Scheffler tops European stalwarts in Match Play

AUSTIN, Texas — Scottie Scheffler by no means will get too far forward of himself, a outstanding trait for a 24-year-old in solely his second yr on the PGA Tour and significantly useful in an emotionally-charged format just like the Dell Applied sciences Match Play.

Nonetheless, he was not oblivious to what he confronted Saturday in opposition to Ryder Cup stalwart Ian Poulter within the fourth spherical after which Spanish dynamo and world No. 3 Jon Rahm within the quarterfinals.

Scheffler mowed down each of them with a few of his greatest golf, making 15 birdies in 31 holes – a 5-and-4 victory over Poulter and a 3-and-1 win over Rahm – to succeed in the semifinals.

“I used to be excited to play these guys at the moment,” Scheffler stated. “I’ve watched Ian approach too many instances on TV simply beat the crap out of us within the Ryder Cup. I simply have reminiscences of me and my dad sitting on the sofa and watching this man make putt after putt. So it was good to get one on him, at the least for me.”

The victory over Rahm despatched Scheffler, a Texas graduate and now the gang favourite at Austin Nation Membership, into the semifinals in opposition to Matt Kuchar, who beat Jordan Spieth within the morning and Brian Harman within the afternoon.

Billy Horschel made it three People within the semifinals for the second time within the final three journeys to Austin. He by no means led in opposition to Tommy Fleetwood till the Englishman despatched his tee shot out-of-bounds on their first additional gap on the par-5 twelfth. Horschel will face Victor Perez of France, who beat Sergio Garcia in 15 holes.

Scheffler retains saying he’s trending in the precise course. He has gone 41 holes with out making a bogey. And he introduced his greatest golf in opposition to two of Europe’s greatest on this format.

“It would not matter who I am enjoying. I am treating every match the identical,” Scheffler stated. “However I feel typically you have to deliver a little bit completely different perspective, and I knew I needed to deliver my greatest stuff at the moment, not likely giving both of these guys a lot respiration room. I did my greatest to try this.”

Kuchar is the one participant to win each match this week, and people 5 victories give him 33 on this match, second solely to the 36 matches gained by Tiger Woods.

He gained the Match Play in 2013 and misplaced within the championship match final time to Kevin Kisner. It is a huge turnaround for the 41-year-old with the graying goatee. He had gone greater than a yr since his final high 10, fell out of the highest 50 for the primary time in additional than a decade and now feels rejuvenated after a 1-up win over Spieth and a 2-and-1 win over Harman.

“I am unable to inform you how good I really feel proper now,” Kuchar stated. “I really feel like I am nonetheless floating.”

Scheffler was so robust within the morning that Poulter by no means gained a gap because the Texan made seven birdies in 14 holes. Poulter holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the eleventh gap and seemed to chop the deficit to 2 down, just for Scheffler to gap a chip from behind the inexperienced.

“You possibly can inform by the look in his eye that he wasn’t giving in in any respect. He was simply ready for a spark,” Scheffler stated. “One other nice putt on 11 and I form of stole one once more and actually simply saved the momentum on my facet.”

Within the quarterfinal match, Rahm fell 3 down when his strategy to the par-5 twelfth discovered the water. As traditional, the Spaniard mounted a cost. Rahm ran off 4 straight birdies — and he solely picked up one gap.

Scheffler matched him on the thirteenth and made a 10-foot birdie after Rahm chipped in on the 14th.

“That was a giant one,” Scheffler stated. “I used to be standing there greenside and that was form of the second. It was form of his do-or-die second for the spherical, and I had a sense he was going to hit a very good shot and it occurred to go in. And I knew I needed to roll that one in to maintain issues in verify.”

Fleetwood had gone 67 straight holes — beginning with the seventeenth gap Wednesday — through which he by no means trailed. However after he missed a 12-foot birdie putt for the win on the 18th gap, they headed to the par-5 twelfth. Fleetwood went out-of-bounds, and the very best he may handle was a bogey.

That just about was sufficient.

Horschel went extremely conservative with Fleetwood out-of-bounds. He laid up in need of the water, hit a wedge 30 ft by the outlet, left his birdie putt 5 ft brief. He needed to make that testy putt for the win.

Horschel had by no means made it to the weekend at Match Play in his 4 earlier appearances. Now he faces Perez, the one participant who hasn’t reached the 18th gap in any of his matches, 4 wins and a loss in group play.

Kuchar was lucky to make it by means of the morning. Spieth by no means trailed and wasted an opportunity to go 1 up on the par-5 sixteenth gap. Kuchar was in grass so thick proper of the green that he requested the marshal to let followers below the rope to assist him discover his ball. Then, he was given aid from a scoreboard in his line of the flag.

He scrambled for par, and Spieth missed a 6-foot birdie putt. Kuchar gained on the 18th gap in what amounted to a chipping contest. Spieth went 30 ft lengthy, Kuchar was 6 ft brief, and Kuchar gained with a birdie.

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