BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler stood in the eighth fairway at The Country Club and waited for his ball to stop rolling. When it did, he took a few steps to his left and tried for a third time to summit the false front protecting the pin.
Instead of a long putt for eagle and a chance to build on his lead in the final round of the U.S. Open, Scheffler made a short one to save par. And when he finished one stroke behind winner Matt Fitzpatrick on Sunday, it wasn’t hard to find the shots that cost him.
“This week I hit some of the worst shots I’ve hit in my career, and I’ve hit some of the best ones,” said Scheffler, the world’s top-ranked player and reigning Masters champion.
He closed with a 3-under 67 to tie for second with Will Zalatoris.
“It was kind of a roller coaster week,” he said, though he could have been talking about the eighth hole alone. “To be at the end was definitely a lot of fun. Unfortunately, just came up one shot short.”
Scheffler had quite a ride on the 560-yard, par-5 eighth, making back-to-back birdies in the first two rounds and holing a fairway iron for an eagle Saturday.
But in the final round, with the tournament lead, he hopped his approach to about 20 feet from the pin and watched it make a U-Turn and roll back toward him. On his second stab at the green, he again hit the false front and wound up two yards farther away than where he started.
A 25-year-old Dallas transplant, Scheffler put his fourth shot — and third attempt at the green — about 6 feet from the hole to save par. He made the turn with the lead, but after back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine, Scheffler was alone in third.
“I played good golf, but it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “There’s definitely a few things I could have done differently, but I’m not going to waste time thinking about it. I’m going to recover from this and move on and hopefully be better from here.”
Scheffler teed off on No. 10 alone at 6 under, but Fitzpatrick had joined him by the time he lined up his second shot on the 503-yard par 4. Scheffler yanked his approach over the green into a bunker on the far side, rolled by the lip of the cup on his third shot and missed a 13-foot par putt coming back.
Now trailing by one and tied for second with Zalatoris, Scheffler landed on the green at the 119-yard 11th hole, with a 40-foot birdie putt for a share of the lead. He missed that, then circled the lip on his 3-foot par putt.
“I look at those bogeys on 10 and 11 and really didn’t hit a bad shot,” he said. “Hit a lot of good shots (on No. 10) and walk away with 5. On 11, … it was a really hard par. After that, I just kept trying to keep plugging along and hit good shots.”
With the leaders two groups behind, Scheffler made a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to move back to 5 under — into second place alone, one stroke behind Fitzpatrick. A 25-footer for birdie on No. 18 that would have forced the playoff rolled inches to the left of the hole.
There is some consolation: With his $1,557,687 check, Scheffler has earned $12,896,849 this year and set a PGA Tour record for official money in a season — even with another major and the tour’s postseason still to come.
The previous record was Jordan Spieth, who won $12,030,465 in 2015.
Scheffler, who won the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur and was the “Phil Mickelson Freshman of the Year” at Texas, is now a U.S. Open runner-up, like Mickelson (who has done it six times).
Scheffler had been trying to be the first player to win two majors in one year since Brooks Koepka in 2018. He was also aiming for the fifth win of his career — all of them in the past four months.
“I just played some quality golf. It just so happened the putts were going around the edge instead of in,” he said. “A few breaks here or there, and I would be the one holding the trophy.”
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