Scottie Scheffler gets Masters' green jacket while Tiger Woods finishes 47th
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
There's a new Masters champion. And if you've been following professional golf lately, the winner might not come as a surprise. Twenty-five-year-old Scottie Scheffler won his first-ever green jacket and first major championship after a dominating weekend at the famed golf course in Augusta, Ga. NPR's Tom Goldman was following the Masters. Tom, Tiger Woods finished far from the top. We'll get to him in just a second. But first, what the heck has happened to Scottie Scheffler the last couple of months?
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: He has learned how to win, and he can't seem to stop. Since February and his first-ever PGA Tour victory, Scheffler has won four tournaments, including the Masters. He's ranked No. 1 in the world, and he's running a hot streak that only a few male golfers have experienced. He's just the fourth player in the last 50 years with four tour wins in a season before the end of April. And that group includes Hall of Famers Tom Watson and Johnny Miller.
MARTINEZ: So did this streak, this hot streak, come out of nowhere?
GOLDMAN: You know, it's surprising, but there were signs. Last year, Scheffler finished in the top 10 in golf's three majors other than the Masters - the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
MARTINEZ: Considering how hot he has been this year, I take it that Scheffler took his nearly wire-to-wire win at Augusta in stride maybe.
GOLDMAN: He sure looked calm. He was smiling. He seemed very comfortable once he took the lead on day two and never gave it back. His golf is so good right now, especially his chipping and putting, and that saved him the few times he was in trouble. One hiccup that really was quite hilarious came on the last green yesterday. He had a five-shot lead standing over a short putt to win. He missed not once but twice, put his hand over his mouth on the second short miss. But with the fans cheering him on, he sank the next one and won the tournament. You know, he was in control 99% of the time. But interestingly, after his win, he said yesterday morning before teeing off, he was so stressed out, he cried like a baby and told his wife he didn't think he was ready for the pressure cooker of the final round. Now, when we all saw him, he sure hid those nerves well. But he said once he started playing, he was at peace.
MARTINEZ: Well, it's good to know that Scheffler is human, even once in a while. All right. Let's get to Tiger - first major tournament since that really terrible car accident last year that almost actually cost him his right leg. How did he look?
GOLDMAN: Great on day one; made the cut on day two, which was quite an accomplishment. But over the weekend, he wilted. His scores of 78 on both Saturday and Sunday were his worst scores in his illustrious career at Augusta, where he's won five times. And by the time he finished yesterday, his limp was very pronounced. But considering what he's come back from, even he said just completing four rounds was a victory on the difficult hilly Augusta course. And that's quite an admission from an athlete who has always said winning a golf tournament is his only measure of success. In fact, he seemed to embrace a new role for himself as someone who persevered through these last 14 months since his accident. Here's what he said after Saturday's third round.
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TIGER WOODS: Never give up. Always chase after your dreams. And I fight each and every day. Each and every day presents its own different challenges for all of us. And I wake up, and let's start the fight all over again.
MARTINEZ: Tom, at best, I am a casual golf fan, but when Tiger announced he was playing, I started to watch. Will he keep fighting? I mean, are we going to see Tiger Woods on the golf course again? Because I'll start to watch again.
GOLDMAN: (Laughter) At the big events. He said he's looking forward to the Open Championship at St Andrews in Scotland. That's in July. He's not sure about anything before that. He said he will try, but he has to see what his body's able to do. And that'll be Tiger Woods going forward.
MARTINEZ: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks a lot.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.