Scottie Scheffler, seeded No. 30 and making his tournament debut, ousted No. 3 seed Jon Rahm of Spain on Saturday, 3 and 1, to earn a spot in the semi-finals at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event in Austin, Texas.
The 24-year-old Scheffler, a former Texas Longhorn who is in his third season on the PGA Tour and has two top-10s this season, went up early, grabbing a 3-up lead after the first five holes. Rahm, the only top-20 seed to reach the knockout stage, got two back with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9, but Scheffler finally pulled away with birdies of his own at Nos. 10 and 12.
He closed the match with a final birdie on 17.
According to the PGA Tour, Rahm’s loss means the semi-finals will not include any of the top-16 seeds for the first time since the event introduced the group-play format in 2015.
Scheffler, who ousted No. 60 seed and 2010 champion Ian Poulter of England in the Round of 16 earlier on Saturday, is just the fourth player to make the semi-finals in his first tournament appearance since Austin Country Club began hosting the event in 2016.
“I felt like I played some really good golf,” said Scheffler. “I think I kept things bogey-free, and I got some early leads and made sure that I kept the pressure on those guys and made them feel like they had to do something special to beat me, which they weren’t able to do.”
He’ll next face No. 52 seed and 2019 runner-up Matt Kuchar.
Kutcher, who advanced to the quarter-finals with a narrow 1-up win over No. 49 seed Jordan Spieth, earned his semi-finals spot with a 2-and-1 win over No. 54 seed Brian Harman. Kuchar never trailed in his match vs. Harman and dropped a clutch birdie at 17 to secure the win.
The win moved Kuchar to second all-time in matches won at the WGC Match Play with 33. Tiger Woods holds the top spot with 36.
“To beat Jordan this morning, I don’t think I led until the 18th hole,” said the 42-year-old Kuchar. “And then Brian is just one of those cagey bulldogs … that it was going to take a great performance by me, and thankfully I had another strong afternoon.”
Also advancing in his tournament debut is No. 31 seed Victor Perez of France, who defeated Spain’s Sergio Garcia, 4 and 3. After going 1-down on the first hole, Perez responded with wins on the next two holes and seized the lead for good with a birdie at No. 6. He finished with a birdie at 15 for the victory.
“I felt like I played my best golf this morning,” said Perez, who beat No. 41 seed Robert MacIntyre of Scotland, 5 and 4, in the quarter-finals. “And obviously Sergio is such a great match player, nothing is going to be given to you. … Very pleased to get on to Sunday.”
Next up for the Frenchman is Billy Horschel, who outlasted No. 21 seed Tommy Fleetwood of England in 19 holes.
Fleetwood took a 1-up lead with a birdie on No. 9 and held the advantage through No. 16 before Horschel’s birdie at 17 tied the match. Horschel made a par on the par-5 12th hole, the 19th hole of the match, to advance.
“I had two really good opponents in Kevin (Streelman) and Tommy, both good ball strikers,” said Horschel, who defeated No. 53-seeded Streelman, 3 and 1 in the quarters. “So I knew they weren’t going to be out of too many holes. … Swing got a little loose on the back end there, but I was able to battle it out and make a couple putts to extend the match when I missed a few putts early on.”
The event started with 64 players divided into 16 groups for round-robin play over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The winner of each group advanced to the weekend, which featured single-elimination format for Saturday’s Round of 16 and quarter-finals. Sunday’s semi-finals, championship and consolation matches are also single-elimination.
Sunday’s semi-final matches:
- Victor Perez (31) vs. Billy Horschel (32)
- Scottie Scheffler (30) vs. Matt Kuchar (52)
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