AUGUSTA – The last time Scottie Scheffler slept on a 54-hole Masters lead – just two springs ago – he woke up in a puddle of doubt.

“I don’t feel like I’m ready for this,” he told his wife.

“I just felt overwhelmed,” he said.

The fact that Scheffler confessed all these dark emotions just hours later during the 2022 Masters champion’s press conference was a hint that he had recovered his wits pretty quickly.

When Scheffler arises this Sunday and considers his one-shot lead after three quarters of the current Masters, he should feel quite different.

For one thing, his wife Meredith won’t be around to verbally slap some sense into him this time. She’s back home in Texas on the brink of having their first child. Some may say that she is the last best chance for the rest of this field, since Scheffler has promised to pick up in mid-swing if necessary and leave should she unexpectedly go into labor.

That jet is still revving on the runway. “I definitely have a way to get home pretty quickly,” he said at the close of his round Saturday. Scheffler’s pursuers would be happy to chip in for the gas.

For another thing, Scheffler has grown a lot more comfortable with this whole king-of-the-golfing-world thing. Light is the head that wears the crown.

In 2022, Scheffler was new to the winning habit and the No. 1 world ranking that came with it. It was all so much, so soon for a simple guy who was still driving the 2012 Yukon his pops bought him. That new-domination smell has worn off by now.

“Meredith and I were just a little bit emotional about what was going on at the time because our lives were changing at a very rapid pace,” Scheffler said. “Now I think we have settled more into where our lives are at, and right now the most exciting thing is not winning the Masters, it’s a baby coming pretty soon.”

It was a quietly dead certain Scheffler who went in one end of the wringer of Saturday’s back nine with the rest of the contenders and came out the other end a little less flattened than the rest.

For a while there in Saturday’s third round, it looked as if he wanted to spot the field a couple strokes just to keep things interesting. The slim lead he held at the turn went pfffft when his approach to the par-4 10th skittered off the back of the green, down a grassy off-ramp into the pine straw. Rescue wasn’t an option. The terrain took his punch shot 60 feet below the hole, from where he 3-putted for double bogey.

That was followed by a missed 5-foot par-saving put on No. 11. For about 20 minutes there, someone had replaced the guy who has two wins and a second in his last three tournaments with somebody’s uncle who was a last minute replacement at your charity scramble.

But now it was Augusta National slapping some sense into him. A rebooted Scheffler is a dangerous Scheffler. And the two par-5s on the back awaited.

First he saved par from the back of the green on the par-3 12th. Then ripped a 317-yard drive to the bend of the par-5 13th, followed by a most useful approach to the green. When he dropped a 31-foot putt for eagle the reserved Scheffler let loose with a large fist pump and a surprisingly big, “C’mon, baby.” For him, that was the equivalent of tearing off his shirt and twerking over the hole.

“That’s why I think you saw a bit of emotion there from me on 13 because it was an important time in the tournament,” Scheffler said. “And it was nice kind of turning my Saturday around.”

He did the turnarounds better than anyone else Saturday. He performed a routine looking up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 15th. And when a bogey on 17 dropped him back into a tie for the lead, there was only one proper response on the final hole: Middle of the fairway, approach to 8 feet and then fist pump over another birdie.

At 7-under, he’ll come to work Sunday with a two-time major winner – Collin Morikawa – on his tail one stroke back. Also in the mix are a couple fellows who are aching to break through. In third at 5-under is Max Homa, with Ludvig Aberg one back of that.

It just seemed inevitable that Scheffler would be at the point on this Masters Sunday. No surprise to anyone.

Which made the quote coming out of Phil Mickelson Saturday even more ridiculous. A three-time Masters champ turned shameless shill for LIV, Mickelson was assessing another of Scheffler’s pursuers, fellow LIVer Bryson DeChambeau (3-under). Pure balderdash followed. Mickelson labeled DeChambeau “clearly one of the best, if not the best player in the world.”

Not in any world where they play 72 holes with a full roster of real golfers.

The actual best player in the world planned to spend Saturday night in the company of friends he imported to help fill the void in the absence of his wife. “They came over (Saturday) morning, made some breakfast and we hung out. It will just be more of that tomorrow,” Scheffler said. “Probably call Meredith and chill and relax.”

Scheffler and the lead are growing so very comfortable with one another.