Masters 2022: Scottie Scheffler takes command with a record-tying five-shot lead
Scottie Scheffler walks off the 13th green during the second round of the Masters.
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Well, that should expunge any lingering doubts.
We are only 36 holes into the 86th Masters, but Scottie Scheffler established his bona fides as the No. 1 player in the world on Friday with an exhibition of power and patience we should expect from the game’s top-ranked golfer. The Texan who appears to have a two-step in his swing certainly had a bounce in his step as he navigated windswept Augusta National Golf Club in five-under 67.
The nearly invulnerable effort, tied for low round of the day with Justin Thomas, enabled Scheffler to build a five-stroke lead at eight-under 136—matching the largest two-round lead in Masters history. Five times previously a player has led by five after 36 holes, most recently Jordan Spieth in 2015. Four of the five went on to win, the exception coming in 1936 when “Lighthorse” Harry Cooper fell to second behind Horton Smith.
Scheffler is running like a thoroughbred of late, winning three of his last five starts, including the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play two weeks ago that propelled him to World No. 1 in lightning speed. He is trying to become the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2006 to claim a green jacket after winning his previous start (though Mickelson did it in consecutive weeks).
He left little doubt that he is playing some dominating golf.
“I feel like my game is in a good spot,” said Scheffler, an assertion impossible to refute. "I’ve done a good job managing my way around the golf course the last two days. Like I said, I've prepared as much as I could. I worked really hard this off-season and I have put myself in a position now to win this golf tournament, and I couldn't ask for anything more after 36 holes.”
Scottie Scheffler hits out of a bunker in the second round of the Masters.
Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama and 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel joined Shane Lowry and first-round leader Sungjae Im in a tie for second at 141, while four more players are six back, including 2020 champion Dustin Johnson.
Scheffler began with bogeys on two of his first three holes, but he played his final 12 holes in six under par to pull away from the field. Not that he needed it, but as he began to build a lead, his confidence grew. “Once I saw that I took the lead at one point today," he said, "my first thought was to just keep trying to build it just because I feel like I'm playing well.”
The tough conditions, with winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour, left Scheffler definitely feeling “like I was in a fight.” Maybe so. But he came out of the battle with hardly a scratch on him. He’ll begin his third round in the final pairing with Schwartzel at 2:50 p.m. ET with a commanding head start and a head full of positive thoughts.
“It's nice to build up a little bit of a lead, but I'm not really going to be thinking about it tonight or anything,” he said. “I've put myself in position to play well and to win this golf tournament, and going into tomorrow, I'm just going to approach it like I did today and just be committed to my shots and hope for the best.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I'm doing.”
That would be highly recommended.
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