Scottie Scheffler took 71 swing on Saturday at Augusta National, most of them very good. But it was the tee shot on his final hole that seemed a bit unsettling. Scheffler pulled a drive into the pines at the par-4 18th, and after taking a penalty drop, laced an iron just over the green, from where he got up and down for bogey.
After chatting with the various media, Scheffler, who leads the Masters by three shots entering the final round, went to the tournament practice area to hit balls. Scheffler was joined by his longtime coach, Randy Smith, who told a Golf Channel producer prior to their late-evening session that they weren't going to work on anything technical because Scheffler hit too many good shots in Round 3. There was nothing to worry about, "Live From the Masters" host Rich Lerner relayed.
"Live From" analyst Paul McGinley, however, wasn't sold. The victorious Ryder Cup captain expressed concern that the 54-hole leader – the world No. 1 who has won three PGA Tour events in the last two months – was working on his game.
McGinley's thoughts, in full:
"I’d be a little bit worried now. He’s out there, it’s almost pitch dark here. He’s right behind us here, he’s hitting balls. There’s only so much you’re going to earn. His golf has been nearly faultless for the first three days. Let’s not look for a problem that’s not there. I’d be inclined to wash this away.
"I don’t want to question Randy Smith here, because he’s obviously – the guy’s been around the block a long, long time and understands the game. I don’t want to question him in any way. But my point would be, there is a reset coming tomorrow, Scottie, it’s going to be 20 degrees warmer tomorrow, the winds are going down to 5 and 10 mph. Tomorrow is another day. This is about recovery now. It’s been a really tough mental day for you today. Trying to win your first major championship’s not going to be – has not been easy and it won’t be easy. Let’s go and rest up and let’s come back with a fresh eye on a new strategy on what we’re going to do tomorrow. I’d be a little bit worried at this time of the night, out hitting balls and trying to find some technical – fix some technical imperfections there. Because, like I said, I look at a much bigger view on things and I don’t think there’s a whole lot wrong with a guy who’s won three out of five tournaments and is leading a major championship by three shots."
Fellow analyst Brandel Chamblee said that he could understand why Scheffler might want to hit a few balls, coming off a bad tee shot on the final hole.
"You just want to go get that thought out of your head, get something positive to hang your hat on before you sort of shuttle off and call it a night," he said.
Lerner also wondered aloud if there was merit to getting a bad shot out of your system before leaving the property. McGinley said no.
“It’s one swing," McGinley said. "I think he’d be better having a – if he wants to have a glass of wine later on, sitting down in a nice, comfortable chair and just talking through it. In a nice casual way, in a nice environment, after a nice, cold shower and a rub down and all that stuff you need to do afterwards. I think there’s more benefit from that.”