AUGUSTA, Ga. — Golf is supposed to be the most infuriating game, and yet Scottie Scheffler made it look absurdly easy. He seemed no more stressed about winning the Masters than he did hitting balls in his New Jersey backyard as a 5-year-old, tossing them over his house and into an enchanted future as a as the best player on the planet.
Yes, while carrying a five-shot lead, he turned the 18th Green Sunday into a back-and-forth comedy worthy of his childhood spent at Rockland County mini-golf and the beach above the Hudson River. He had ground so hard and for so long over a grueling 71 ¹/₂ holes on a brutal course that he decided to calm down, break that steel grip on his concentration and have some fun. Scheffler grabbed his mouth in mock horror after his third missed putt, inspiring the gallery to stand up and cheer him on and land that fourth putt for a double bogey in the cup.
But man, did the kid ever win it.
“I’ll give myself a pass for that one,” Scheffler said while wearing the green jacket.
He has a free pass to Augusta National forever, as the first Jersey Boy champion.
In the end, the road to an under-10 finish and a three-stroke win over Rory McIlroy wasn’t as easy as it seemed. On Saturday night, Scheffler watched season 4 reruns of his favorite show, “The Office,” after spilling his dinner in the car on the way home, much to the delight of his wife, Meredith. The next morning, however, was a whole different story. That’s when the weight of the Masters’ lead from Friday crumbled on him.
“I cried like a baby this morning,” Scheffler said Sunday night. “I was so stressed. I didn’t know what to do.
He had won three PGA Tour events in the past two months, and he was already a certified Ryder Cup hero, and yet, for the first time in his career, Scheffler broke down before a final round. He told Meredith that he wasn’t up to the challenge, that he felt overwhelmed. She gave her husband a pep talk, made him a big breakfast, and Scottie calmed down when she got to the office.
“This golf course and this tournament are just different,” Scheffler explained.
He won it over anyway, showing the audience no fear in the process. Seventeen years to the day after Tiger Woods sank his magical and mysterious chip-in on the 16th to win his fourth green jacket, Scheffler sank his on the third hole to win his first while spending the week wearing the shirts and Tiger’s shoes and Tiger’s swinging irons. Cameron Smith, a solid Australian Players Championship winner, had turned a three-stroke deficit into a one-stroke deficit on the first two holes and appeared to be squeezing the leader hard.
The chip-in defined the 25-year-old Scheffler as a study in big game balance.
When victory was assured, Scheffler’s father, Scott, began to recall memories of his son’s youth – hitting balls in the snow on the 9W range, and later in the freezing darkness of the nine-yard course. holes of Orchard Hills at Bergen Community College. Scott was standing by a flag with a flashlight, near his daughters, and Scottie was shooting at them. “He was yelling at us when he was hitting him,” Scott said. “He was hitting girls.”
The course manager threw the Schefflers more than once, at least until Scott persuaded the man to measure his son’s game. “Then he didn’t bother us anymore,” Scott said. The father learned to walk away from the flag with his flashlight while his son took aim.
What a special New Jersey/New York trip it has been. Born in Ridgewood, NJ, Scottie was 4 years old when he started asking his dad to take him to the old driving range on 9W. A Navy veteran and pro by the name of George Kopac led the lineup and couldn’t believe the power and precision of the young Scottie’s swing. On angry winter days, Kopac would leave a Super Jumbo sized bucket for the boy behind the shed and make sure a rubber tee and turf mat was cleared away.
The routine was simple: Scottie hammered balls for hours into an otherwise closed range, and Kopac family members retrieved them after the snow melted. So of course, a month after George died at age 88, all the Kopacs were glued to their TVs in Rockland on Sunday.
“I wish my dad was here to see what a wonderful man Scottie has become,” Kathy Kopac wrote to the Post. “A lot of tears of happiness for Scottie were shed today. I know my dad is up there saying, ‘I knew he would be okay.’”
Scottie did it because his father, Scott, was a devoted stay-at-home dad while his mother worked tirelessly as an executive at a Manhattan law firm and later as the COO of a law firm. in Dallas. The son of a car salesman, Scott grew up as a public tuition kid in a town (Englewood Cliffs, NJ) defined by its private tuition standard of living. “We were the kids with no way out,” Scott said. He was a rough basketball player at legendary St. Cecilia High School, which was once home to a hoops and football coach named Vince Lombardi. He raised a kid strong enough to win the Super Bowl of golf.
“He’s just a nice young boy born in New Jersey and raised in Texas, and he’s got a bit of both, which is wonderful,” Scott said of his boy. “I guess he belongs to the world now. It’s public now, which is kind of scary. But he will show up well.
Don’t worry, Scottie Scheffler has already done it.