AUGUSTA, Ga. — Many victorious golfers had sat in this very spot, wearing this coveted green jacket, answering questions from a curious gallery ready to chronicle how the Masters had just been won, chronicling bogeys and birdies and peeling away the emotion of one of the most glorious days in golf.
But not many have had a gallery quite like the one Scottie Scheffler looked into Sunday. While this Masters win was his and his alone, he made it abundantly clear, with every comment he made about the ones who helped him get here, that this was a family affair. And this was a family win.
“For sure,” he said. “I just can’t thank my family enough for their support.”
He looked up as he spoke. There was his dad, Scott, swiping the back of his hand across wet eyes as Scottie talked lovingly of the way he’d been raised.
There was his mom, Diane, whose job as the COO of a Texas law firm supported the family from the day they moved out of New Jersey, back when Scottie was 6 years old and dad took over as the stay-at-home specialist.
There were his sisters, the eldest Callie who used to caddie for him in summers, the younger one Molly who’d been dragged to so many tournaments while growing up, the spirit of their fourth sibling Sara, who was away in Portugal but watching on television, and the dream of their future niece or nephew, with Callie and her husband expecting their first child.
And then there was his wife, Meredith, his soulmate, his partner on a journey that suddenly exploded into the national sports consciousness with Scottie’s unparalleled rise to the top of the golf rankings and now, to his first major championship at the Masters. For all this 25-year-old has done across the past six weeks, from winning his first career title in Phoenix to winning his fourth title in his last six tournaments, it was Meredith who helped him secure this biggest one of all, when he finished three shots clear of the field to claim his first green jacket.
He’d gone to bed with the three-shot lead Saturday night and felt pretty calm and focused, his primary complaint that the dinner he and Meredith picked up on the way home to their rental house spilled in the car. “She’s still laughing at me,” he said. They watched a few episodes of their favorite, “The Office,” and gave in to the exhaustion of three hard days of golf. But when Scottie woke up on Sunday, and the long hours until his 2:40 p.m. final-group tee time stretched in front of him, it was a different story.
“I cried like a baby,” he said. “I was so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there telling Meredith, I don’t think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready, I don’t feel like I’m ready for this kind of stuff, and I just felt overwhelmed.
“She told me, ‘Who are you to say that you are not ready? Who am I to say that I know what’s best for my life?’ And so what we talked about is that God is in control and that the Lord is leading me; and if today is my time, it’s my time. …
“For me, my identity isn’t a golf score. Like Meredith told me this morning, if you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again she goes, ‘I’m still going to love you, you’re still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you and nothing changes.’”
Now it was Meredith’s turn to bite her lip, turning to her father-in-law beside her as their eyes met in gratitude, the entire group of Schefflers (and Meredith’s family as well) going along for the emotional ride. That’s the way they’ve always done it, Scott taking the kids to hit golf balls for hours at night, holding a flashlight in the distance so young Scottie could aim, trying to watch out for the girls at the same time so they didn’t get hit.
“It’s just what you do as a father for your children,” Scott said after the win. “You do for your kids. I’ve done for all of them. They’ve given us great joy. But Scott’s the one who’s done all the hard work, not me. I just raised ‘em.”
He did it well. Said Scottie, who knew nothing different than to be home with dad while mom went to work five (or six or seven) days a week, who knows nothing more than to be around so many strong women, “Fortunately for me I grew up with three sisters and my dad was there, and he did a great job raising us. Both my parents I think would do anything for any of us. And so you know, they didn’t parent perfectly, obviously, but for me, they did the best they could all the time, and I love them for that. I can’t speak highly enough of the hard work that they have put in.
“I can’t put it into words, I really can’t.”
He just did. As he did for Callie, who like Molly and Sara became pretty good golfers, too, following their brother’s lead. “Callie caddied for me for a number of years during the summer, and I love hitting this like low wedge, and so her favorite shot is when I can skip it in there to a back pin and she just kind of would stay out of the way, and that was fun for her.
“On No. 9 this week, the second round, the pin was way in the back, and I hit this same shot I always hit, I love it, and hit this low skipper, skipped back there nipped by the pin, and saw her sitting on the side of the green and thought that’s pretty funny, she probably liked that shot a lot.”
There weren’t many shots not to like, other than the four putts it took Scottie to finish off 18 on Sunday. It was the first sign of nerves he’d shown all week, when an unflappable outside stayed calm with great play on the course and great play off it (in board games). But there, when it was finally over, he looked over toward the exit toward the scoring cabin, and who did he see?
His wife, his sisters, his mom, his dad, his brother-in-law, his in-laws. They hugged in twos and in threes, melting together but never, it seemed, coming apart.