An Illuminating Shot From Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler's skill is on full display at Augusta National during the 2024 Masters


In professional golf, players define themselves on the margins. Everyone has elite talent, but the best stand out via their approach and execution.

During the second round of the 2024 Masters, Sahith Theegala and Scottie Scheffler both found the last fairway bunker down the left side of No. 3. The short par 4 played into the wind on Friday, making what is typically a drive-and-pitch hole much more challenging. The aforementioned bunkers were no longer an easy carry for the long hitters, hence Scheffler and Theegala both finding themselves on the beach.

Like most of the bunkers at Augusta National, the final one of the fairway complex on No. 3 is rather deep and difficult to escape from. Players have to hit a very high shot just to clear the lip, and from there they have to control their spin, a task that is made all that more difficult when the wind is into their face.

Both players were left with somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 yards to the front-right hole location. Theegala took a lash at his, carrying it well past the pin before sucking it back off the green and down into the gully. He then hit three chip shots that came back to his feet before ultimately walking off with a triple-bogey seven. Scheffler, on the other hand, took a softer approach to the shot. On the stream, you could hear him tell Ted Scott that they’re playing about a 105-yard shot, a distance that would allow him to take a lower-lofted club while controlling his speed and spin more easily. His ball landed barely long of pin high before coming back just a few feet. He two-putted for an easy par.

Now, there could be extenuating circumstances about Theegala’s shot that we cannot discern from the camera. Maybe he had to hit the ball higher to get over the lip, necessitating more loft and a risk of too much spin. But from my couch, it doesn’t look all that different. To me, this is a simple case of Scottie thinking through and executing an extremely difficult shot that even fellow professionals struggle with.

As Joseph LaMagna wrote before the Masters, Scheffler’s run of form is about both his approach and his execution. On that Friday bunker shot, he and Ted Scott picked a yardage and club that best fit the shot in front of them. They didn’t try to force a club that could theoretically lead to a birdie. They accepted par and avoided the big number. It’s just the latest example of the difference between Scottie Scheffler and the rest of professional golf.

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