The Masters 2022: Scottie Scheffler overcomes tears and fears to clinch first major title

American shoots one-under-par 71 to win the green jacket three shots ahead of runner-up McIlroy

Scottie Scheffler poses with the Masters trophy and green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10 in Georgia. AFP
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Scottie Scheffler said he "cried like a baby" on Sunday morning before competing in the final round of the Masters and revealed he didn't feel ready to close out his first major victory.

By Sunday evening, though, golf's world No 1 was slipping on the green jacket at Augusta National after shooting a one-under-par 71, signing for a 10-under 278 and a three-shot victory over rampaging runner-up Rory McIlroy.

"I cried like a baby this morning," Scheffler said. "I was so stressed out. I didn't know what to do. I was sitting there telling [wife] Meredith, 'I don't think I'm ready for this. I'm not ready, I don't feel like I'm ready for this kind of stuff,' and I just felt overwhelmed."

Scheffler said he relaxed when he arrived at Augusta National and felt on his game after a 26-yard chip at the first hole to set up a three-foot par putt.

"I calmed down when I got to the course. Right when I got to the training room," he said. "Pretty much after parring the first hole I was settled in. I felt good."

Scheffler, who won his first PGA Tour title only eight weeks ago and took his fourth on Sunday, said he had never endured such angst before a final round, especially carrying a three-stroke advantage at the event he most dreamed about winning.

"I think because it's the Masters," he said. "I dreamed of having a chance to play in this golf tournament. I teared up the first time I got my invitation in the mail. I love this golf course.

"This would be the tournament I would want to win. You don't know how many chances you're going to get. I don't know if you get better opportunities than that. You don't want to waste them."

Scheffler is only the fifth player to win the Masters while atop the rankings, joining Welshman Ian Woosnam and Americans Fred Couples, Dustin Johnson and Woods, whose epic injury fightback dominated attention all week.

Woods 'grinds through'

Tiger Woods salutes the crowd after completing his final round at the Masters. Reuters

Spectators gave Woods a standing ovation at the 18th green for his astonishing return to golf 14 months after a car crash that left him hospitalised for weeks and unable to walk for months.

"I wasn't playing my best but to have their support out there, I don't think words can describe it," Woods said.

The 15-time major winner fired weekend 78s, his worst Masters rounds, to finish with his highest Augusta National 72-hole score of 301 and in a worst-ever 47th place.

But the fact Woods was able to walk the course and play at all was nothing short of incredible given the 46-year-old had not played a top event for 17 months and feared amputation of a right leg now held together with rods, plates, pins and screws.

"Given where I was a little over a year ago and what my prospects were, to end up here and be able to play in all four rounds, even a month ago, I didn't know if I could pull this off," Woods said. "It has been a tough road and one that I'm very thankful to have the opportunity to be able to grind through."

McIlroy's best ever finish at Augusta

Rory McIlroy celebrates after chipping in for birdie from the bunker on the 18th green during the final round of the Masters. AFP

For McIlroy, it was another case of what might have been at the Masters. Starting Sunday's final round 10 strokes behind Scheffler, the Northern Irishman fired aggressively at almost every pin and was rewarded with six birdies and an eagle in an eight-under-par 64.

He finished on seven-under 281, three shots behind Scheffler, who four-putted the last when victory was already assured. While missing out on the career Grand Slam once again, McIlroy was not feeling sorry for himself.

"I don't think I've ever walked away from this tournament as happy as I am today," said McIlroy, who in 2011 blew a four-shot lead in the final round. "I've played a really good round of golf, and it's my best ever finish at Augusta.

"It's probably one of the best rounds I've had in a major championship. I thought if I could shoot 63 today, it would give me a chance. I didn't quite get there, but I gave it a good shot.

"That's what this tournament is all about, hang around until you get to a spot where you feel comfortable to be aggressive, and that was where I was today. I found myself a little too far back."

Updated: April 11, 2022, 5:37 AM