The National Times - Top-ranked Scheffler seizes control at Masters

Top-ranked Scheffler seizes control at Masters

Top-ranked Scheffler seizes control at Masters
Top-ranked Scheffler seizes control at Masters

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler picked a great time to overcome his inability to take control early in a tournament.

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The 25-year-old American fired a one-under par 71 on Saturday to seize a three-stroke lead at Augusta National as he tries to claim his first major title and fouth victory in his past six starts at the 86th Masters.

"One of the things I always struggled with was putting myself in this position enough," Scheffler said. "I've always just kept trying to put myself up there.

"I never really focused hard enough on Thursday and Friday and I was always behind the eight-ball going into Sunday. So for me, being in this position, it's nice to be in control of the golf tournament.

"All I'm trying to do out there is be committed to my shots and execute, and after that it's not really up to me."

There really aren't very many others likely to have a say in matters.

The best final-round Masters comeback to win was by Jack Burke in 1955 when he rallied from eight strokes down in the last round.

There are only four rivals closer than eight strokes of Scheffler entering the final round.

"The way Scottie is playing, there's not much to do, pretty much for anyone," 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia said. "If he plays anywhere close to the way he has been playing all year, he should win it. It's as simple as that.

"It's never easy because he's going for his first major, it's Augusta, and everything that brings with, but he's playing very well."

Scheffler won his first US PGA title at February's Phoenix Open, took his second last month at Bay Hill and won the WGC Match Play Championship two weeks ago to overtake Spain's Jon Rahm atop the rankings.

"We all wish we had that two-, three-month window when we get hot and hopefully majors fall somewhere along in that window," 15-time major winner Tiger Woods said. "Scottie seems to be in that window right now."

Scheffler could become the first PGA player to win four times in six starts since Australian Jason Day in 2015.

"When I'm in the lead, I'm trying to stay in the lead and not really overthink things, just go out there and play golf," Scheffler said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of tomorrow and just doing my thing."

Only four players have won the Masters while atop the rankings -- Welshman Ian Woosnam and Americans Woods, Dustin Johnson and Fred Couples.

- 'It seems effortless' -

American Justin Thomas, sitting eight adrift, says Scheffler has a maturity that belies his years.

"It's very impressive. The golf he has played the last couple months, it's nuts. It seems effortless," Thomas said. "He gets it around so well and he's so mature in his golf age, if that makes sense.

"He just seems like he's been out here for a long time."

Rahm noted how Scheffler's unusual swing style, with a sliding right foot, is similar to that of Australian star Greg Norman.

"Clearly it helps him deliver the club face the way he needs to," Rahm said. "It does look a little odd. It does look like he's sliding, but the left foot is planted, and his body moves through the way it's supposed to move through. So, it works.

"It can't be a coincidence that two great ball strikers, Greg Norman and himself, have that in common."