AUGUSTA, GA – Scottie Scheffler was cruising. He wasn’t as advanced at seven as he was when he started his Saturday Masters, but he still had a four-shot advantage when he made it to the eighteenth tee. All that stood between him and a short iron approach on Mount Augusta National, nearest Bar 4 was a tee through a pine trail.
Scheffler, the image of calm all day long, finally cracked. His ball dropped his driver and he got stuck in a tree problem. Total load distance: 222. The Scheffler ball disappeared into the pine trees and landed in a snarl of bushes and branches below.
“I didn’t hear any loud,” Scheffler said after his tour. “dummy [Scott, his caddie] He was like, “I saw him cut a branch.” We’re like, “No big deal, just be there on the left and get on with it, whatever.” Then we saw the guy with the flag who always panicked about the balls. I was like, oh crap, I wonder what’s going on here.”
Nothing good. The search for titlelist Scheffler was ongoing. If he did not turn up in the three minutes allowed by the rules, Schaeffler had to return to the tee and play the third. Before him, Cameron Smith had already signed for a four under 68 which took him to a six under championship. Returning to the tee would have resulted in a double 6 bogey for Scheffler, which would have cut 54 holes into just two.
Later, Schaeffler was asked about his heart rate during the research. He said, “I went up when I saw they couldn’t find the ball, you hate losing a golf ball with all these people. It would be an unfortunate break.”
The good news: the ball is up. The bad news: He was in a prison of branches yards from the pine needle bed flanking this part of the trail. “I think I could have gone in there and played it if I had to,” Scheffler said.
he is he did not do He was not wise to try. The lie was somewhere south of evil.
The Scheffler ball was close enough to the needle bed next to the waterway to take a drop there. With a green-painted bases official at his side and Scott consulting him, Scheffler declared the ball unplayable, allowing him to fall within two lengths of the ball, not near the hole. The resulting stain gave him a clean lie and a clean look at the green.
For the grammar buffs out there, things get really interesting.
Scheffler asked the administrator if he could move the pine needles—loose hindrances—into the intended area of the drop. The official mistakenly said he couldn’t. Moving the leaves would be fine, the official said, but not with needles.
After Scott’s protest, the misunderstanding was cleared up, and Scheffler began to pick needles neatly. It was an unusual sight, watching a player clear loose obstacles before falling, but also legal. Under Rule 15.1/a3, “when the ball is dropped or placed, the ball is not returned to a designated place, and therefore loose obstructions are permitted to be cleared before the ball is dropped or placed.”
Scheffler needed to be careful not to dislodge any of the ground under the needles, but other than that he was free to do as much of the needle as he wanted.
After that, Scheffler pulled out a T-shirt and began to test the surface veiled under the needles, as if beating a half-baked cake to test its doneness. If it had any underlying roots, Scheffler wouldn’t have wanted to fall on or near it.
Given the weight of the moment, Scheffler could have been excused for showing signs of anxiety or frustration. he did not do.
“I think that’s definitely something I’ve learned over time,” Scheffler later said of his calm mind. “I’ve matured a lot since I played junior golf and golf in college, and I feel like I’m learning a lot here. … I was a bit reckless in high school and college, so to be able to be patient and realize what mistakes are going to happen, winning golf tournaments here is not easy. It’s very difficult. So, knowing that bad things are going to happen and being able to respond to those things in a positive way is very important.”
When Schaeffler spotted a drop, he dropped his ball from knee level but it kicked into an area that was closer to the hole. His second attempt to drop did the same, which meant Scheffler was free to put the ball down.
With Titleist finally back in play, Schaeffler left 225 yards in the green. With 3 irons in his hand, he was back at the hottest golfer in the world and fired a shot to the left side of the green, his ball running off the back left pin and coming straight out of the back of the green. It has its ups and downs, but these days Scheffler is used to making tough looks easy. After two pitches, he had made an adventurous ghost that brought him home at one o’clock under the day and nine under the week. The Schaeffler was your 54-hole leader with three.
“It’s good to be in control of the golf tournament,” he said afterwards.
He was also in control of the rules.