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As CBS Sports signed off the air from the Green Jacket ceremony at Butler Cabin a year ago, Jim Nantz’s final words on Scottie Scheffler’s triumphant week were these: “There was emotion in there after all. He just has a great way of hiding it, doesn’t he?”

At the time, Nantz had no idea how true those words rang.

Scheffler, who surged in front at the 86th Masters with rounds of 69-67-71, appeared to be the definition of cool, calm and collected, but it turned out he was anything but in the hours leading to the final round at Augusta National.

After he woke up, Scheffler tried watching some of the pre-round coverage with wife Meredith, lowering the volume to quiet the announcers. He’d suffered from a stomach ache the past few days, but this queasy feeling was different. His mind drifted to what was at stake for him later that day – fame, fortune, a lifetime invitation to the most coveted dinner in golf, the first line of his obit someday – and the moment started to feel too big for him. That’s when his emotions got the better of him and as Scheffler put it, he cried like a baby.

“I’m a crier. Always have been. It’s nothing unusual for Meredith to see,” Scheffler said. “Everyone sees things from the outside. When you watch me on TV, you look so calm, how are you so calm and these things? Me, myself, I’m not that calm. It’s what the Lord has done for my life. In that moment, I just wanted to tell exactly what was going on and be honest. … 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.”

Scott Scheffler celebrates with his wife Meredith after winning the 2023 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

Thanks to the calming presence that only a supportive wife can offer, Scheffler found a sense of inner peace before he teed off and overcame the biggest challenge he’d face that day: himself. In the ensuing four hours, he went out and showed the world what those who knew him best had witnessed on repeat – Scheffler’s been a winner all his life.

Colt Knost and the other PGA Tour pros that called Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas home used to call Scheffler their little shadow.

“He followed us around with those puppy dog eyes,” Knost said.

Scheffler did so with a purpose. Every chance he could get, he’d flip over a range ball bucket and sit and watch renowned instructor Randy Smith give lessons to the likes of Knost, Hunter Mahan, Harrison Frazar, Justin Leonard and Martin Flores, absorbing knowledge on how to play the game.

“He’s like a sponge,” Smith said.

From the precocious age of 8, Scheffler was the kid who always wanted to have putting contests, and no putt was ever good. He’d play with the pros from the back tees and stand on the range for hours, peppering a yellow barber pole positioned anywhere from 70 to 90 yards away depending on where the tee was set for the day.

“Like every five minutes, you just heard this ding,” Knost recalled. “Scottie would just turn around and smile. I mean, he just would wear this thing out.”

All these years later, Scheffler, 26, is still peppering flagsticks. On April 10, 2022, he shot a final-round 1-under 71 at Augusta National Golf Club to win the 86th Masters by three strokes and validate his rise to World No. 1 in impressive fashion.

In the ensuing year, he’s hardly slowed down, being named PGA Tour Player of the Year, defending his title at the WM Phoenix Open in February and waltzing to a five-stroke win at the Players Championship in March. He also re-staked his claim to being the best golfer on the planet after playing musical chairs for the past several months at the top spot with Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.

Scheffler has proved he’s no flash in the pan. His ascent from 2006 Future Masters 10-and-under age group winner to a 44 Large Green Jacket has been a step-by-step process, rising through the ranks to major champion status.

Brady Watt congratulates Scottie Scheffler after Scheffler made a hole-in-one at No. 7 during the quarterfinals at the 2013 U. S. Amateur at The Country Club.

That included winning the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur, matching Jordan Spieth’s Texas high school record by capturing three individual state titles, and as a 17-year-old amateur, finishing tied for 22nd in his PGA Tour debut at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“He won some 90 junior tournaments, U.S. Junior Am, three college wins, Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year, wins on the PGA Tour,” Knost said. “The next step was the majors.”

Before Scheffler developed his skills at Royal Oaks, he already loved the game. He was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and his fondest memory of living there consist of hitting golf balls in the backyard over his family’s house.

That wasn’t the only place he’d whack them. One of his older sisters, Callie, swam competitively at Bergen Community College, and rather than ride home during her practices, Scottie would hit golf balls on a nearby field.

“We would go out there with a flashlight because it was dark in the winter, and the police would kick us off and we’d come back on and the police would kick us off (again),” Scottie’s father, Scott, recalled. “One day the officer came over and I said, ‘Would you just watch him for a minute?’ He said, ‘Wow, he really likes this. He’s good at it.’ Then he wouldn’t bother us anymore.”

A love of the game was quickly established, and it took flight when the Schefflers relocated to Texas — his mother, Diane, the breadwinner in the family, had landed a COO job at the Dallas law firm Thompson & Knight. Scheffler’s parents sought the best instructor to cultivate their son’s growing interest in the game and landed at the gates of Royal Oak, a private club with a $50,000 initiation fee at the time, so Scottie could work with Smith, who had coached Leonard to a British Open title in 1997.

“The closest I’d ever gotten to a country club was driving by the entrance,” Scott Scheffler recalled.

They also struck up an unlikely friendship on the far side of the practice tee during their initial visit with Rocky Hambric, a golf agent whose first client, Larry Nelson, ended up in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and more recently represented the likes of major winners Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. One Sunday later, the Hambrics and Schefflers bumped into each other again at church and went to lunch afterwards.

“Basically, for the next 10 years or so we ended up spending most of every Sunday together having lunch and watching the golf and really got pretty close with the whole family,” Hambric said.

When it came time for Scheffler to be confirmed in the Catholic church, he chose Hambric as his sponsor since he was the closest thing to family in the area.

“I was like his substitute godfather,” said Hambric, noting his godfather from birth lived in New Jersey.

Smith’s son, Blake, serves as Scheffler’s day-to-day agent at Hambric Sports Management, while Randy became his swing whisperer and unofficial life coach. From Scheffler’s first pass at the ball, Smith realized that his new pupil possessed a rare gift.

“He had a savant-like quality the way he went about things. He did things the other kids didn’t do,” Smith said. “I’ve seen other kids with pretty swings hit the ball far and all that, but everything Scottie did was tied to hitting to a target. He could shape it both ways at a target. He’s a sponge. He picked up all this information from all the pros at Royal Oaks and absorbed everything.”

Scottie Scheffler’s Nike golf shoes during the final round of the 2022 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Smith did another interesting thing: He never changed Scheffler’s unorthodox footwork – his feet aren’t planted on the ground, as with most traditional pro swings, instead moving as he almost jumps at the ball.

“He’s an athlete,” Smith said. “And athletes play golf differently than robots.”

Added Knost: “All these young kids go out and play golf swing, and he goes out and plays golf. He’s got these weird finishes but all he’s trying to do is put a score on the board.”

Scheffler grew up at a time when Spieth, three years his senior, was setting a high bar for golfers in the Dallas area, but Scheffler kept pace by winning all those Legends Junior Tour and North Texas PGA tournaments and battled head-to-head with fellow future PGA Tour pro Will Zalatoris, who met Scheffler when he was 9. Zalatoris described him as “goofy.”

“He wore pants to every tournament even if it was 110 degrees,” Zalatoris recalled.

But there was a method to Scheffler’s madness. “Because I wanted to play golf on the PGA Tour,” he explained. “I would wear pants and a collared shirt to like third-grade class and get made fun of and rightfully so.”

For all of his son’s success at the junior level, Scott Scheffler, who was a stay-at-home dad to his four kids, still wondered if his son was good enough to make it to golf’s highest level. Having not grown up in the game, he wasn’t the typical parent that Hambric ran across that assumed their child to be the second coming of Jack Nicklaus even though their kid wasn’t very good.

“His dad used to ask me all the time, ‘Are you sure, Rocky? Are you sure he’s good enough? This isn’t going to end in some tremendous disappointment, is it?’ ” Hambric recalled. “I’d say, ‘Calm down, Scott, he’s good enough. He’s very, very special. Just help him grow up as normal as he possibly can and there’s no way this can mess up.’ And that’s exactly what they did.”

Kramer Hickok, another Dallas native and three years Scottie’s senior, said his former teammate at Texas is just starting to play his best golf.

“The best way I can put it is he’s always been so confident. I think if you asked him, it’s no surprise that he’s No. 1 in the world. He was unbelievable as a freshman in college,” Hickock said. “I don’t know if people know this but Scottie’s unbelievable at everything he does. Pickleball, basketball, he’s a freak athlete that has this mental capability that he can go into a tunnel vision and shoot low numbers.”

How about shooting a pair of 59s in a matter of weeks? On May 1, 2019, shortly after graduating Texas and joining the Korn Ferry Tour, Scheffler moved into a house in Dallas on Clover Meadow – nicknamed “the Dirty Meadow” – with former Oklahoma Sooners Max McGreevy, Charlie Saxon and Grant Hirschman as well as Drew Ison, who played collegiately at Drake. They set up a net in the living room and when Scheffler was in town he’d help the guys with their game. But it was during the COVID-19 shutdown when everyone was home that the games heated up.

“Basically, Scottie paid rent for six months out of his Venmo account from taking money from the other guys in our house,” Ison told Golf Oklahoma.

Scheffler might be the first golfer to shoot 59 and not know he did so until they were driving home from the course and settling bets.

“He had a bogey on the ninth hole after trying to hit a driver off the deck and topping it into a creek,” Ison said.

That 59 was shot at Texas Rangers Golf Club and the other at Royal Oaks.

“And the day before he shot 59 at Royal Oaks, he shot a 60!” Ison said. “He made golf look like a video game!”

“We’re like, ‘Surely, he’s playing golf like a top-10 player in the world right now,’” Hirschman said of some of the post-round conversations back at the house. “And sure enough, we were right.”

Scheffler finally broke through with his first victory at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open and just 42 days later he ascended to No. 1. The golf world was still learning how tough of a competitor Scheffler can be, but Meredith remembers learning this lesson early on when they were high-school sweethearts. She remembers going to the Scheffler house and enduring three-hour long games of Scrabble.

“If he lost, he wanted to play again and if I lost I wanted to play again,” said Scheffler’s mom, Diane.

“He’s just a humble guy unless he beats you in a money game,” said Saxon, “and in that case, he’ll make sure you hear about it for the rest of the day.”

Scottie Scheffler fist bumps his caddie Ted Scott after chipping in for birdie on No. during the final round of the 2022 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Andrew Davis Tucker-Augusta Chronicle/USA TODAY Sports)

On the morning of the final round of the Masters, Scheffler held a three-stroke lead but had a lot of time to kill before his 2:50 p.m. tee time in the final group. And that’s when doubt, which kills more dreams than failure ever will, crept into his head.

“I grew up wanting to win that tournament, and it’s never easy playing with a lead,” said Scheffler, who teared up the first time he received his invite to the 2020 Masters in the mail. “It’s not easy playing with a lead when (you’re trying to win your) first major and it’s the Masters.”

Meredith experienced her own battle with doubt and anxiety. For her, it had been the night before on the ride to pick up dinner at Chipotle that her mind began racing at the thought of what her husband was on the verge of achieving and how it could change their lives.

“I was a mess,” she said. “I was super-overwhelmed and was talking to the Lord about it. I felt like he put truth into my head. It was really sweet.”

That moment prepared Meredith to be the rock her husband needed the next morning and when he turned into a “blubbering mess,” she rose to the occasion.

“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,” Scheffler recalled during his winner’s press conference. “And if I shot 82 today, you know, somehow I was going to use it for His glory. Gosh, it was a long morning. It was long.”

“I just shared exactly what I felt like the Lord had put onto my heart,” Meredith explained. “I think the Lord just used that moment to bring truth to both of us. I think it was really cool that the Lord did that because I think if the day had played out without both of us having that moment of feeling overwhelmed, we would have been super-prideful and may have let it get to our heads. It kind of broke us that morning and made us rely on him, which I think was such a gift that it happened that morning. I think it gave both of us peace throughout the day if we were relying only on our own strength.”

Once Scheffler got to the course, he settled into his familiar routine and veteran caddie Ted Scott, who steered Bubba Watson to a pair of green jackets previously, knew just the right words to say before they headed to the first tee.

“I want you to remember two things. One, you’re not in unfamiliar territory. This is what you do and have always done. Just another day of golf,” Scott said. “And number two is that God is in control of everything.”

Scheffler grinned. “All, right,” he said, “let’s move.”

“Let’s do it, kid,” Scott said.

Scheffler also said he owed a debt of gratitude to Tiger Woods, who provided inspiration. Scheffler used the model of Tiger’s signature irons, wore his branded shoes and shirt at the Masters and learned from his YouTube clips.

“I remember watching the highlights of him winning in ’97, kind of running away with it, and he never really broke his concentration,” Scheffler said. “That’s something that I reminded myself of today. I tried not to look up. I tried to keep my head down and just keep doing what I was doing because I didn’t want to break my concentration.”

During his college days at Texas, Scheffler’s coach, John Fields, noticed that Scheffler had a tendency to lose his concentration in the middle of rounds and make unforced errors.

“He would kind of come up to me and be like, ‘Scottie, if that was the 18th hole and you were trying to win the golf tournament, you would never hit a shot like that.’ He was 100 percent correct. And so that’s something I’ve worked on, just being focused and committed to each shot,” Scheffler said. “I struggled with that in college. I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t always ready. I didn’t trust myself like I do now.”

Scottie Scheffler during the final round of the 2022 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

On Sunday, at Augusta, Scheffler’s focus remained intact until the final hole when he took four putts on the final green but had a big enough cushion that it hardly mattered.

“I had a five-shot lead and was like, ‘All right, now I can enjoy this.’ And you saw the results of that. Thank you, Tiger,” he said.

After Scheffler had hugged his wife at the 18th green and slipped into his Green Jacket, he was asked a seemingly harmless question at his winner’s press conference: How did you handle the late tee time today? What did you do last night, what did you do this morning, and how many episodes of “The Office” did you watch? And from it Scheffler bared his soul as if giving confession. Who knew the Green Jacket winner had cried like a baby that morning, riddled with doubt?

“Maybe I should play more poker or something,” he joked at the time of the deceiving face that fooled Nantz and the rest of the world.

“I hope it resonated with people,” he said in late March during his pre-Masters press conference. “I like to be honest in these settings and that was definitely something that I wanted to be honest about.”

It resonated with Nantz, who read the transcript of Scheffler’s press conference later and said of his revelation: “It was just a real look into who Scottie truly is – no false pretense. It took a lot to share that but good for him, he’s as human, let’s call that ‘normal,’ as any big-time champ to come along in any sport.”

In victory, Scheffler joined Ian Woosnam in 1991 as the only players to win a major — the Masters in both cases — in their debut at No. 1 in the world. Scheffler remained atop the mountain for 30 straight weeks after climbing to the top, and it would be shortsighted to overlook the significance of his journey there to Scheffler being chosen, in September 2021, to be a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. As Captain Steve Stricker weighed his options, it didn’t hurt to have Spieth as Scheffler’s chief cheerleader.

“I thought he would do what he did,” Spieth said of Scheffler’s impressive performance, which included a singles beatdown over Rahm, then ranked No. 1. “I don’t have a knack for calling those things, but that one I felt pretty confident about.”

It wasn’t just Spieth, who sensed Scheffler would thrive on one of the biggest stages in golf. Assistant Captain Davis Love III recalled being amazed how confident Scheffler’s teammates were that he deserved to be on the team.

“It wasn’t just one or two guys that you trust, it was everybody saying Scheffler’s the guy,” Love said.

Justin Thomas observed how claiming a big-time scalp gave Scheffler a boost of confidence that carried him first to a playoff victory at the WM Phoenix Open in February 2022, his breakthrough win that opened the floodgates to even greater successes.

“That week (at Whistling Straits in the Ryder Cup) playing under the biggest pressure — I mean, the highest pressure I’ve played under, and then us winning as a team, him playing as well as he did, making those big putts when he needed to was a huge, huge — I can’t speak for him, but I would assume was a huge – just a big wave of confidence for him that he was able to build on.”

Six wins in a span of 27 events, World No. 1, Player of the Year and a major? It’s heady stuff. Scheffler has made Knost, who predicted the floodgates would open for Scheffler after he claimed his first title, look like a soothsayer. Why was he so sure?

“He’s just a world-beater, man,” Knost said. “It’s been a treat to watch him grow up. I mean, he’s so huge now. I remember when he was like knee-high following everybody around with those puppy dog eyes.”

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