(Reuters) – Just as Scottie Scheffler’s meteoric recent rise to world number one perhaps caught some casual golf observers by surprise, so too his record five-shot halfway lead at the Masters is sure to raise some eyebrows.
But if any confirmation was needed that the sport has a new breakout superstar, Scheffler provided it with a five-under-par 67 on Friday that was almost frightening in how easy he made it look.
Treating a stiff breeze with something close to disdain he combined power, precision and imagination, summoning his inner Bernhard Langer in a five-under-par 67 that left everyone in his Augusta National wake.
With the day’s best score, Scheffler matched the record five-shot 36-hole lead held by Jordan Spieth (2015), Raymond Floyd (1976), Jack Nicklaus (1975) and Herman Keiser (1946), who all went on to win.
“I thought even par was going to be a really good score. I just wanted to get off to a decent start,” he said.
And though the 25-year-old bogeyed the difficult first and third holes, he avoided any major damage on the most difficult stretch of the course.
“My tee shot on seven changed my day, put it in the fairway, (made birdie) and took it from there,” he said, revealing that he had tried to plot his way around in the way two-time champion Bernhard Langer has done for so many years.
“I feel like I’m constantly learning about this place,” said Scheffler, who posted top-20 finishes in his previous two appearances.
Three wins on the PGA Tour in the past couple of months are all well and good, but this weekend will be his sternest test.
Nothing so far suggests he will not seize it with authority.
“I’ve prepared for a long time to be in moments like this,” Scheffler said.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Richard Pullin)