American Scottie Scheffler won the 2022 Masters despite a spectacular attack from Rory McIlroy on Sunday.
Cheffler survived early pressure from Cameron Smith and then held off an oncoming McIlroy to win for a remarkable fourth time in his last six events.
The 25-year-old American was embarrassed making four putts in 18th place, but a final 71 landed 10 under par and three shots ahead of McIlroy, whose stunning 64 equaled the lowest final round in tournament history.
Smith rebounded from a devastating triple-bogey on the 12th to end in a tie in third place with Five Under alongside Ireland’s Shane Lowry, the former Open champion who recovered from his own triple-bogey on the fourth and posted a 69 returned.
The key moment for Lowry, however, was a costly triple bogey off an erratic tee shot.
Scheffler took a three-shot lead on the final round and after seeing his advantage reduced to a single shot as Smith shagged the first two holes, he chipped in for an unlikely birdie on the third to restore his cushion overnight when Smith bogeyed the same hole .
Smith also threw a shot on the difficult par 3 fourth hole and the gap lasted for four shots at the turn before the Aussie birdied superbly on the 11th, the course’s most difficult hole.
Smith was looking to join Tiger Woods as the only player to win the Masters and Players Championship that year and his chances ended promptly when he hit a terrible tee shot on the 12th at Rae’s Creek.
That left an inspired McIlroy alone in second place, four shots behind Scheffler, until the Northern Irishman birdied a stunning green bunker on the 18th.
That completed a brilliant 64, just one shot off the course record, and surpassed McIlroy’s previous lowest score of 65 in the opening round in 2011, when he took a four-stroke lead after 54 holes before collapsing to a final 80.
“This tournament never ceases to amaze and this is the happiest I’ve ever been on a golf course,” said an enthusiastic McIlroy. “To play as well as I do and then finish like this is just amazing.”
McIlroy felt his exploits would not be enough, as during his speech Scheffler assessed a birdie putt on the 14th that duly converted American there and scored another shot the next to seal a comfortable victory.
“I tried well and couldn’t ask for more of myself,” added McIlroy, who needs to win the Masters to complete a career grand slam. “I’ll come back and keep trying.”
McIlroy had shagged the first bird and driven the green on the third to set up another, perhaps fueled by missing the par 5 second after hitting a 376-yard drive, but then his approach into one Bunker urged.
The four-time Major winner also collected shots on the seventh and eighth before missing another good chance on the ninth, but quickly made up for it by slotting in from the end of the green on the 10th and also an eagle on par -5 made 13..
Five-time Masters champion Woods completed a second straight 78 as the final group began their rounds but admitted playing this week was one of the biggest wins of his career after being injured in a horrific car accident 14 months ago had .
“For not winning an event, yes. Yes, without a doubt,” Woods said.
“I don’t think people really understand that. The people close to me understand that. Some of the players close to me saw it and saw some of the images and things I had to endure.
Woods said he is unsure if he will play the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills next month but that he will play the 150th Open Championship in July at St Andrews, the scene of two of his Open wins.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/us-masters/rory-mcilroys-sensational-sunday-surge-comes-up-short-as-world-number-one-scottie-scheffler-wins-masters-41540254.html Rory McIlroy’s sensational surge on Sunday comes up short as world number one Scottie Scheffler wins the Masters