Anybody that was truly surprised Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1) won the 2022 Masters has either not been following the PGA Tour in the last two months or the tout job I’ve done on him going back to last November.
Let me reiterate what my friend, Andy Bankuti, whom I consider an excellent golf bettor, told me when I interviewed him back in November for a preview of what to expect when the meaningful PGA Tour events began in the new year. Andy was sky high about Scheffler’s chances.
“He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. He’s my dark horse. I think he’s going to perform really well. I think he’s going to go on a run. He’s the guy I’m going to ride. I think he’s going to be huge. I thought last season he was getting more aggressive. I think he’s going to be a top-10 guy on the PGA Tour – by far. If there was a bet to be in the top-five, I’d bet on that for sure. If there was a prop for who’s going to be on top, I might bet him for that.”
Well, Andy was bang on when he Scottie Too Hottie started winning, but it was pounded with a sledgehammer in the Masters.
And he has the winnings to prove it.
So do I.
I had him as my key player in a tournament in which you picked six players. I ended up tying for first place, but cashed nonetheless. I would have won outright if Scheffler hadn’t suffered a double bogey on the 18th, but he was so far ahead it didn’t matter. I was probably the only person on the planet who cared.
In the PG Golf pool, in which you are only allowed to pick one player twice for the entire season, I had used Scheffler once and he won. The pool is based on cumulative winnings by the players you pick in PGA Tour events.
I chose him for my second and final time in the Masters. With his win, I vaulted from 22nd going into the week to 7th. My boss, Gary Krueger, is on top. He had Scottie and Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X), who finished 27th in the field. I also used the Mullet Man, Cameron Smith (Titleist Pro V1x), who started Sunday’s final round three strokes back of Scheffler. After the first two holes, the lead was dwindled to one. Then Scheffler holed out with an unbelievable iron shot to birdie the third hole to open up some space between himself and Smith. I was feeling good about either of them winning. I just didn’t know whether it would be Scheffler or Smith. In horse racing, you can pick two horses to finish first or second. It’s called an exacta box and I thought for sure that would happen.
The reason I selected Scheffler for the Masters rather than hold out for another tournament is because not only are there cash prizes for the year-end results, but also premiums for the collective money won in the four majors.
Several months ago I interviewed last year’s PG Golf winner Patrick Davis, who told me one of the key strategical points he used was to hold off using the top players in the meat-and-potato tournaments and go hard on them in the big events and hope they do well. It also helps in the other non-descript tournaments if you get lucky with some players who aren’t expected to win.
For example, maybe one of these days Harry Higgs (Titleist Pro V1) wins a tournament. Everyone loves the Big Rig.
Last year I used the tour’s top-ranked players early and had the lead at the halfway point of the season. Then I faded like a thoroughbred who had the lead going into the stretch.
I hadn’t used Smith prior to the Masters.
I can use him at some point later in the season in the hopes he won’t be too crushed by what happened in the Masters when he started to collapse on the back nine. It began with a bogey on the 10th and a triple bogey on the dreaded 12th hole when his ball landed in the water. I can’t begin to count how many players have seen their chances dwindle by a drive into the drink. Smith had another bogey two holes later but showed his mettle with birdies on the next two holes. He finished tied for third with Shane Lowry (Srixon Z-Star XV) at five-under par.
He had helplessly fallen back by that time, while Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x), searching for his first Masters win to complete his personal grand slam of golf, started to go on a heater. He recorded a Masters’ final-round record going eight-under par. He holed out from a bunker on the 18th hole with a shot that will be replayed for the ages. Collin Morikawa (TaylorMade TP5) also duplicated it, but not with the same crazy ball movement.
McIlroy placed three shot behind Scheffler in second.
I truly hope Scheffler gets his due from those people who overlooked him in the Masters. Winning four of the last six tournaments he has played is a testament to his ability. The Masters hammered home that point.
Aside from a Nike logo on his hat and shirt, he does not have any other visible sponsors. Nor is he featured in any TV commercials similar to Bryson DeChambeau (Bridgestone Tour B) and Rickie Fowler (TaylorMade TP5). He is not nearly as flashy as them, nor some of the other big stars in the sport such as Jon Rahm (Callaway Soft X), Rory, Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x), Morikawa, Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1x) and Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS), to name a few.
I would expect sponsors to start jumping on the Scheffler bandwagon, if they already weren’t doing it. I don’t know if he can become as marketable as the others in terms of personality, but that is either an acquired skill or might not even matter at all. His performances on the course speak loudly.
As for Tiger, well, I wrote beforehand that if he made the cut it would be an accomplishment given that he hasn’t played in any meaningful tournament since his car accident in February, 2021. He was clearly laboring on his bad leg in the final round but made some quality shots. He finished 47th overall with a score of 13-over par, including a final round of six-over par.
The respect – maybe even reverence – shown by the galleries that followed him made this a collective moment of history. Remember, it was only three years ago he won the Masters in one of the many notable moments of his amazing career.
I thought that was a miracle.
I didn’t expect the miracle to be repeated. His first Masters’ win 25 years before was revisited by CBS, which benefitted by his participation. He did all he could, but time and injuries have caught up with the 46-year-old.
He has said he will play a limited schedule going forward. I can’t see it being more than eight to 10 tournaments at most, in particular sponsorship commitments. He needs only one more PGA Tour victory to set the all-time record of 83 – he is tied with Sam Snead – and I think that has to be a huge objective.
Tiger does not owe the game anything. Collectively we owe him a debt of gratitude for doing the impossible time and time again. We have witnessed one of the greatest athletes – not just golfers – of the last quarter century.
Fans must show a degree of decorum at the Masters, so unlike wrestling fans who pay homage to those retiring there is no chants of “you deserve it.”
He deserves it.
One other thing, is it any coincidence that Scheffler has taken his game to the next level having Ted Scott on the bag? Scott had been with Bubba Watson when he won the Masters in 2012 and 2014. We all marveled at how Watson developed into one of the best of his generation with shots he shaped like a magician. White also caddied for Paul Azinger, who was the top-ranked player in the world from 1988 to 1994.
On Sunday, Azinger did an interview in which he said, “It’s no coincidence Teddy is in this spot once again.”
Scott was considering doing golf instruction after he and Bubba split last fall. Then Scheffler called Scott and the rest is history.