2024 Players Championship leaderboard: Scottie Scheffler becomes first back-to-back winner at TPC Sawgrass

The 50th edition of the Players Championship saw a tournament first as Scottie Scheffler claimed the PGA Tour’s flagship event for the second straight season. It was a one-stroke victory for Scheffler, whose 20 under score bested 54-hole leader Xander Schauffele, 36-hole leader Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman.

The world No. 1 became the first player to successfully defend his Players Championship title, and he needed to come from five back on Sunday to do it. He tied the largest 54-hole deficit overcome en route to winning, and Scheffler’s 64 on Sunday tied the lowest final-round score from a Players Championship winner (Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Jack Nicklaus).

Prior to Scheffler’s successful defense, the best finish by the defending champion was T5, most recently accomplished by Hal Sutton in 2001.

Scheffler is also the first player since Tiger Woods in 2001 to win The Players Championship a week after winning emerging victorious on the PGA Tour, according to Justin Ray. He is also the fourth to win at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass in the same season, joining Tom Kite (1989), Woods (2001, 2013) and Jason Day (2016).

The most predictable man in golf experienced one of the most unpredictable tournaments of his career. Dealing with a neck injury that started ailing him during the second round, Scheffler did well just to enter the final round within arm’s reach of Schauffele.

“I was hoping to be in this position,” said Scheffler. “Yesterday — I put up a good fight for four days. That’s really all there was. Teddy [Scott] kept me in a good head space out there. We had a great finish yesterday, and then got off to a slow start today, but then the hole-out on 4 kind of propelled us a little bit, and hit a lot of good shots today, did a lot of good things this week.”

Making three straight pars out the gate, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year jump started his round with a hole-out from 82 yards on the par-4 4th for an eagle. He added a birdie on his next hole before nice conversions from outside 10 feet on Nos. 8-9 to turn in 5-under 31, pulling even with Schauffele and Clark.

Back-to-back tap-in birdies on Nos. 11-12 saw Scheffler tie Schauffele once again at 19 under. He appeared keen on keeping the birdie train rolling when he threw his tee shot on the par-3 14 to 4 feet, but Scheffler was unable to convert.

Coolly navigating the difficult 14th and 15th, Scheffler added his eighth birdie of the round on the par-5 16th to grab the lead all to himself. He secured par on the 17th and had eyes on one more birdie on the closing hole after finding the fairway.

Scheffler’s approach took an odd hop and settled 16 feet away. One last birdie conversion would have all but clinched the trophy, but when his putt slipped by, the door remained open for the chasing pack as he posted 20 under.

Harman made his move with a birdie on No. 15 to get within one, but a wayward drive on No. 16 handcuffed the Champion Golfer of the Year on the easiest hole on the back nine. He arrived at the 18th needing birdie to tie the clubhouse lead, but Harman failed to convert from 17 feet and join Scheffler at 20 under.

Only two men remained with a chance to track down the game’s top player. Both Schauffele and Clark made it difficult on themselves with dropped shots on No. 14. Schauffele added another bogey on No. 15 to fall two off Scheffler’s pace but quickly rebounded with a birdie on No. 16.

Clark joined Schauffele with a birdie on the 16th and stepped to the 17th one day removed from his chunked wedge shot that found a watery grave. The U.S. Open champion more than made amends when his tee shot settled 4 feet from the traditional Sunday pin location to set up his second straight birdie to get within one of Scheffler.

Schauffele’s tee shot settled just outside Clark’s ball, but unlike his playing partner, Schauffele was unable to make his birdie putt. The two came to the par-4 finisher both needing birdie to tie Scheffler. Schauffele did not give himself a good look while Clark faced the same 17-footer Harman missed just prior.

Clark’s putt came as close as it could come without dropping. Horeshoeing hard around the hole and out, the birdie bid fell by the wayside and gave Scheffler another slice of history at The Players Championship.

Source: CBSSports

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