Who can handle the hype? Setting the scene for an intriguing Masters

Who can handle the hype?  Setting the scene for an intriguing Masters

Woods won three events and returned to world number one before arriving at Augusta 11 years ago as the heavy favorite.

This year, Scheffler, who has dominated the rankings for the past 47 weeks, also had a strong performance, winning twice and finishing second in his last three events.

But that’s where the 27-year-old will want the similarities to end.

Woods, then a four-time Masters champion, finished tied for fourth in 2013 and narrowly avoided being disqualified after unwittingly admitting in a post-round interview to suffering an illegal fall during the second round.

Scheffler leads in most of the PGA Tour’s key metrics, from tee to green, while his putting stats – which have been under scrutiny – are up after his recent work with putting guru Phil Kenyon.

He went straight to the champions’ locker room to put on his green jacket upon his arrival in Augusta for the 88th edition of the only major tournament which takes place every year at the same place.

In the famous white clubhouse, go up 13 steps and turn left. It’s a journey that only winners travel. Scheffler shares a locker with 1971 winner Charles Coody and 1937 champion Byron Nelson, fellow Texans.

“It’s usually the first thing we do here on Sunday when I get there,” said Scheffler, who has finished in the top 20 in his other three starts. “It’s fun to walk around the field and be able to put it on. It’s a special feeling.”

It’s a special feeling that McIlroy desperately wants to feel. This will be the 16th year that the Northern Irishman will play among the azaleas and magnolias.

Even the most casual golf fan will surely know that over the past decade he arrived in Georgia with the goal of completing his career Grand Slam, having won two US PGA Championships as well as the Open and the US Open between 2011 and 2014.

It’s been 13 years since his best chance to win the Masters went “pear-shaped” on the 10th, as he so succinctly put it at the time. A triple bogey seven on the par four that opens the back nine came in a ruinous round of 80 as he squandered a four-shot lead on Sunday.

Two years ago he recorded his best result – but it was far behind Scheffler, three shots behind despite closing with an eight-under 64. On each side, there are two missed cuts.


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