Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re putting a bow on the action at Augusta National!
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The best golfers in the world do everything they can to peak for the Masters. But it’s not just the playing; it’s the talking, too. No event is more breathlessly reported on by the media, which means every pro has to be in prime question-answering form. Craving a little more action from Augusta? Let’s ease the comedown off Masters Week with a look back at the 10 best quotes from the week, arbitrarily selected by a one-man committee.
1. Scottie Scheffler on his Sunday morning feeling:
“This morning was a totally different story. I raised like a baby this morning. 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.”
From the outside, Scheffler looked unflappable on Sunday. He looked unflappable on Saturday, for that matter, and on Friday, and also two weeks ago, and really in each of the four victories he’s strung together these past couple months. But the appearance of on-course composition can be misleading.
It was terrific that Scheffler went deep in his winner’s press conference on exactly how he’d been feeling Sunday morning. The leader’s 2:50 final-round tee time is awfully late, after all. There’s a lot of time to kill. And with a hand from his wife, Scheffler was reminded that he was ready. Then he went out and proved it.
2. Rory McIlroy on his scintillating 64:
“What pleased me most was the par putt on 11, the two-putt on 12, the up-and-down on 14, the up-and-down on 17… those are the things that are really pleasing. And they aren’t the things that are going to get the highlights or the applause, but it’s those little things that keep the round going. That’s what I was most proud of today.”
With Scheffler out in front for several lengths, Rory McIlroy’s final-round charge up the leaderboard sent a jolt of energy around Augusta on Sunday. He put together a highlight reel on the second nine alone; he chipped in at No. 10, made eagle at No. 13 and holed a tremendous bunker shot at No. 18 to cap off an eight-under 64, the low round of the day by three.
We’ve seen plenty of Sunday charges at Augusta National over the years. But they often peter out with little mistakes; it’s easy to get in trouble at 11 or let a loose tee shot stall you out at 14 or 17. McIlroy got himself in trouble throughout the round but always found his way out thanks to gritty par saves and a tight, confident short game. I enjoyed hearing that he’d gotten particular pleasure out of keeping his card clean.
3. Tiger Woods on the example he’s hoping to set:
“I fight each and every day. Each and every day is a challenge. Each and every day presents its own different challenges for all of us. I wake up and start the fight all over again.”
This Woods quote came after his round on Saturday, when he battled tough conditions and a balky putter to a six-over 78. I wrote about the lessons of Woods’ comeback here, but this one’s particularly self-explanatory. Woods is here to fight. He’s proud to tell us he’s fighting, too. I appreciate this stage of the comeback.
4. Sam Woods on his father’s Masters appearance:
“It’s miraculous. It shouldn’t be happening.”
Sam Woods showed her poise and smarts when she delivered her dad’s Hall-of-Fame induction speech a few weeks ago. On Sunday she reinforced just how invested she is in his comeback from him. This is another quote from my story on Woods’ week and it hit particularly hard; Sam has grown up while her father de ella has been in various stages of comeback.
5. Bryson DeChambeau on watching from the gallery
“I came out to support the best ever,” he said. “It’s really cool — I don’t know how many chances I’ll get to do something like this.”
Our final Tiger Woods-related quote, I promise. But it was remarkable to see DeChambeau out and about on Sunday, following Woods’ round on foot, trying his best to blend in amongst the patrons. Pros don’t make a habit of watching other pros play tournament rounds from the crowd. DeChambeau’s embrace of the moment and the opportunity was very cool.
6. Bubba Watson on the week’s most ridiculous shot:
“Nobody in the world would have tried that shot that I tried. Nobody on the planet. We can sit here and they can tell me they would try it. There’s nobody who would have tried it. I don’t believe they could have pulled it off.”
Clearly Bubba Watson hasn’t played with my buddies; there’s always a dubious line through the trees to glory. But his point stands, because my buddies would go up in flames trying to hit the gap. Watson, on the other hand, delivered this:
How he got from point A to point B here will continue to mystify.
7. Tyrrell Hatton on his influenzas with Augusta National:
“You can hit good shots here and not get any reward for it. It’s unfair at times. I don’t agree with that. If you hit a good shot, you should end up near the hole — not short-sided into a bunker because of the slopes that they’ve created and stuff. Yeah, I don’t think it’s a fair test at times, and when you hit good shots and you’re not rewarded for it, it shows.”
We don’t often hear criticisms of Augusta these days, particularly from players in the field. Hatton isn’t most players, of course, and when he’s in last place he’s even more likely to give you a piece of his mind. Criticizing Augusta is a decades-old tradition, but it doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. Hatton at least stirred up conversation on the subject.
8. Shane Lowry on his countryman’s Ryder Cup chances:
“Obviously, I want him there, but I want me there first.”
It was a terrific Sunday for golfers from the Emerald Isle; McIlroy finished solo second while Lowry shared third. That directed conversation to Irishman Seamus Power, who would love to make the European side at next year’s Ryder Cup. Lowry would love that, too. But as much as he loves his country, he loves the idea of competing in the Ryder Cup even more.
9. Peyton Manning on Tiger Woods ruining his member-guests:
“It’s kinda made my golf matches with my buddies and a couple member-guest [tournaments] disappointing since then. It’s been a major letdown when my friend Eric Black can’t get up and down from some of the places Tiger did. I’m like, ‘What are you doing? Tiger gets up and down there all the time.’ And he’s like ‘Yeah, I haven’t won that many majors.’”
Manning partnered with Woods in a 2020 edition of The Match. He dished out some hilarious memories and insights from hanging with Woods and going to his house for a pre-round workout. But we feel for Eric Black. Good news, too: You can listen to Manning’s full remarks on the Drop Zone podcast (which you can find below).
10. Scottie Scheffler on his self-image:
“So 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.”
Scheffler got the first word; I have earned the last word, too. Golf’s new first couple seem to have a rock-solid foundation. They’re supportive of one another, they’re aligned in their faith and Meredith’s insistence that Scheffler doesn’t have to win actually results in him winning.
Until the next Masters, Scheffler gets the final word.