Every April comes the greatest golf tournament in the world: the Masters. And with it, a multitude of memories captured both audibly and visually for the world to see. Hosted annually out of Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, the yearly spectacle is the first of the four PGA Tour major championships in the professional golf season.
For the seasonal sports fan, it may just be another golf tournament on the television, but for the 90-100 participants competing in the four-day, 72-par, 7,475-yard course, it is the culmination of one’s livelihood and the coming true of childhood dreams.
The stroke-play event is highlighted by the constant changes to the leaderboard and Sunday’s final round, but the pride and joy of putting on the green jacket – as awarded to the Masters’ victor – is one of sports’ greatest traditions.
The 2022 champion was none other than recently ranked world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler. Edging Rory McIlroy by three strokes en route to a 10-under finish, the 25-year-old New Jersey product was the only player to break par in all four rounds, taking home his first major PGA Tour victory. The win was a culmination of his brilliant work ethic in his games leading up to the Masters performance.
In fact, Scheffler became just the fifth golfer to enter Masters weekend as the world No. 1 and actually go on to win the tournament (Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson). Having won four PGA Tour season events in his last six starts, Scheffler is also the very first golfer since Arnold Palmer to pick up three additional wins to start a season through Masters weekend.
“I never expected to be sitting where I am now,” Scheffler said immediately following the tournament. “You don’t expect things to come to you in this life. You just do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt… I never really thought I was that good at golf, so I just kept practicing and kept working hard, and that’s just what I’m going to keep doing.”
Despite his calm demeanor when marching down the fairway on hole 18 on Sunday, Scheffler admitted he had been dealing with significant stress and emotion en route to his victory.
“I was so stressed out,” he said of his mental state heading into the final round. “I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there telling my wife Meredith, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready.’”
But in a subtle, yet reassuring way, Meredith – his high school sweetheart – was able to remind her husband that it was God who was in control of the moment, and everything leading up to it. And it was his caddy, Ted Scott, who showed Scheffler his ‘God is in Control’ t-shirt prior to teeing off on Sunday.
“Every day when we go out there, Meredith always prays for peace, because that’s what I want to feel on the golf course, is peace and have fun and just feel His presence,” he said. “So that’s her prayer every day. That’s my prayer, and I really felt that today. I felt at peace.”
Scheffler did jokingly admit that thoughts of bombing the final round and consequences related to that had crept into his mind prior to Sunday’s eventful finish.
“She told me, ‘Who are you to say that you are not ready? Who am I to say that I know what’s best for my life?’” he reflected. “And so what we talked about is that God is in control and that the Lord is leading me; and if today is my time, it’s my time. And if I shot 82 today, you know, somehow I was going to use it for His glory.”
As a matter of fact, it turns out that Meredith may have had more to do with her husband’s win than most might come to know.
“The reason why I play golf is I’m trying to glorify God and all that He’s done in my life,” Scheffler said. “So for me, my identity isn’t a golf score. Like Meredith told me this morning, ‘If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again,’ she goes, ‘I’m still going to love you, you’re still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you and nothing changes.’ All I’m trying to do is glorify God and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in this position.”
In taking home $2.7 million in tournament winnings following the Masters, Scheffler certainly earned his fix of prize money in case he should ‘never win another golf tournament again’. But thanks to his incredible rise to the top, that likely won’t be the case. With another major just around the corner, it’s now Scheffler’s to lose.