AUGUSTA, GA. Fifteen minutes after Scottie Scheffler won his master’s degree, a golf cart rushed him to the back door of the Butler cabin. A drone hovering above and only a few birds sounded. His green jacket was waiting inside. He looked on in amazement. Of course he did. In the last 57 days, he has won four matches, including one big one, and changed everything about his career. He cannot return to the old state.
He is 25 years old. He has earned $ 10 million this season. He slipped the jacket into the cabin for the first time – took it off, so held the ceremony in front of the crowd waiting for him in green on the 18th – after finishing an interview, he came out again. He looked a little more stunned and enjoyed a few long seconds of silence until he returned to the view of the hosts, who began to cheer and clap.
“I do not really know what you are telling me …” he said.
He broke down and cried this morning – “like a child,” in his words – I feel so much more in this moment: a round of golf to beat the masters, and after a life of something like a hurricane. He saw it hit people he knew, like Jordan Spite. He returned to his wife with tears in his eyes.
“I think I’m not ready for this,” he told her.
She made him a big breakfast and tried to calm him down. She said she loves him whether he wins or loses by 10 points. They talked about their shared beliefs. He came to the lesson and began to prepare.
“Damn, it’s a long morning,” he said. “It’s long. My stomach hurts for two days.”
Back in Texas, at the Royal Oaks Country Club, members and staff prepared.
“It was pre-storm calm,” Chief Pro Dean Larson told me Sunday morning.
With the goal of following club members like Justin Leonard on the PGA Tour, Scheffler began playing there as a child, after his parents borrowed money to join.
“What’s really special,” said Todd Moyne, president of the Royal Oaks Club. “[is] Everyone knows Scotty because he grew up here. “
His dream is to become a professional.
“I wore pants when I was a kid at the Royal Oaks because I wanted to play golf on the PGA Tour,” he said.
As a boy, he wore those polo shirts and khakis to school, dressed like the Touring Pro. His classmates laughed.
“That’s right,” he laughed Sunday night.
A school student golf legend in his home state, he played in college in Texas. On Saturday afternoon, Longhorns golf coach John Fields answered his phone at the airport, taking his current team to California for an event. Designed by Alastair McKenzie, he chose the competition and he designed the short track Augusta National. Fields wanted to prepare his teammates for the biggest stages. Scheffler won the same competition when he was a student. Fields Masters saw on his phone what was waiting at his gate. At this point he is almost part of the Scheffler family. Five years ago, Scheffler played at the US Open in Erin Hills. He walked on the fairway next to Brooks Copca, followed by his coach and father. Scheffler’s father returned to Fields.
“Do you think he will come here one day?” He asked.
It’s funny now, but Sheffler’s dad doesn’t really know. Fields did. He had already seen the real thing – for example he coached Speed - and he explained to his friend that the young man in front of them was not only going to do the tour, but was going to make a career out of it.
That prophecy has been fulfilled in the last 57 days.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Scheffler won his first tour event at the WM Phoenix Open. On his return to the club, Moen bought a round of drinks for the 19th hole crowd and raised a glass for Scheffler and the club. Everyone roared. These are his people. Scheffler continued to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC-Dell Technologies match play. He raised the world golf rankings to No. 1. Between successes at Royal Oaks, he still worked in the range with the kids, chipping and creating games, often going up to an hour. Before leaving home to come to Georgia, he played a round with three members. He then packed for the masters. He could not believe it. When his first invitation came in the mail, he burst into tears. For the past 57 days, he has been living in a dream scene as a teenager.
“I don’t think anything is sinking right now,” he said. “My head is still spinning.”
He came to Augusta under the radar, even in all his conquests. All eyes were on Tiger Woods, who returned to play competitive golf after 14 months. Scheffler was not even one year old when Woods won here for the first time.
“His YouTube clips inspired me a lot,” Scheffler said. “I remember seeing the highlights of his win in ’97, he ran with it, and he didn’t really break his concentration.”
Now the Scheffler Tiger brand wears golf shoes and shirts and uses his irons, however he may soon get his own lineup of three. He surpassed the Legend on Thursday. On Friday, Scheffler took the lead as Tiger’s surgically repaired knee began to fail him. He had it on Saturday and after his long night and full, tearful morning, he went out to defend it on Sunday afternoon.
His tough match came from Rory McIlroy, who equaled the Masters record of 64 in the final round. Rory had the biggest roar of the afternoon. Truth be told, the atmosphere on Sunday was calm. When Scheffler then went home through nine, there were openings in five and six deep ropes for these coronation parades. Some gave McIlroy a shot at the Career Grand Slam believing there would be some sort of downfall.
Scheffler did not fold.
At Royal Oaks, the 19th hole became the standing room. Scheffler was the biggest shot number of his career. When chipped in at 3, the clubhouse exploded. A man gave high fives and ran around the room. In the hole, in tense moments the room tilted, legs dug into the red and yellow carpets. Guys drank from white styrofoam cups.
When he succeeded in making 14 birds, the grown men hugged and rubbed each other like school children. They knew Sheffler as a kid, and now he’s going to win the same competition as Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicholas and Tiger Woods. A slogan exploded in the room, calling for scenes.
“Fireball! Fireball! Fireball!”