The Players Championship: Scottie Scheffler’s 88-year-old grandmother walks every hole of her dominating win

(CNN) They say a grandmother knows best. Newly crowned Players Championship winner Scottie Scheffler would wholeheartedly agree.

Scheffler’s grandmother, Mary, couldn’t have picked a better week to follow her grandson on the 72 holes of a tournament.

A dominating win sealed a dream Sunday for Scheffler at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, retaking his world No. 1 spot from Jon Rahm and securing him a $4.5 million cut from a record $25 million purse.

The 26-year-old American finished five strokes ahead of England’s Tyrrell Hatton, the biggest margin of victory in the event dubbed “the fifth major” since Stephen Ames claimed a six-stroke victory in 2006.

It’s a sixth PGA Tour victory in a remarkable 13 months for the reigning Masters champion, a victory made even sweeter by the fact that many of his family members are watching from behind the scenes. And a number were gathered on the final green to embrace the new champion; wife Meredith, mother, father and, of course, grandmother.

The 88-year-old had made the 20-minute trip from her home in Florida to monitor her grandson’s progress, with social media pictures showing her walking between the holes.

“It’s pretty impressive that she’s making so many holes here, she’s a soldier,” Scheffler told reporters.

“I really don’t know what to say. She’s had a tough year with grandpa passing, and we have an uncle who’s pretty sick, and I’m just happy that we can enjoy it all together.”

Although his duties were not completed for the day, according to Scheffler when asked how he would celebrate.

“Maybe grandma has some food at home,” he added.

“I know she has dessert. We’ll see what’s in store.”

Illustrious Company

Scheffler did his grandmother no favors with the frenetic pace he set around TPC Sawgrass all week.

After starting Sunday’s final round with a two-shot lead over Australia’s Min Woo Lee, the American escaped the field with a streak of five straight birdies on the eighth hole. A bogey on the 14th was scary, but Scheffler came home with four straight birdies to shoot three-under 69 for the round and 17-under overall.

Even a historic Hatton finish wasn’t enough to come close to Scheffler’s score. The 31-year-old, chasing his second PGA Tour victory after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2020, birdied seven blisteringly over the back nine – including the last five holes – to score a seven under. 65 years old.

In doing so, the Englishman equaled the tournament record for a score of 29 to nine at TPC Sawgrass, according to the PGA Tour. After starting the day in 26th place, his late flourish earned him $2.725 million in runner-up prize money, with Viktor Hovland and Tom Hoge finishing two strokes behind.

Hatton dazzled on its final nine holes.

Scheffler also made history. After his first major triumph in Augusta last year, he becomes the third player to simultaneously hold The Masters and The Players Championship titles after Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

With 33 majors and five Players Championships between them, the pair are illustrious company.

“A pretty special group of people. We could add all of our majors and players together and I have two now and they have a lot more than that,” Scheffler said with a laugh.

“Anytime you can be mentioned in the same breath as Tiger and Jack, it’s very special. I’m so grateful.”

Scheffler plays a shot from a bunker on the 16th hole in the final round.

Mastery mission

The win extends Scheffler’s strong start to 2023 and his second victory after defending his title at the WM Phoenix Open in February.

That triumph had seen Scheffler reclaim the world No. 1 spot from Rory McIlroy, only for Rahm to edge out the American a week later with a victory – already his third of the year – at the Genesis Invitational.

Still, the Spaniard’s hopes of a fourth were dashed early on at TPC Sawgrass as he withdrew after Thursday’s first round, citing an illness having opened with an Under-71.

Meanwhile, McIlroy endured an unusually scorching weekend, shooting 76 and 73 en route to missing the cut at a PGA Tour event for the first time since the FedEx St. Jude Championship in August 2022.

For the new world number 1, attention now turns to his ability to defend his green jacket at Augusta next month.

“I’m just comfortable with my game,” Scheffler said.

“I feel like I’m getting better. I’m definitely learning more and the more you can argue and be in the moments. I would say that’s probably the most valuable thing is knowing what you feel and be able to prepare for it.

“Coming into the Masters it’s going to be a fun week. Dinner of Champions, there’s going to be a lot of fun things I can do this week, but by the time we start on Thursday everyone starts evenly so it’s not probably doesn’t have much effect.”

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