Tour Confidential: Scottie Scheffler’s win, Ludvig Aberg’s Masters potential

Scottie Scheffler receives his green jacket from Jon Rahm.

Jon Rahm returned Scottie Scheffler's green jacket honor this year.

Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us at @golf_com. This week, we discuss Scottie Scheffler’s Masters win, Ludvig Aberg’s potential, Tiger Woods’ week and more

1. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler won the Masters, picking up his second green jacket and, in the process, his third win in his last four starts. Have we officially entered the Scottie Scheffler era in pro golf? And, if so, just how dominant can his run be?

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Josh Sens, senior writer (@joshsens): It was kinda seeming like the Scheffler era before the tournament even began, as he was pretty much winning or contending in every event he entered. The odds on him as a favorite coming into the Masters further underscored that point. They weren’t exactly what they were for Tiger Woods at his peak, but they were close. And rightly so, because we haven’t seen this kind of dominance since Tiger. How long can he maintain it? He’s going to win plenty more. But he’s also about to become a dad for the first time. We’ve seen it before. Things can change when golfers start changing diapers. Let’s talk after the PGA Championship in May, when he’s a few weeks into sleep-deprived fatherhood.

Jessica Marksbury, senior editor (@jess_marksbury): Good point, Josh. It sure feels like the Scheffler era — and it’s much-deserved. His all-around game is so good, so steady, it’s hard to find a reason to see an end in sight. As far as a potential change in priorities when his child arrives, well, he already seems pretty tuned in to what’s most important in life. Maybe that’s his real superpower. But as Josh said, time will tell on that front.  

Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): It’s Scottie’s world and we’re living in it. If he keeps putting like he has over the last six weeks, we could be in for a run like Rory in 2014, Spieth in 2015 or DJ in 2017. (And maybe even better?) All I know is that Scottie is a cut above everyone else in pro golf right now. We could be in for a historically dominant run.

Nick Dimengo, senior editor (instruction) (@ndimengo): Scheffler has the mental fortitude to be absolutely dominant for the foreseeable future. It’s tough for me to go to Tiger-level dominance, but when he locks in like he did on Sunday, at this moment, no golfer in the world can match him.

2. What impressed you most about Scheffler’s final round or week?

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Sens: How effortless it looked, even when he didn’t have everything dialed in. His distance control with his irons was a bit off early Sunday, but no matter. His short game picked him up. So it goes with Scheffler. To make another Tiger comparison, he can win with his B game. Or, as a friend observed, astutely: he’s the Nikola Jokic of golf. Doesn’t seem like he’s doing much but then you look up, and he’s got another triple-double. Or, rather, a second green jacket

Marksbury: Not to belabor the Tiger comparisons, but Woods was always lauded for his mental toughness, and the more we see Scheffler compete under pressure, the more impressed I am with his ability to remain unruffled, at least on the outside. It’s easy to forget that this thing was tied with the back nine looming. But Scheffler’s talent and patience and poise outpaced his competitors by a wide margin.

Melton: His decision-making. As Sens noted, it didn’t look like Scottie has his A-game, and he still destroyed the field. He did that by keeping himself out of trouble and knowing where to miss. Scottie is not only one of the most talented golfers, he’s one of the smartest, too.

Dimengo: His focus! Sure, my colleagues pointed out other traits that he did better than anyone else, but we saw ANGC chew up and spit out the best players in the world – yet Scottie was unfazed by it all. Add in the uncertainty of his wife potentially going into labor, and, sheesh, this guy’s mental strength is on steroids!

3. Two years ago, Scheffler led by three after 54 holes. This year, he had more company. Which contender are you most surprised let his chance slip away at the end?

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Sens: Morikawa, because he was the most battle-proven, and he seemed to have all parts of his game in order. The shot he left in the bunker on 9 and the water ball on 11 – both of which led to doubles – were not the kind of mistakes I expected him to make.

Marksbury: Aberg was so impressive on the front nine that I really thought he might give Scheffler a scare. But that water ball on 11 must have been really deflating. You just can’t suffer a double-bogey at Amen Corner on Sunday! Had that hole gone differently, I think we may have been in for a much more dramatic finish. But I sure am excited to watch Aberg in the rest of the majors this year. 

Melton: Two great answers above, so I’ll go in a different direction and say Bryson DeChambeau. He looked like he’d finally solved Augusta on Thursday, and then battled through some brutal conditions on Friday to share the 36-hole lead. But he wasn’t quite so sharp over the weekend and faded down the stretch. I figured he’d be more of a contender come Sunday afternoon.

Dimengo: As a side note: Aberg impressed me so much, just how he navigated ANGC, the pressure, and how he played to the crowd. That said, Morikawa’s a two-time major champ and admitted to “being greedy” on both 9 and 11. For him to get back to the level he expects from himself, he’s got to rediscover how to win when the pressure’s the biggest – which he didn’t prove on Sunday.

4. A bunch of good, young, green-jacket-less players battled atop the leaderboard on Sunday. Which one is most likely to win a Masters next, and why?

Ludvig Aberg finished second this week in his first major. David Cannon/Getty Images

Sens: Ludvig Aberg. The power game. The poise. The putting. He’s obviously got all the shots to handle Augusta. And by all appearances, he has the mindset for it, too. Sure, there was that one big miss on his approach on the 11th. But sheesh, it was his first major and he beat everyone but the best player in the world.

Marksbury: For sure, Josh. I don’t want to double up on Aberg, so I’ll go with Homa. He’s raised his game in a big way over the last couple of years, and finally broke through to contend at Augusta, where his previous best finish was T43. I also really liked his Zen state of mind this week. To paraphrase, he basically said, I can only be as good as I am. And that’s enough for me. Love that! I have to believe he’ll get his major eventually — and maybe it will be a Masters.

Melton: There’s only one correct answer here, and it’s Ludvig Aberg. Not only was this his first Masters, this was his first major! And he finished second, only being bested by the best player in the world. Ludvig has already won on both the PGA and European Tours, and now he’s proven his game holds up in majors, too. He looks to be golf’s next superstar, and it’s hard to imagine a future in which he doesn’t win a green jacket.

Dimengo: For the sake of diversity, I’m going Cam Young. I know, he finished T9 and didn’t really make a run at this Masters, but this dude is so good that he seems to be learning the ropes before getting his own major title. Now, he just needs to learn how to put four straight days together to make it happen.

5. With golf’s PGA Tour vs. LIV divide, much has been said and written about this week’s field being the best we’ve seen in months. Did this week feel any more meaningful given the fracture in the game?

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Sens: I dunno. The Masters always feels meaningful. I’m not sure the tournament itself felt significantly different. But like the other majors, it does remind us of what the pro game has lost the rest of the year.

Marksbury: Absolutely! The best players all in one place. That’s the meaning we’ve been missing, and we appreciate more and more as it’s become more rare.

Melton: Maybe not more meaningful, but it did remind me how much having a fractured pro game sucks. It’s a shame we only get to watch guys like Bryson, Reed and Phil play against the world’s best with something meaningful on the line four times a year. 

Dimengo: Totally! But I couldn’t agree with Zephyr more: Only getting to see the best players compete against one another four times a year just isn’t fair. Get this thing figured out, fellas, because golf fans deserve better drama no matter what event it is!

6. Tiger Woods set the record for most consecutive cuts made at a Masters (24) but finished last among the players to make the cut. How would you sum up Tiger’s week? And would you expect better or worse from him in the final three majors of the year?

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Sens: I thought it was pretty impressive that he got through to the weekend, with his bum leg on such a hilly course in that blustery weather. He was willing himself around Augusta. It seemed like it was going to be just a matter of time before the conditions and the course caught up to him. And so it was. Woods obviously isn’t just going out there trying to make cuts. But I think that would count as a kind of victory in the rest of the year’s majors, with the Open Championship being his best chance to actually contend, though I wouldn’t bet on that either.

Marksbury: Tiger Woods has always been the king of clutch moments, and, as a golf history buff, I have to believe he knew exactly what he was playing for in Rounds 1 and 2, and he played some seriously good golf to do it. Once he owned the consecutive-cuts record outright, though, maybe actually contending was just too much to bear. Given what he’s been through physically, I think finishing 72 holes is a win in itself. And I think he could still surprise us on a track that’s easier to walk.

Melton: I was impressed he made the cut, but his body just isn’t in a place where he can be competitive for 72 holes. Funny as it sounds, I expect him to have a solid week at this summer’s U.S. Open. Pinehurst No. 2 is a relatively flat course, and there’s no rough to speak of. The greens are Augusta-esque in that they require so much imagination to navigate, and I think that’ll play right into his hand. I could see him having a good week in the sand hills this summer. 

Dimengo: Kudos to Tiger for even sticking it out after his dreadful Saturday. The fact that a buddy asked me if I thought he’d withdraw seems comical now – because I don’t think Woods would ever do that at Augusta, given its history and his understanding of it – but it probably crossed other fans’ minds. That said, this is his favorite major, and this is the course he knows better than anyone else, so it’s hard for me to expect too much more from him in the other 3 majors. But tournaments are more interesting when he makes the cut, so just give me that and I’ll be happy.

7. Ten years from now, what will you remember most about the 2024 Masters?

Sens: The crazy winds, the difficulty of the conditions and Tiger shooting 82.

Marksbury: The wind, for sure!

Melton: The crispy conditions and Scottie’s dominance.

Dimengo: How mortal ANGC made the best players look. From the wind to the mishits to the higher-than-normal scores, the event was wild from start to finish.

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