Scotty Schaeffler’s Masters win is a great moment for New Jersey sports | Politi

Augusta, Georgia — As his son marched to Green Jacket glory at the Masters, Scott Schaeffler recalled the days spent together on New Jersey golf courses that had nothing in common with Augusta National other than the sport itself. I noticed.

He found himself daydreaming about Orchard Hills, a nine-hole track on the campus of Bergen County Community College in Paramus. Scotty Schaeffler’s journey began here. That’s where his father held up his flashlight, and his 5-year-old son hit the ball and swung so much that it left a bruise.

“He used to hit we With a golf ball,” said Scott Scheffler, smiling at the memory. He was a stay-at-home dad with one older daughter swimming in the college pool and two daughters clinging to his waist.

he did the best he could.

“The police kicked us out, we came back in, and the police kicked us out again,” said Scott Scheffler. I said, “Could you take a look?” And he’s like, “Wow. He’s really good at this! Then they won’t bother us anymore.”

The Schaeffler family moved from Montvale to Dallas when Scotty was just six years old. But let’s be clear about this. New Jersey also has every right to claim him as its own person.

The 2022 Masters will be remembered for many things. Tiger Woods returning from a terrible car crash, Rory McIlroy’s magic in a near-perfect final round, and, above all, the steely nerves of the world’s No. 1 player. when he won his first major championship. However, this is the first time a specific rock star from Asbury Park has been named at a champion press conference.

“My dad loved the blues[Springsteen]so I like the blues too,” Scotty Scheffler said, adding that he also listened to a lot of Texas country music. .

Scott Scheffler grew up on Englewood Cliffs and attended St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, where Vince Lombardi began his legendary coaching career. His wife, Diane, grew up in Park Her Ridge, and she was a high school classmate of the late James Her Gandolfini. In fact, she called him Jimmy.

In retrospect, this family has blues, soprano and Lombardi connections and is more than just a turnpike rest stop. What other Jersey credentials do I need?

“He was born in New Jersey, raised in Texas, and has a little bit of both,” said Scott Scheffler. “And that’s a good thing.”

It must have been Sunday afternoon. Schaeffler admitted he had a nervous morning and was ready for the moment that awaited him as his leader at the Masters, despite the world No. 1 ranking and his three wins in the past eight weeks. I was sure it didn’t. He said he “cried like a baby” until his wife Meredith reminded him that the outcome doesn’t affect how much the people in his life love him.

Those people — Meredith, mom and dad, and two of his sisters — were with him every step of the way. They were there when it quickly shrunk to 1. They were there when he holed a ridiculous chip shot for birdie on the third hole, which his caddy, Ted Scott, called “massive.” They were on the back nine when Schaeffler played like he wasn’t a four-stroke lead, but a guy who needed to make up four strokes.

When he was on the fairway of the par-5 15th hole and was in control of the tournament, Scott handed him the 5-iron and told him to go to the green. When his shot landed right behind the putting surface over a water hazard, the gallery couldn’t believe it.

“What the hell did he do?” said one young man.

“He won the Masters, that’s it!”

He walked the 18th hole with a five-shot cushion. To the amazement of the thousands of onlookers who had gathered around the green, he actually needed it. He lost his concentration and missed a few short putts, but Gallery was doing his best. Scotty! Scotty! — to help him regain his composure. He finally landed a double bogey and triumphantly lifted his arms into the air.

Scott Scheffler was rubbing his wife’s shoulder behind the green. He took off his sunglasses and wiped away his tears, once, twice, and thrice. Two weeks before that, Scott said to his son after Schaeffler won his WGC match play. This time, they hugged each other as if they were at a loss for words.

“I’m proud of you, buddy,” said the father. “Congrats.”

Father hugged his son. A few minutes later, 2021 champion Hideki Matsuyama pulled a green jacket over Scott Scheffler’s shoulders. Thanking his family for all the sacrifices they made to make this moment possible, and thanking his parents and sisters for allowing them to enjoy this victory together, he took a few breaths. clogged up.

He was too young to remember all those nights on that 9-hole track in Bergen County where an old man was banging a ball while holding a flashlight. But make no mistake. The journey to this great Masters victory began right here in Jersey.


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To contact Steve Politi: spoliti@njadvancemedia.

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