2024 Masters takeaways: Scottie Scheffler's patient approach puts him 54 holes from second green jacket



AUGUSTA, Ga. — At one point in his life, Scottie Scheffler allegedly struggled with golf. He was 15 years old, had hit a growth spurt and his coach then and now, Randy Smith, chose not to change a thing. In fact, he used to tell him that he didn’t care whether Scheffler was the best player in the world at that young age because he wanted him to be the best player in the world when he was 25.

That prognostication turned out to be … exactly correct. Scheffler became the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Rankings in March 2022 at the age of 25.

More importantly, it taught Scheffler to practice patience and approach life with a long-term view. These character qualities make for a more peaceful existence, but they also play perfectly when it comes to major championship golf.

Scheffler shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday to open the 2024 Masters. It was his 14th round of 66 or better on the year (out of 32 total rounds) and his first bogey-free outing at Augusta National, where he was the 2022 champion. It came in gusty, difficult conditions that he said led to multiple guesses on what the wind was doing and what shots to hit in certain moments.

Watch the final three rounds of the 2024 Masters continuing Friday with Masters Live as we follow the best golfers in the world through Augusta National with Featured Groups, check in at the famed Amen Corner and see leaders round the turn on holes 15 & 16. Watch live on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports app and Paramount+.

At the end of a suspended Round 1, Scheffler trailed only Bryson DeChambeau, who shot a 65 in easier conditions earlier in the day. Scheffler’s score was arguably the best round of the day given how difficult the golf course was playing during his second nine, when DeChambeau was finishing up.

The 66 did not come without a measure of luck. Scheffler hit a ball on the 13th hole that stayed on the bank when it looked like it should not have.

“I felt extremely fortunate that the ball stayed dry,” he said. “Right at the top of my swing, I heard somebody else make contact with the ball, and [it] kind of tricked me a little bit, and I lost out to the right. That stuff happens in the game of golf. Things happen. You’ve got to be more focused than that.”

Scheffler also performed at his normally elite ball-striking level, carding just one 5 on the day and cleaning up all of his misses. 

“Scottie does such a good job of … it doesn’t look like it’s 6-under par, and then at the end of the day, it’s 6-under par,” said playing partner Rory McIlroy. “He’s just so efficient with everything.

“If you look at Scottie compared to the rest of the field, the amount of bogey-free rounds he plays and he shoots is phenomenal, and that’s the secret to winning major championships and winning big-time golf tournaments is more limiting the mistakes rather than making a ton of birdies.”

After his round, Scheffler said his patience and acceptance have improved over the years. Some of that surely dates back to his time as a 15-year-old when Smith was preaching the long game and Scheffler, who has said repeatedly that he wore long pants as a kid because he wanted to play on the tour, was learning what it means to be a pro.

“I think it’s definitely gotten better over time,” he said. “Certainly, as I’ve matured as a person as well. … I typically expect a lot out of myself. And so, when things aren’t going the way that they are supposed to be, especially when I was younger, I would get pretty frustrated. And I try to manage myself a lot better than I did back then, and I’m seeing some good results of that.

“But days like today, it’s very easy to say, ‘Hey, stay patient, don’t make too many mistakes out there.’ … But all it comes down is hitting good shots and manage your way around the golf course, and it’s a lot easier said than done for sure.”

At this point in his life, Scheffler does not seem to struggle as much with golf. His scoring and winning reflect that. That certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy, but he is able to stay present in the moment and not thinking about winning the tournament on a Thursday.

With Scheffler learning that patience and discipline pay off over time, it has clearly become a lot less difficult to trust the long view that his coach instilled in him, whether the length of that view is a 10-year path to No. 1 in the world or 54 more holes to green jacket No. 2.

Rick Gehman, Greg DuCharme and Patrick McDonald recap Round 1 of the Masters from Augusta National. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Most impressive Round 1

That honor goes to Danny Willett, who after a seven-month absence from tournament golf, played his first round since shoulder surgery toward the end of 2023 and shot a 4-under 68 to get inside the top five. That’s a great number for anyone in the field but an astonishing result for the 2016 champion. He said it was not until last Sunday that he officially decided to play.

“I feel all right. I think I might take the next six months off,” he joked after his round. “No, it’s completely unexpected. Sometimes that happens, whatever. You make a couple of birdies and your mind starts thinking, ‘All right, I can do it.’ It was nice to keep chilled out.”

Gritty Tiger

Tiger Woods is 1 under through 13 holes and playing better than expected, especially on a day with insane winds at time and not even two rounds of competitive golf under his belt in 2024. Being under par and inside the top 20 after the first day is wild. He hit some fantastic shots, got up and down from way behind the 12th green and hit this filthy shot on the par-4 11th to save par.

Woods called it “one of the most tricky days that I’ve ever been a part of,” but he’s in a great position to make his 24th consecutive cut, which would set an all time record at the Masters. His body may or may not hold up in more windy conditions on Friday, but he’s in an unexpectedly good position after 13 holes of play on Thursday.

Jon Rahm’s 73

Last year’s champion is T42 after a hot start and a bad finish. He’s seemed slightly out of sorts throughout the week, and that continued with a 39 on the second nine.

“It’s a difficult golf course,” he said. “That’s all I can say. It’s not easy. You’re not really having the luxury out there of being able to miss shots, especially tee shots. Unfortunately, on that back nine, I missed a few too many shots. Never really in a good position to give myself the best chance for birdies and ended up with what could have been a little bit better of a score. It’s just too bad. Bad swings are bad swings, but I think 4 and 17 could have been avoided. Those two three-putts could have been avoided.”

Bryson is back!

It’s wonderful to have Bryson back in the mix. He’s such a wonderful amalgamation of lunacy and talent and a dream to cover. He got steep on Dude Perfect and Jynxzi after his round and said he has people coming up to him — middle-aged men, even — shouting things like, “Thanks for the content! Appreciate what you do online!” Shouting these things, apparently.

He was incredible on the course with eight birdies and said after the round that he’s in the “the golf phase” of his career after the mad scientist and bulked up eras. “I’d say the golf phase, for sure. Trying to be the best golfer I can be.”

I say this unironically, but DeChambeau winning a green jacket on Sunday would be extraordinary for golf and a hilarious and amazing outcome to the first major of the year.





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