“I was coming in hot. I was feeling good,” he said. “I was a little hyper-aggressive on 16.”
Schauffele wound up becoming the latest victim of the iconic par-3 hole known as Redbud — and added another close call to a major championship resume that he admits is becoming “a big ball of scar tissue.”
His 8-iron didn’t go quite as far as he planned, skipped off the side of bank and plopped into the water.
Schauffele wound up with the first triple bogey he’s ever had in a major — in 1,042 holes — and squandered any chance of catching Matsuyama, who went on to become the first man from Japan to capture one of golf’s biggest events.
Schauffele tied for third with Jordan Spieth, three shots behind the winner at 7-under 281. Masters rookie Will Zalatoris slipped through to take the runner-up spot, just one stroke back after Matsuyama bogeyed the final hole.
This is starting to get real familiar for Schauffele, a 27-year-old Californian who is regarded by his peers as one of the game’s best.
In 2019, he made five birdies in seven holes to briefly tie for the Sunday lead at the Masters before giving way to Tiger Woods. Schauffele finished one shot back in a tie for second, but was largely forgotten in the hoopla over Tiger’s 15th major title.
Schaufele, you might remember, also was in a hunt at the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie until a bogey on the 71st hole ended his hopes. Again, he settled for the runner-up spot.
When they walked off the 11th green, Schauffele was a daunting seven shots behind.
Then, he got hot. And Matsuyama cracked just a bit.
A birdie at the 12th. Two more at the 13th and 14th. When Schauffele managed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the par-5 15th for yet another birdie, his confidence was soaring.
Matsuyama, on the other hand, decided not to lay up at 15, sending his second shot rocketing over the green. It skipped all the way into the pond at 16, leading to a bogey and a two-shot swing for the guys at the top.
Suddenly, it was game on.
“Hideki surprisingly went for the green on 15,” Schauffele said. “I felt like he gave me a little hope there.”
A few minutes later, it was gone.
That same little body of water claimed Schauffele’s ball. Whatever chance he had of winning his first major title went with it.
He’ll try to chalk it up as yet another learning experience.
What choice does he have?
“I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” Schauffele insisted. “I may be tossing and turning, but I’ll be OK.”
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry
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