Scheffler’s stunning comeback earns historic win at The Players

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Scheffler’s stunning comeback earns historic win at The Players

Scottie Scheffler produced an incredible final-round comeback to pull clear of a star-studded leaderboard and successfully defend his title in a historic Sunday at The Players.

Scheffler – who had been struggling with a neck injury – overcame a five-stroke deficit during a memorable final day at TPC Sawgrass, carding an eagle and six birdies in a stunning bogey-free 64 to finish on 20 under.

The world No 1 was left to wait as Ryder Cup team-mates Brian Harman, Wyndham Clark and Xander Schauffele all had a chance to match his total, with Scheffler’s amazing win confirmed when none of the chasing trio could find a final-hole birdie to extend the contest.

Final leaderboard

-20 Scottie Scheffler (USA)

-19 Brian Harman (USA), Xander Schauffele (USA), Wyndham Clark (USA)

Others: -16 Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng); -9 Rory McIlroy (NIrl)

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Scottie Scheffler wins The Players Championship as Wyndham Clark’s putt to take it to a playoff agonisingly horseshoes out

Harman carded a final-round 68 to share second with Schauffele and Clark, who suffered an agonising lip-out on the final hole, while Matt Fitzpatrick birdied each of the final four holes to finish fifth on 16 under.

Scheffler’s victory makes him the first player to successfully defend his title at The Players, with the win following his dominant success at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week and securing him an eighth PGA Tour title in 25 months.

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Scottie Scheffler makes four birdies and an eagle to put himself right in contention at The Players Championship.

How Scheffler made history at The Players

Scheffler – playing three groups ahead of the leaders – opened with three straight pars before kickstarting his round with a stunning hole-out eagle from the fourth fairway and a 20-foot birdie at the par-four next.

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Scottie Scheffler made an incredible hole-out eagle at the par-four fourth during his final round at The Players

The defending champion holed from eight feet to save par at the seventh and converted from 15 feet to birdie the next, with Scheffler adding another at the par-five ninth to reach the turn in 31 and temporarily make it a three-way tie at the top.

Scheffler responded to a missed opportunity at the 10th by getting up and down from the sand to take advantage of the par-five next, then produced a sensational drive at the par-four 12th to set up a two-putt birdie to share the lead with Schauffele.

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The world No 1 wasted a five-foot birdie look after a brilliant tee shot at the par-three 13th but edged into the solo lead when Schauffele carded back-to-back bogeys from the 14th, with Scheffler birdieing the par-five 16th to move into the solo lead for the first time.

Scheffler safely negotiated the par-three 17th and then came agonisingly close to a birdie at the last, with a par setting the clubhouse target at 20 under with the closest challengers still having holes to play.

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Scottie Scheffler was inches away from taking a two-shot lead into the clubhouse at The Players Championship the putt was narrowly wide

Harman had followed a front-nine 34 with birdies at the 11th and 15th to close with one of Scheffler although was unable to find a final-hole birdie to take the contest to a play-off, while Clark recovered from a bogey at the 14th to produce back-to-to back birdies from the 16th.

Schauffele failed to match Clark’s birdie at the par-three 17th, missing from six feet after both fired remarkable tee shots, keeping both on 19 under with one to play and needing a birdie at the last to extend the contest.

Xander Schauffele lines up his putt on the second hole during the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Image: Xander Schauffele remains without a victory since the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open

Clark – chasing a fourth victory in 10 months – found the final fairway and knocked his approach to just under 20 feet, then looked on in disbelief as his birdie putt horseshoed out of the hole and secured Scheffler’s title.

“That’s pretty special – it’s something you don’t get to do very often,” Scheffler said. “It’s tough enough to win one Players, so to have it back to back is extremely special and I’m really thankful.

“I was hoping to be in this position. I put up a good fight for four days – that’s really all it was. I got off to a slow start today, but the hole-out on four kind of propelled us a little bit. I hit a lot of good shots today, did a lot of good things, and it’s nice to come out on top.”

Fitzpatrick’s four-birdie finish gave the Englishman his best finish of the PGA Tour season, while final-round 64 from former champion Si Woo Kim saw him share sixth with Hideki Matsuyama.

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Matt Fitzpatrick gets off to a brilliant start on day four of The Players, opening with back-to-back birdies and narrowing the gap at the top of the leaderboard

2019 champion Rory McIlroy carded 26 birdies during the tournament but experienced an inconsistent final three rounds, with a level-par 72 on Sunday leaving him in tied-19th and 11 strokes behind the winner.

What’s next?

The PGA Tour season stays in Florida for the Valspar Championship, with early action live on Thursday from 11.30am on Sky Sports Golf and full coverage beginning at 6pm. The men’s major season begins with The Masters from April 11-14, also exclusively live. Stream the PGA Tour and more with NOW.

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