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Tuesday, July 05, 2022
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

A Masters full of firsts

All eyes fall on Scottie Scheffler, the hottest golfer on the planet

The logo for the Masters Tournament made of flowers, in front of the clubhouse of the Augusta National Golf Club.
The logo for the Masters Tournament made of flowers, in front of the clubhouse of the Augusta National Golf Club.

The 86th “tradition unlike any other” was anything but traditional, with first-timers dominating the Masters Tournament all weekend.

For the 73rd time, the coveted green jacket was donned by the winning golfer, as Scottie Scheffler secured his first major title by a three-stroke margin.

Amidst sloping putts and caddies’ hushed tones, the manicured turf of Augusta National saw Scheffler notch the biggest victory of his career — solidifying his No. 1 status in the Official World Golf Rankings.  

The 25-year-old’s scorecard read an impressive 10-under-par at the renowned Georgia course, taking his February and March slew of wins to new heights. 

“I cried like a baby,” Scheffler told CBS Sports. “If you’re going to choose a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament. I’m really at a loss for words right now.”

And rightfully so.

Sunday saw Scheffler solidify his status as the hottest golfer on tour.

But it hasn’t all been easy for the Ridgewood, NJ native. The athlete showed clear potential, but reaped little rewards in his 2018 PGA Tour debut. 

Scheffler finished in the top-10 of the final three majors of 2021, but was unable to finish atop the pack.  

That all changed on Feb. 13, when Scheffler won his first ever professional golf tournament in a playoff against Patrick Cantlay at the Phoenix Open. He hasn’t looked back since.  

The budding star landed four first-place finishes in a 57-day span, the shortest amount of time it has ever taken a player to go from one to four tournament wins. 

This PGA Tour season has been a boon for the golfer, who has earned seven top-10 appearances and an all-American Ryder Cup win.

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And now his Nike-branded belt contains one of the four major titles, after he bested Cameron Smith down the stretch.

Smith, on the other hand, fizzled out down the stretch.

Smith’s prayers went unanswered at Augusta’s infamous “Amen Corner” (the most testing three-hole stretch on the entire course), as a triple bogey on the iconic 12th hole par-3 took him out of striking distance after his tee shot found the water. Smith finished the tournament in third, tying with Shane Lowry.

New forces were met with returning legends, as Tiger Woods returned to PGA Tour action for the first time since his February 2021 car crash, shooting 13-over-par and finishing in 49th place.

The finely mowed fairways got to witness more additions to the history books over the weekend, too. 

Rory McIlroy comfortably cruised into second place, placing 7-under-par for the tournament, and managed to match the lowest final-round score in Masters history. 

McIlroy holed out from the greenside bunker on the 18th hole to finish his fourth round at an incredible 8-under 64. 

Sunday saw more course records, as Min Woo Lee tied the event record for front-nine score. The Masters first-timer carded an eagle on the second and finished with four birdies in a row to end the front nine at an outstanding 6-under 30.

This year’s major also saw a record-setting $15 million purse for competitors, besting its previous payouts by $3.5 million, as Scheffler lay claim to an unprecedented $2.7 million of it.

But some things still stayed the same, as they always do at Augusta this time of year. 

“Amen Corner’s” watery obstacles, winds and status as a one stroke index unnerved as many seasoned professionals as ever.  

Tight lineups, golden views and packed crowds were unfaltering over at the Georgia course.    

Players will now turn their attention to the PGA Championship — the year’s second major — which will take place from May 19-22. Scheffler will look to harness his momentum in his attempt to obtain the second leg of the calendar grand slam at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK.

Sophie McNally is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at sophie.mcnally@ubspectrum.com


SOPHIE MCNALLY
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Sophie McNally is an assistant sports editor at The Spectrum. She is a history major studying abroad for a year from Newcastle University in the UK. In her spare time, she can be found blasting The 1975 or Taylor Swift and rowing on a random river at 5 a.m.  

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