The Players Championship: Scottie Scheffler’s 88-year-old grandma walks every hole of his dominant victory
Scheffler’s grandmother, Mary, could not have chosen a better week to follow her grandson around all 72 holes of a tournament.
A dominant victory sealed a dream Sunday for Scheffler at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, reclaiming his World No. 1 spot from Jon Rahm and securing him a $4.5 million cut of a record $25 million prize purse.
The 26-year-old American finished five strokes ahead of England’s Tyrrell Hatton, the largest margin of victory at the event dubbed “the fifth major” since Stephen Ames cruised to a six shot win in 2006.
It marks a sixth PGA Tour victory in a remarkable 13 month stretch for the reigning Masters champion, one made even sweeter by having many of his family watching on from the sidelines. And a number were gathered at the final green to embrace the new champion; wife Meredith, Mother, Father, and, of course, Grandmother.
The 88-year-old had made the 20-minute trip from her home in Florida to follow the progress of her grandson, with social media footage showing her walking between holes.
“It’s pretty impressive she’s walking so many holes out here, she’s a trooper,” Scheffler told reporters.
“I really don’t know what to say. She’s had a rough last year with Grandpa passing away, and we have an uncle that’s pretty sick, and I’m just happy that we’re able to kind of enjoy all this together.”
Though her duties weren’t done for the day, according to Scheffler when asked how he would be celebrating.
“Maybe Grandma’s got some food at home,” he added.
“I know she has some dessert. We’ll see what’s in store.”
Scheffler didn’t do his grandmother any favors with the furious pace he set around TPC Sawgrass across the week.
After starting Sunday’s final round with a two stroke lead over Australia’s Min Woo Lee, the American tore away from the field with a run of five straight birdies from the eighth hole. A bogey at the 14th provided a scare, but Scheffler eased home with four straight birdies to shoot three-under 69 for the round, and 17-under overall.
Even a historic finish from Hatton wasn’t enough to get close to Scheffler’s score. The 31-year-old, chasing his second PGA Tour victory after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2020, shot a blistering seven birdies across the back nine – including the final five holes – to card a seven-under 65.
In doing so the Englishman tied the tournament record for a low back-nine score, 29, at TPC Sawgrass, according to the PGA Tour. Having begun the day in 26th place, his late flourish secured him $2.725 million in runner-up prize money, with Viktor Hovland and Tom Hoge finishing two shots behind.
Scheffler also made history. After his maiden major triumph at Augusta last year, he becomes just the third player to hold both The Masters and The Players Championship titles simultaneously after Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
With 33 majors and five Players Championships between them, the pair make for illustrious company.
“Quite a special group of people. We could add all our majors and Players together and I have two now and they have a lot more than that,” said Scheffler, laughing.
“Any time you can get mentioned in the same breath as Tiger and Jack it’s very special. I’m very grateful for that.”
The victory continues Scheffler’s excellent start to 2023, and his second win after he defended his title at the WM Phoenix Open in February.
That triumph had seen Scheffler reclaim world No. 1 spot from Rory McIlroy, only for Rahm to leapfrog the American a week later with victory – already his third of the year – at the Genesis Invitational.
Yet the Spaniard’s hopes of a fourth were dashed early on at TPC Sawgrass, as he withdrew following Thursday’s first round citing illness having opened with a one-under 71.
Meanwhile, McIlroy endured an uncharacteristically torrid weekend, shooting 76 and 73 en route to missing the cut at a PGA Tour event for the first time since FedEx St. Jude Championship in August 2022.
For the new world No. 1, attention now turns to whether he can defend his green jacket at Augusta next month.
“I’m just comfortable with where my game is,” Scheffler said.
“I feel like I’m improving. I’m definitely learning more and the more you can get into contention and be in the moments. I would say that’s probably the most valuable thing is knowing what you feel like and being able to prepare for it.
“Going into the Masters, it’s going to be a fun week. Champions Dinner, there’s going to be a lot of fun stuff that I get to do that week, but by the time we tee it up Thursday everybody starts at even par so it probably doesn’t have much of an effect.”