March 31, 2023
Scheffler returns to world No. 1 after Players win

Scheffler returns to world No. 1 after Players win

American Scottie Scheffler won the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass by five strokes on Sunday to return to number one in the world rankings.

Scheffler clinched the US PGA Tour duel at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, after making five straight birdies between the 8th and 12th holes as his closest rival, Australia’s Min Woo Lee, imploded.

The defending Masters champion, who finished at 17-under 271, will replace Spaniard Jon Rahm at the top of the standings on Monday. Rahm withdrew from the event due to illness.

The 26-year-old from New Jersey won four tour events last year, including at Augusta, and now has two more this season, having won at Phoenix last month.

“I’m just trying to improve a little bit at a time, not overthink things and hopefully being able to see some good results and enjoy some wins and I’m very grateful,” he said.

The wind could have become a factor in a tighter battle, but by the time he got to the last few test holes, Scheffler was done.

“It was a lot of fun. Long day, hard day,” he said. “I knew the conditions were going to get really tough late on and I did a really good job of staying patient, not trying to force things, and then I just fired up in the middle of the round and tried to get things out as quickly as possible.” as I could.”

Scheffler started the day with a two-shot lead over Lee, who immediately cut the deficit with a birdie on the opening hole.

When Scheffler bogeyed the third, the pairing was tied for the lead, but it would soon turn dramatically when Lee had a nightmare on the par-4 fourth hole, where he triple bogeyed.

Lee found the rough on the tee and took his medicine, heading back to the fairway, but that cautious decision was followed by his approach shot ending up in the water.

A double bogey on the 11th, where he ran into trouble in the trees, saw Lee fall totally out of contention and by then Scheffler was on his pace and pulling away from the field.

“It happened very quickly,” said the Australian.

“It’s one of those things where it’s Sunday and you just make a couple of bad decisions and it all falls apart.

“To make a seven there, it was pretty heartbreaking after I started really well.”

After his birdie streak, which began when he birdied the par-3 eighth, it was a victory procession for Scheffler on the final holes.

He capped his victory in style with a superb 21-foot putt on the 18th.

– Excited for ‘ordeal’ –

Scheffler becomes the third player to hold the Masters and Players titles at the same time after Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, and he said bigger events improve his game.

“I think I get excited for a good hard test,” he said. “I feel like I can find a way to make pairs and hold. This week I think I had five bogeys all week. At this spot it’s really hard to do and that’s probably what I’m most proud of is just playing so solid.”

England’s Tyrrell Hatton finished second after a sensational close with five birdies in a row to complete the last nine in 29, the lowest back section score in a final round.

Hatton finished at 12-under par after his 65 with Norway’s Viktor Hovland and America’s Tom Hoge tied for third, two shots behind.

“It was a pretty crazy two and a half hours in the end, from the 10th hole,” said Hatton, who birdied seven of his last nine holes.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama shot a four-under 68 to finish fifth, nine-under for the week, with his good round undone by a double bogey at 14 where he ran into rough trouble.

Australia’s Cam Davis was third in the standings overnight, but had to settle for sharing sixth place after shooting 74.

World number three Rory McIlroy had missed the cut.


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