgaard had a very good week.

Rory McIlroy
Year 10, no career grand slam. McIlroy tied for 22nd after shooting a Friday 77 and a Sunday 73. We don't know what else to say here.

Joaquin Niemann
Niemann received one of three special invitations from Augusta National Golf Club. He tied for 22nd, done in by a Friday 78. The LIV golfer is already in the PGA Championship (and the Open Championship), so we'll see him next week at Valhalla.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson tied for 43rd after shooting four rounds over par. There was no repeat of last year's T2. Mickelson probably can continue making cuts at the Masters for at least a few years to come – that's how well he knows the course – but making the cut at the other three majors will prove to be very difficult.

Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka
The two LIV golfers were on many people's short list of possible champions, but they tied for 45th, an amazing 20 strokes behind Scheffler. LIV surely was expecting more and thought they had a good chance to capture a Green Jacket, but Rahm and Koepka were never a factor. Shocking, actually.
 
Jose Maria Olazabal
At age 58, the two-time Masters winner made the cut for the first time since 2021 and only the second time in the past decade. Olazabal tied for 45th. Vijay Singh, the other "legacy" champion to make the cut, tied for 58th, his first cash at the Masters since 2018. Singh recently turned 61.

Neal Shipley
The Ohio State graduate student and U.S. Amateur runner-up to Nick Dunlap won Low Amateur. The 23-year-old was the only one of the five amateurs to make the cut. Shipley had the thrill of a lifetime in playing the final round with Tiger Woods. He shot 73 to beat Woods by four strokes on Sunday. All that's left now for Shipley is turning pro, though there has been no word on when that might happen. Maybe at the end of the college season.

Tiger Woods
Woods broke the record for consecutive cuts at the Masters. He now has 24 in a row, snapping the tie he had with Fred Couples and Gary Player. He then shot a third-round 82, his worst round ever at the Masters, and wound up in 60th place, last among the guys who made the cut. Woods had a better week than a lot of big-name guys (see below), but how much does that mean? He said he plans to play the other majors. But like Mickelson, Woods can play Augusta National almost blindfolded. Other major tracks will likely result in a far different story.

MISSED CUTS

Jordan Spieth
Spieth is no longer the player he once was, but nobody expected the disastrous missed cut at the tournament he's played better at than any other. He opened with a double on Thursday and played even par till imploding on the par-5 15th, where he shot a quad-9 en route to a 79. Now Spieth heads to the RBC Heritage, where he's won and finished second the past two years. Will anyone feel comfortable playing him?

Dustin Johnson
Johnson is about to turn 40. He's far from the golf-freak he was for a decade on the PGA Tour. He can still deliver once in a while – he won LIV Las Vegas earlier this year – but he's no longer a consistent force in the sport. His past five majors have been: T48-T55-T10-MC-MC.

Justin Thomas
Anytime you switch caddies virtually on the eve of a major, things ain't great. Yet, with four holes to go on Friday, Thomas was not only well inside the cut line, he was on the fringe of contending. And then he went double-double-bogey-double and he shockingly was going home. Despite turning things around last fall and into the new year, Thomas' near-term future is not something we're bullish on.

Wyndham Clark
Mocking LIV guys for playing only 54 holes seemed entirely out of character for the mild-mannered, genial Clark. Especially during this time of kumbaya between the rival leagues. And when he was gone after only 36 holes, Twitter was not kind. Karma, Golf Gods, whatever you want to call it. What would Clark's sports psychologist have to say about his behavior?

Viktor Hovland
Hovland's play has been troubling all year and, while a missed cut was not expected, it wasn't a shock either. And after the trunk-slam, he pulled out of this week's RBC Heritage. In a year he was expected to challenge Scheffler for the No. 1 ranking, Hovland is going the wrong way.

Sergio Garcia
Garcia can never seem to get out of his own way. A week after getting to a playoff at LIV Miami and arriving at Augusta with a bit of momentum, not to mention during a time of détente between the two tours, he attacked the media for the split in golf. And then he split for real on Friday after his fifth missed Masters cut in his past six tries. Garcia won't be in the other majors, so we'll have to wait a year to hear what he has to say next.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for nine years. Len is a three-time winner of the FSWA DFS Writer of the Year Award (2020, '22 and '23) and a five-time nominee (2019-23). He is also a writer and editor for MLB Advanced Media.
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