Rory McIlroy says his chip in on the 18th to equal the lowest final-round score in Masters history “is as happy as he has ever been on a golf course”.
McIlroy, 32, made six birdies and an eagle after starting the day 10 shots adrift of the American at Augusta.
“To play as well as I did and finish like that is absolutely incredible,” said the four-time major champion.
“This tournament never ceases to amaze. That is as happy as I have ever been on a golf course.”
Birdies at the first, third, seventh, eighth and 10th, followed by an eagle at the 13th, saw McIlroy charge up the leaderboard and raise hopes of an astonishing comeback in his latest attempt at a career Grand Slam.
They appeared to have faded when he could not improve his score over the following four holes, but a stunning bunker shot from the side of the 18th green sparked wild celebrations and took him within three shots of Scheffler, who was playing the 13th at that stage.
“I have never heard roars like it on the 18th green, it was really cool. It was like the third shot I holed from off the green today. It was a round Seve (Ballesteros) would have been proud of,” McIlroy added.
“I don’t think I’ve ever walked away from this tournament as happy as I am today. I’ve played a really good round of golf, and it’s my best ever finish at Augusta.
“It’s not quite enough, but I’ll certainly look back on this day with very fond memories. It gives me confidence going forward not only into the next Masters next year but to the rest of the season as well.”
McIlroy is still chasing a first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, having previously won the 2011 US Open, 2012 PGA and 2014 Open Championship.
While he may rue several wayward tee shots over the final five holes, and his two rounds of 73 on Thursday and Friday, he can take huge satisfaction from the only bogey-free round of the tournament and the way he lit up the course with an array of sublime shots.
“I got off to a great start today and I kept it rolling,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.
“I knew I needed my best ever score here to at least have a chance. I played a really really good round of golf, and it’s the most fun I’ve had on a golf course in a very long time.”
Sunday’s round was McIlroy’s second-lowest 18-hole score at a major, beaten only by a 63 during the first round of the 2010 Open at St Andrews.
It eclipsed his previous lowest score at Augusta of 65, achieved in 2011 and 2018, plus his previous best finish of fourth in 2015.
“When I birdied one, I thought this could be it today,” McIlroy added.
“I just stayed aggressive and kept hitting good shots and hitting good putts, played smarter on Amen Corner and made my pars and then finished like that.
“I’m getting the hang of this place after 14 years of trying.”