Unshakeable Scottie Scheffler focused on securing second Masters title


Unshakeable Scottie Scheffler focused on securing second Masters title

Scottie Scheffler reacts after making birdie on the 18th green during the third round of the Masters
Scottie Scheffler reacts after making birdie on the 18th green during the third round of the MastersAFP
There isn't much that can fluster Scottie Scheffler (27).

The American came into Augusta National this week as the favourite to win the Masters and the number one golfer in the world while at the same time, away from the course, his wife is expecting their first child imminently.

He faced a first round impacted by rain delays and threats of storms, a Friday with winds that ruined many rounds and then on Saturday treacherous, fast, greens and a leaderboard that was constantly shifting around him.

But the man seeking a second Masters title after his triumph in 2022 ended the third round with a one-stroke lead over compatriot Collin Morikawa.

"I'm proud of how I played today. It was a good fight out there. The golf course was extremely challenging. The greens were very firm, very fast, and it was extremely difficult again today. So probably looking for more of the same tomorrow," said Scheffler after ending his round with an eight-foot birdie putt to regain the solo lead.

"It was very challenging out there. But it's a major championship. I don't think Augusta wants their golf course to be very easy," he quipped.

With his trademark calmness, the 27-year-old coped with the blow of a double-bogey on the 10th and bogey on the 11th by bouncing back with an eagle on the 13th.

While others around him saw their rounds run away from them, particularly Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard, who suffered five straight bogeys on the back nine, Scheffler was his characteristic calm self.

Scheffler is rarely demonstrative during play but he reacted to his eagle with an impassioned fist pump that indicated the putt's significance.

"I would say (it was) extremely important. That's why I think you saw a bit of emotion there from me on 13 because it was an important time in the tournament. And it was nice kind of turning my Saturday around," he said.

Scheffler, with eight wins on the PGA Tour, is hugely respected by fellow players and the broader golfing community but, perhaps because of his subdued style, has yet to become a firm fan favourite.

'My little world'

More fans had started to get behind him by the time he got out of difficulty in a tricky position in the pine needles on the third and got up and down for an unlikely birdie.

It was noticeable throughout stretches of his round that Scheffler had his head down, as if staring at his shoes.

"I do my best to try and stay in my little world out there. And sometimes when you get little surprises... just trying to do my best to stay in the moment. So maybe that's why my head was down a bit more," he said.

By the time he got to Amen Corner, it may not have been "Scottie Mania" but there was real support for the modest Texan.

He can expect much more of that on Sunday as he looks to become the 18th golfer to have won multiple Masters titles and said that in spite of his sometimes withdrawn demeanour on course, he enjoys hearing the support.

"I try to feed off the energy from the crowd a little bit. It's nice walking onto these tee boxes and getting a nice ovation," he said.

"I double 10 and bogey 11, and then we were walking up that tee on 12 and everybody kind of stands up behind the tee and starts cheering me on. It's a really nice feeling to have the crowd behind you. I try to embrace that as much as possible out there."

Without the company of his pregnant wife Meredith, Scheffler has some close friends and old college buddies staying with him on Saturday night.

He said he expects to have food delivered and maybe play some cards but he also has plans in place should there be an important call from Meredith.

"I definitely have a way to get home pretty quickly," he said. "I'll be available to go home then whenever I need to."


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