Great Scottie! Scheffler cruises to win The Players Championship

Final-round 69 delivers his 1st Players victory

Scottie Scheffler celebrates after making his putt to win on the 18th green during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 12, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) (Mike Ehrmann, 2023 Getty Images)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The pressure didn’t get to Scottie Scheffler.

Not the infamous island green. Not the charging list of contenders. Not the list of notable final round collapses at TPC Sawgrass. Under the glare of one of the toughest stages in golf, Scheffler didn’t flinch as he roared past the best field in golf and made it look easy.

Scheffler mastered the tricky Stadium Course with a superb final round to win The Players Championship by five strokes at 17 under on Sunday afternoon. Scheffler had four rounds in the 60s — 68, 69, 65 and a Sunday 69. Tyrrell Hatton was 12 under and finished second.

Scheffler made it look easy. Five straight birdies over the end of the front nine and start of the back erased any hint of drama that usually dots the final round at TPC Sawgrass. Scheffler, whose 88-year-old grandmother, Mary, followed him for all 72 holes with the aid of a walker, pocketed $4.5 million for the win.

Numerous golfers gave chase during a run of big Sunday surges, but none could make the move to overtake him. The challenges popped up here and there, but there was never a serious one. Scheffler was too strong, stretching his lead to as many as six with a birdie barrage that left the field in his wake.

While the Stadium Course left room for golfers to catch Scheffler, it took those chances away, too.

Hideki Matsuyama and Max Homa gave chase on Sunday, but each faltered in crunch time. Tyrrell Hatton shot up the leaderboard with a blistering, record-tying finish on the back nine, but ran out of holes to birdie. By the time Hatton polished off his sizzling back nine with a fifth consecutive birdie, he went into the clubhouse three back of Scheffler at 12 under.

A three-shot lead on Sunday pin positions at the Stadium Course is hardly a lock. There have been too many implosions to count at TPC Sawgrass. Leader Alex Cejka’s five-stroke collapse in 2009 is memorable for the wrong reasons.

JB Holmes went from the top of the leaderboard in 2017 to the middle of the pack after a Sunday 12-over 84. No. 17 alone has claimed its share of hope, with Len Mattiace (1998) and Sergio Garcia’s (2013) as headliners for broken hearts there.

Scheffler knew what the board said, but that didn’t change his approach.

Starting the day with a two-shot lead, Scheffler briefly fell into a tie after a bogey and a birdie by playing partner Min Woo Lee. He was exceptional after that, staying aggressive and chasing birdies.

Scheffler, who was in a featured group with Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy to start the tournament, was the only one of that threesome to make it to the weekend. Rahm withdrew due to illness before his second round. McIlroy was 5 over and missed the cut.

Matsuyama’s early hot streak positioned him ideally to push Scheffler.

Bogey-free and surging with seven birdies in the final round, Matsuyama’s day took a turn on No. 14. He went way right on his approach, duffed his chip shot out of the deep rough and finally got it on the green for a two-putt and a double bogey. That took him from a shot back of Scheffler to three behind.

Homa was within striking distance at three back until his tee shot on 17 went into the water and had to settle for a double bogey.

Hatton’s final round was blistering. He carded seven birdies on his last nine holes, tying the course record of 29. Hatton finished on a streak of five birdies, including a laser putt into the center of the cup from 10 feet on No. 18.

Lee, Scheffler’s playing partner, was pushing for the lead before disastrous triple bogey on No. 4 took him out of contention.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.