Scottie Scheffler’s flourishing finish makes for a Players Championship first

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A closing 64 meant he became the first player to successfully defend the title in the tournament’s 50-year history.
Posted on
March 17, 2024
The Editorial Team in ,
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Scottie Scheffler overturned a five-shot deficit to become the first player to successfully defend the Players Championship in the tournament’s 50-year history.

Scheffler carded an eagle and six birdies in a flawless closing 64 at Sawgrass to finish 20 under par, a shot ahead of US Open champion Wyndham Clark, Open champion Brian Harman and Xander Schauffele.

Clark birdied the 16th and 17th to keep his hopes alive but agonisingly lipped out for another birdie on the last to force a play-off.

Overnight leader Schauffele paid the price for dropped shots on the 14th and 15th and also missed from seven feet for birdie on the treacherous 17th.

“It’s pretty special,” Scheffler told CBS. “It’s something you don’t really get the opportunity to do very often.

“It’s tough enough to win one Players so to have it back-to-back is extremely special and I’m really thankful.

“I put up a good fight for four days, Teddy (Scott, his caddie) kept me in a good head space. We had a great finish yesterday, got off to a slow start today and then the hole-out on four kind of propelled us a little bit.

“I hit a lot of good shots today, did a lot of good things this week and it’s nice to come out on top.”

Asked how he had coped with the neck injury he suffered during Friday’s second round, Scheffler added: “I’m a pretty competitive guy and didn’t want to give up in the tournament.

“I did what I could to hang around until my neck got better and then today it felt really good.”

Scheffler, who also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots last week, kickstarted his challenge by holing out from 92 yards for an eagle on the fourth and also birdied the fifth, eighth and ninth to race to the turn in 31.

That gave the world number one his first share of the lead and although Schauffele moved back in front with birdies on the seventh and ninth, Scheffler birdied the 11th and then drove the green on the short par-four 12th to set up another.

Schauffele picked up a shot on the same hole to take the outright lead again, but Scheffler birdied the 16th to draw level before Schauffele crucially dropped shots on the 14th and 15th.

Wyndham Clark
Wyndham Clark reacts to missing a birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a play-off in The Players Championship (Marta Lavandier/AP)

Clark’s chance looked to have gone when he bogeyed the 14th to fall three behind, but the world number five – who also finished runner-up to Scheffler at Bay Hill – birdied the 16th and 17th before somehow missing out on his hat-trick on the last.

“I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in,” Clark said. “It was kind of right centre with like a foot to go, and I knew it was going to keep breaking, but it had speed and I thought it was going to go inside left, and even when it kind of lipped, I thought it would lip in. I’m pretty gutted it didn’t go in.

“I just played back-to-back weeks on two pretty challenging golf courses that I traditionally haven’t done very well on, and just went second and second. I’ll take those positives. I played awesome in both weeks.

“Maybe next week sometime I’ll really be able to look at those positives and feel good about it, but right now I’m pretty down.”

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick birdied the last four holes to finish fifth on 16 under after a closing 69, while Rory McIlroy had to settle for a share of 19th following a final round of 72.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy reacts on the second green during the final round of The Players Championship (Marta Lavandier/AP)

McIlroy made a tournament record 26 birdies during the week, but also recorded 11 bogeys and three double bogeys to finish nine under.

“I did the same thing at the back end of 2020 I remember, I was making a ton of birdies and making a ton of mistakes as well,” McIlroy said.

“It’s not all bad. It could be a lot worse, I guess. If these are the worst finishes that I’m going to have, I feel like that’s my floor and I haven’t quite got to the golf that I’ve wanted to play to get to my ceiling.

“Hopefully, over the next few weeks I can work at it and get closer to that level of golf.

Pos.PlayerTo ParR1R2R3R4Total
1Scottie Scheffler-2067696864268
T2Brian Harman-1972656468269
T2Xander Schauffele-1965696570269
T2Wyndham Clark-1965657069269
5Matt Fitzpatrick-1666696869272
T6Si Woo Kim-1570716864273
T6Hideki Matsuyama-1569696867273
8Ludvig Åberg-1467736767274
T9Sahith Theegala-1370676771275
T9Maverick McNealy-1367686872275
T11Joel Dahmen-1274676768276
T11Taylor Montgomery-1268706870276
T13Corey Conners-1168687368277
T13Christiaan Bezuidenhout-1169706870277
T13Nate Lashley-1168706772277
T16Sam Ryder-1070697069278
T16Sepp Straka-1068707070278
T16Doug Ghim-1071706671278
T19Harris English-969697566279
T19Shane Lowry-971707266279
T19Dylan Wu-969746967279
T19Kurt Kitayama-970717167279
T19Alex Noren-971707068279
T19Adam Schenk-971716671279
T19Rory McIlroy-965736972279
T26Mackenzie Hughes-870736968280
T26Chris Kirk-868707369280
T26Nick Taylor-866687670280
T26Matti Schmid-868687272280
T26Matt NeSmith-873676872280
T31Ben Martin-772717167281
T31Mark Hubbard-768737268281
T31Sungjae Im-770726970281
T31Taylor Moore-772687071281
T35Denny McCarthy-671717169282
T35Jimmy Stanger-669737169282
T35Lee Hodges-669707271282
T35Tommy Fleetwood-670726971282
T35Aaron Rai-671726871282
T35Jason Day-667717272282
T35Brice Garnett-671726772282
T42Grayson Murray-573697764283
T42David Lipsky-573706971283
T42C.T. Pan-569687076283
T45Adam Scott-470727171284
T45Ryan Moore-470697372284
T45Jake Knapp-471726873284
T45Collin Morikawa-471697074284
T45Tony Finau-469726974284
T45Austin Eckroat-471696876284
T45Sam Burns-473706576284
T45J.T. Poston-469686978284
53Andrew Putnam-369747270285
T54Min Woo Lee-273707370286
T54Francesco Molinari-272697372286
T54Martin Laird-270737073286
T54Zac Blair-273707073286
T54Cameron Young-270697374286
T54Sami Valimaki-271726974286
T54Tom Hoge-267697575286
T54Emiliano Grillo-269716977286
T62Thomas Detry-171727470287
T62Viktor Hovland-173697174287
T64Seamus PowerPar72697869288
T64Max HomaPar68757471288
T64Tyler DuncanPar67757274288
T64J.J. SpaunPar72717075288
T68Rickie Fowler+274697671290
T68Patrick Cantlay+272707375290
T68Chan Kim+270717079290
T68Peter Malnati+270736681290
72Gary Woodland+370737474291
73Keith Mitchell+469717676292
CUTStephan JaegerPar7272--144
CUTLuke ListPar6975--144
CUTAkshay BhatiaPar7272--144
CUTBen GriffinPar7371--144
CUTDavid SkinnsPar7173--144
CUTLucas GloverPar7569--144
CUTWebb SimpsonPar7371--144
CUTRyo HisatsunePar7074--144
CUTPatrick Rodgers+17273--145
CUTHayden Buckley+17174--145
CUTBeau Hossler+17174--145
CUTJustin Thomas+17174--145
CUTS.H. Kim+17471--145
CUTBrandon Wu+17570--145
CUTErik van Rooyen+17174--145
CUTBilly Horschel+17174--145
CUTRyan Fox+16976--145
CUTJustin Suh+17669--145
CUTTyson Alexander+17174--145
CUTNico Echavarria+27373--146
CUTDavis Thompson+27571--146
CUTEric Cole+27274--146
CUTTroy Merritt+27373--146
CUTChesson Hadley+27571--146
CUTCarson Young+27175--146
CUTMatt Kuchar+27472--146
CUTJordan Spieth+27472--146
CUTRussell Henley+27373--146
CUTSteve Stricker+27274--146
CUTGreyson Sigg+27571--146
CUTJustin Lower+27175--146
CUTBen Silverman+27274--146
CUTKevin Yu+37473--147
CUTAlex Smalley+37077--147
CUTMatthieu Pavon+37077--147
CUTNick Dunlap+37770--147
CUTMatt Wallace+37374--147
CUTAdam Svensson+37473--147
CUTChez Reavie+37473--147
CUTJustin Rose+37077--147
CUTDavis Riley+47474--148
CUTWill Zalatoris+47375--148
CUTAndrew Novak+47474--148
CUTMichael Kim+46880--148
CUTJoseph Bramlett+47771--148
CUTAdam Hadwin+47573--148
CUTByeong Hun An+56980--149
CUTNicolai Højgaard+57376--149
CUTCharley Hoffman+57574--149
CUTSam Stevens+57376--149
CUTChad Ramey+57376--149
CUTAaron Baddeley+67476--150
CUTTaylor Pendrith+67575--150
CUTCarl Yuan+67476--150
CUTBen Taylor+67377--150
CUTVincent Norrman+67773--150
CUTScott Stallings+67476--150
CUTBrendon Todd+67476--150
CUTKeegan Bradley+67278--150
CUTRobert MacIntyre+67476--150
CUTNick Hardy+77477--151
CUTHarry Hall+77774--151
CUTK.H. Lee+77576--151
CUTKevin Streelman+87775--152
CUTRobby Shelton+88072--152
CUTCallum Tarren+97578--153
CUTBen Kohles+98073--153
CUTCamilo Villegas+117382--155
CUTCam Davis+177982--161
W/DGarrick Higgo-73---73
W/DTom Kim------
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