Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeSportsGolfScheffler repeats at Players after Clark lip-out on 18

Scheffler repeats at Players after Clark lip-out on 18

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — In the first 49 years of the Players Championship, there never had been a repeat winner.

Jack Nicklaus couldn’t do it (three times). Neither could Fred Couples (twice), Davis Love III (twice), Tiger Woods (twice) and so many others.

On Sunday, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler became the first back-to-back winner in the 50th edition of the “fifth major” at TPC Sawgrass, chasing down Xander Schauffele from 5 strokes back at the start of the final round to win with a 72-hole total of 20 under.

“Pretty special,” he said of repeating. “That’s something you don’t get the opportunity to do very often. It’s tough enough to win one Players.”

With the two most recent major championship winners, Brian Harman (The Open) and Wyndham Clark (U.S. Open), and the world’s sixth-ranked golfer, Schauffele, chasing him, Scheffler could only watch from the driving range as the trio tried to make one more birdie to force a playoff.

Scheffler’s second victory in as many weeks wasn’t secured until after Clark birdied the iconic 17th hole to move to 1 back and then cruelly watched his 17-foot birdie try on the difficult 18th catch the left lip and spin out for par.

With an 8-under 64, Scheffler became only the fourth Players winner to shoot 65 or better in the final round, joining Nicklaus (65 in 1976), Couples (64 in 1996) and Love (64 in 2003).

Harman, Schauffele and Clark tied for second at 19 under. Former Open Championship winner Matt Fitzpatrick was fifth at 16 under, birdieing his final four holes.

Scheffler matched the largest comeback by a Players Championship winner at TPC Sawgrass; Justin Leonard and Henrik Stenson also came from 5 behind in the final round in 1998 and 2009, respectively.

Scheffler was plagued by a neck injury in the second and third rounds, but battled through the pain Saturday to post birdies on four of his last five holes to stay in the hunt. He said a “hot day [Sunday] could go a long way.”

Scheffler was indeed hot over the final 18 holes. After posting pars on his first three holes, he jumpstarted his round by carding a hole-out eagle on the par-4 fourth from 92 yards away to move to 14 under. He followed that with an 18-foot putt for birdie on No. 5 and birdie putts of 16 feet and 11 feet on Nos. 8 and 9, respectively.

Scheffler, a former Masters champion, grabbed a share of the lead at 19 under with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. He squandered a chance to take the solo lead when he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 13, his only miss inside 5 feet the entire tournament.

After falling 1 behind Schauffele, Scheffler tied him again at 20 under on the par-5 16th. After hitting his approach shot into the small greenside pot bunker, Scheffler chipped out to 1 foot and tapped in for birdie. By then, Schauffele had posted back-to-back bogeys, Clark had fallen back and Harman was running out of holes.

This story originally appeared on ESPN

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments