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Scottie Scheffler wins second Masters in 3 years; Bhatia finishes T-35, Theegala T-45

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Scottie Scheffler wins second Masters in 3 years; Bhatia finishes T-35, Theegala T-45

Augusta, April 15 (Ajit Weekly News) World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler lived up to his billing with a four-shot victory at the Masters Tournament to win a second Green Jacket in three years at Augusta National Golf Club.

Scheffler, who started as a big favourite, opened the week with a 66 and had rounds of 72 and 71 in the windy conditions. He entered the final day with a one-shot advantage.

Scheffler pulled away to sign for a 68 and finish at 11 under, while Swede Ludvig Aberg carded 69 to be the nearest challenger at seven under on his Major Championship debut.

Aberg was three shots clear of Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood and American duo Max Homa and Collin Morikawa.

Indian Americans, Akshay Bhatia (73) and Sahith Theegala (75), finished T-35 and T-45, respectively. Bhatia was making his debut, while Theegala was playing for the second time, after being in the Top-10 last year.

Bhatia, who has had a whirlwind fortnight including a win and a spot into the Masters, said, “I haven’t truly understood what’s happened the last couple weeks. Everything about it is amazing. Volunteers, all the green jackets, they were so kind, so welcoming, so congratulating.

“I think being my first Masters, it’s pretty cool kind of being the last person in. All in all, it was an awesome week. Had a lot of family out there, and it was a special week for a lot of us.”

Theegala said, “I was just so happy last year with how I played. I played great all week last year. My game feels better than it did last year. I just made so many mental mistakes. Just got a little antsy and tried to push things, and my short game was off. I putted probably four or five three-putts today.”

Korea’s Byeong Hun An posted his best Masters Tournament finish with a tied-16 but was left ruing a cold putter which saw him miss out on an automatic return to Augusta National by a single stroke.

The 32-year-old signed off on his fifth appearance at the year’s opening major with a 3-over 75 where his scorecard included a mix of five birdies, six bogeys and a double bogey. The top-12 finishers and ties earn invitations back to next year’s Masters.

Tom Kim fired the day’s lowest of 66, highlighted by eight birdies, to share 30th place with amongst others, compatriot Si Woo Kim, who signed off with a 70 in what was his eighth successive Masters appearance. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the lone Asian to win the Masters in 2021, closed with a 74 for tied 38th.

For some time, Scheffler did have to share the lead. Yet, a hat-trick of birdies from the eighth steadied him and there was no scare after that, He survived Amen Corner in level par while his challengers faced a lot of problems.

Scheffler arrived at Augusta on the back of finishing first, first and second in his last three starts, with top 20s in each of his four Masters appearances including his win in 2022.

As well as the favourite’s tag, he also had the possibility of having to withdraw mid-event with wife Meredith expecting the couple’s first child imminently but he took it all in his stride and produced one of the most dominant Masters performances of recent years.

“It’s a very special time for both of us,” he said. “I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again. I really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time. I’m looking forward to getting home and celebrating with Meredith. It’s been a long week here without her but I’m just looking forward to getting home.

“I will definitely enjoy the birth of my first child but with that being said, I still love competing. My priorities will change here very soon. My son or daughter will now be the main priority, along with my wife, so golf will now be probably fourth in line. But I still love competing. I don’t plan on taking my eye off the ball anytime soon, that’s for sure.”

Scheffler needed to get up and down to save par on the first and second and did the same from the sand on the driveable third for a birdie and a two-shot lead.

He missed the green again on the next to drop a shot and when he found sand on the seventh for another bogey, he was in a three-way tie at the top.

While Scheffler’s playing partner Morikawa made seven consecutive pars, Aberg holed a 22-footer on the par-five second to get up and down for birdie and then hit a beautiful approach to four feet at the seventh.

A deft chip on the second gave Homa a birdie and after bogeying the seventh following a poor tee-shot, he made a two-putt birdie on the par-five eighth to make it a four-way tie.

In the final group, Scheffler made a smart up-and-down and Morikawa hit a beautiful pitch after being forced to lay up as both men took advantage of the eighth but ahead at the ninth, Aberg holed a 36-footer to keep pace.

There was then a three-shot swing, with Scheffler setting up a tap-in birdie and Morikawa making a double-bogey after leaving a ball in the sand on the ninth, while Homa got within one thanks to an approach to three feet at the tenth.

But Scheffler was relentless, putting his second to nine feet at the tenth for a third birdie in a row and a two-shot lead heading into Amen Corner.

As always, it had its say, with Aberg making a double after finding water on the 11th and Homa making one of his own after putting his tee-shot into a bush on the 12th.

That meant Scheffler led by three despite dropping a shot himself on the 11th and he safely navigated Golden Bell with a par.

Aberg and Scheffler both made two-putt birdies on the par-five 13th and a pair of gains after pinpoint approaches on the next as Aberg provided the only resistance, but Scheffler would not be denied, putting his tee-shot to nine feet on the 16th as he cruised to victory.

Morikawa made another double-bogey on the 11th but picked up shots on the 13th and 15th before a bogey on the last saw him sign for a 74, while Homa bogeyed the 17th in a 73.

Fleetwood made birdies on the first, seventh and 13th in a bogey-free 69 to finish two shots clear of Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith, with Xander Schauffele the only other player in red numbers at one under.

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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