Scottie Scheffler is tops, in more ways than one.
The 26-year-old Scheffler regained the No. 1 position in the World Golf Rankings by shooting 3-under-par 69 in the final round to beat Tyrrell Hatton of England by five strokes in the 49th edition of The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
Scheffler joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers in history to hold the Masters and Players titles at the same time.
“It was a long day, a tough day out there, but it was a lot of fun,” said Scheffler, who has claimed his six PGA Tour titles in a little more than the last year. “I slept really well because yesterday was such a long day, but I felt good and then I got hot toward the middle of the round. I did a good job staying patient and kept going to put this win away.
“This is a difficult golf course and I knew it would get tough toward the end of the day because the finishing holes can be very hard. But I just tried not to overthink things and keep on going, and was able to finish it off.
“It was great to win with my whole family out here. We’re going to celebrate tonight.”
Scheffler, who repeated as champion of the WM Phoenix Open earlier this season, made five straight birdies through No. 13 to retain command after leading through three rounds, and made only two bogeys on the day to finish with a 72-hole score of 17-under 271.
Hatton, who has won 10 times around the world, played early in the day and put some pressure on Scheffler by collecting seven of his eight birdies on the back nine and making a lone bogey at No. 9 in a 65 that was the best score of the final round. He became the first player to ever shoot 29 on the back nine of the Stadium Course.
“Yeah, I mean … considering where I was at the start of the back nine, I was probably tied 34th or something like that,” said Hatton, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational. “Especially with how I was hitting it off the tee on the front nine, I was struggling with a block fade, which it’s just not a nice shot to have on a left-to-right wind.
“I can’t even think properly right now … actually, I did (shoot 29 for nine holes) in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. (TPC Sawgrass) in one of my favorite golf courses. There are couple of tee shots that I probably struggle with more than other lads who have a more natural right-to-left or drawers of the ball, but I think it’s such a pretty golf course.
“Considering where I was at the start of the back nine, I was probably tied 34th or something like that … I’m really happy with how it’s played out. Good day’s work.”
Viktor Hovland of Norway made three straight birdies on the back nine in a 68 finished seven shots back in a tie for third with Tom Hoge, who broke the tournament record with a 62 in the third round before closing with a 70 thanks to two late birdies, and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan was one more down in solo fifth after also making three birdies in a row on the back nine.
Sixth-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal sank an 11-foot eagle putt at No. 11 on his way to a 69 and wound up nine behind in a big tie for sixth with Justin Suh of San Jose and USC, who totaled 70; Justin Rose of England, who had a 71; David Lingmerth of Sweden, who shot 72; Sungjae Im of South Korea, who also had a 72; Cam Davis of Australia, who finished at 74, and Min Woo Lee of Australia, who struggled to a 76.
Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA shot 72 and finished in a tie for 19th that included seventh-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who finished at 68, while 10th-ranked Justin Thomas, the 2021 Players champion, tied for 60th after a second straight 71, and eighth-ranked Will Zalatoris of San Francisco stumbled to a 77 and was 73rd.
Hovland, with his tie for third, climbed back into the World Golf Rankings at No. 9, knocking out Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who tied for 13th with a 71.
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