Takeaways from the 2022 Masters: Scottie Scheffler seeks to prove his bona fide, Justin Thomas hides to enter Moving Day

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It should perhaps come as no surprise that the No. 1 golfer in the world, who has also won three of his last five tournaments, shot a 67 on Friday at the 2022 Masters and holds a five-stroke in the first major of the year. However, most of the No. 1 players in the world have not become No. 1 in the world just two months away from never having won a PGA Tour event – ​​like Scottie Scheffler.

The accelerated run for Scheffler, 25, this week mimics his run of the past two months. His first PGA Tour victory came on Feb. 13 at the Phoenix Open. His second was March 6 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His third was lost three weeks later on March 28 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the same day he became the No. 1 golfer on the planet.

And now, two weeks later, he equaled the record by holding the largest 36-hole lead (five strokes out of four competitors) in Masters history.

Scheffler has quietly been a beast in the majors over the past few years. His last six starts have resulted in top-20 finishes, and he’s been a statistical mainstay during his career despite only winning two months ago. Again this week, he leads the pack in shots won from tee to green, and his performance is certainly enduring.

After 36 holes and two days of a Masters which were therefore dominated by the stunning play of the returning Tiger Woods, this event finally has a narrative outside of the Big Cat. Four of five golfers who have led by five shots after 36 holes at the Masters won a green jacket. The only one who did not accomplish this feat came before the start of World War II.

It shouldn’t seem odd that the world’s No. 1 picks up a Masters victory in his third start at Augusta National. And yet, because her rise to the top of the world happened as quickly as she did, doubt remains.

One of the storylines of the week was whether Scheffler was a true No. 1. The question wasn’t whether he was a good golfer, but rather whether he was just on a radiator.

A Masters victory would erase any doubt about Scheffler’s gift and his future. Now the question that swamped the first part of this week — what will Tiger Woods do at the 2022 Masters? — has been deleted and replaced by a man who wears Big Cat Nikes. The question facing Scheffler now is the same one Tiger has answered so many times in his career: will anyone catch the world No. 1 player on the last 36 holes of this major championship?

Here are nine more thoughts on the second round of the 2022 Masters.

2. The Cat survives: Again, 71-74 might not look great in the history books, but Tiger presents a performance through the ages considering he was roaming prosthetics around this time a year ago . After coming out in 39, he fought his way to a 35 on the back nine and easily made it on the weekend. Will he play on Sunday? I don’t think it’s likley considering how poor he’s been so far and how broken his body is right now. However, Saturday will be telling, and we might just get one last magic act from the cat where he’s been dominating the most.

“I don’t feel as good as I would like,” Woods said. “It’s OK. Like I said, I have a chance to go into the weekend. Hopefully I’ll have one of those light bulb moments and light it up on the weekend. end and that I will. You’ve seen guys do it with a chance of getting into the back nine. If you’re in the five or six before the back nine, anything can happen. I gotta get there . That’s the key. I have to get there. Tomorrow will be a big day.”

3. Dustin Johnson is hiding: The grind was on for DJ on Friday after two bogeys caused by horrible drives on numbers 7 and 9 on the front nine. He made nine straight pars on the back nine to enter the house with a 73 that didn’t look great on paper but was nearly two better than the field average in Round 2. DJ knows that the weekend is long, and he’s just trying to play his way into Sunday afternoon. His patience and discipline (seriously, patience and discipline for DJs) is admirable, and winning a Masters at 6 cents would be even more impressive than winning it at a record 20 cents like he did a year ago and half.

4. Justin Thomas jumps, Collin Morikawa moves: Morikawa’s slide into the top 10 in the rankings was quieter than JT’s, but those are your two “if he comes out in 31 early today, things will get spicy” to watch on Saturday. Thomas put on a show. He matched Scheffler’s 67 late in the day, birdied 14-16 and completely covered his 76 from Thursday. He’s rightfully in the game, and after gaining 5.6 shots on approach shots in the second set, there’s a path to discord on Sunday for him that doesn’t seem inconceivable.

Watch the Masters 2022 live on Saturday with Masters Live as we follow the world’s best golfers through Augusta National with Featured groupscheck in at the famous Amen Corner and see the leaders around the lap holes 15 & 16. Watch live on CBSSports.comthe CBS Sports App and Paramount+.

5. 2011 and 2016 also: After Thursday, I felt that with a ranking that included Dustin Johnson, Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith – the top three at the November Masters – that we get a 2020 redux. Apparently we also get more iterations of 2011 and 2016. Charl Schwartzel (the 2011 champion) shot a 3-under 69 on Friday and is 3-under after 36 holes. He has missed his last six cups in the world and has not had a top 10 since last July. Danny Willett (the 2016 champ) shot 74 but still sits in the top 10. To add to the 2016 narrative, Willett took over co-lead at some point on Friday, and Jordan Spieth – who missed the cut – in pumped two into the water at No. 12.

6. Most difficult test: Friday’s score average reached 74.6, mostly due to nightmarish gusts of wind that were as brisk as they were inconsistent. The best indication of Augusta National’s difficulty on Friday? Six golfers shot rounds in the 60s, seven shot rounds in the 80s.

7. Hideki back to back? I was perhaps most impressed with Hideki Mastsuyama’s 3-under performance so far this week. He has been a non-factor for most of the past few months and pulled out of the Texas Open last week due to a neck injury. Now? He has a real shot at becoming the first golfer since Tiger in 2001-02 to win back-to-back Green Jackets.

8. How good is the golf? Larry Mize, 63, who averaged 230 yards from the tee this week, beat Bryson DeChambeau, 28, who averaged 310 yards from the tee at a golf course he said was playing par 67 for him. I know DeChambeau is clearly not in perfect health, but imagine that happening in any other sport!

9. Bubba being Bubba: Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that absurd shot on the No. 18 that led to a birdie for Bubba Watson and helped him get through the weekend in Augusta.

10. Who can win? If we think the trend below will continue, the winner of the Masters 2022 will be one of the following.

  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Charles Schwartzel
  • I am Sunjae
  • Shane Lowry
  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Harold Varner III
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Kevin Na
  • Cam Smith

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