World’s very best prepare to send the WGC-Match Play off ideal Sunday at Austin CC

AUSTIN, Texas – As swansongs go, this is about as fitting as any one with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play could have hoped for.

With two of the major 4 seeded players, Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay, headed household ahead of the quarterfinals and a finicky format, the final Match Play could have been a true dud.

Take into consideration that this occasion gave the golf planet Jeff Maggert, Andrew Magee, John Huston and Steve Pate for the final 4 in its 1st edition in 1999. With a monsoon of respect for all 4 players, they have been the 24th, 50th, 27th and 61st seeded players that week, respectively, at La Costa Resort in southern California.

By comparison, Sunday’s dance card at Austin Nation Club is filthy with prospective with planet No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and No. three Rory McIlroy headlining the semifinal bouts.

McIlroy’s play has been especially inspiring this week thanks to a higher-profile switch to a shorter shaft in his driver, which developed the week’s most-talked-about shot when he hit his drive to four feet on the par-four 18th hole Thursday for a stroll-off victory. But if his driver is accountable for an avalanche of social media buzz, it was his putter that delivered his spot in the final 4.

In a match against Xander Schauffele that integrated nine lead alterations, McIlroy rolled in clutch putts of eight feet (par) at No. 11, 20 feet (birdie) at No. 15 and 12 feet (birdie) at No. 18 to close out the match.

“If you would have told me that I’d make 17 birdies [in two matches] these days and nevertheless get to the 18th hole twice I’m not positive I would have believed you,” McIlroy smiled.

It is a testament to the level of play he faced that each of McIlroy’s knockout matches went the distance. In the morning bout it was Lucas Herbert, who was six below par and pushed the Northern Irishman with birdies at two of his final 3 holes. Schauffele was also six below and held the lead late into the match.

“It was a good match,” Schauffele mentioned. “I felt like I surely had the improved of him. I had appears exactly where he did not and he created putts when I was just type of waiting about. He played nicely. Created a lot of these stress five- to eight-footers that he required to all day.”

Scheffler, this week’s defending champion, was just as dynamic on Saturday. He closed his morning match against J.T. Poston early with birdies at 3 of his final 4 holes and went 5 (birdies) of six to close out his matinée against Jason Day, two and 1, and advance to the semifinals for the third time in 4 begins at the Match Play.

“I had a definitely great back nine. When you get three down, that is what you have got to do. Quite proud of that work there on the back nine and my finish,” Scheffler mentioned.

Scheffler, the runaway crowd preferred immediately after obtaining played his college golf at the University of Texas, will face Sam Burns in the final 4. Even though the planet No. 1 really should have the benefit, the final time the two went head-to-head in Texas it didn’t go Scheffler’s way.

At final year’s Charles Schwab Challenge, Burns started the final round seven shots off the lead but closed with a 65 and beat Scheffler on the 1st playoff hole. The two promptly attended the similar wedding immediately after that showdown and are frequent practice round partners. They’re also wildly competitive each on and off the course.

“I’ve been taking him on my group in pickleball lately. Ordinarily when he gets on the other group I will beat him quite handy in that a single, so pickleball for me is not significantly of a challenge,” Scheffler laughed. “The match tomorrow is going to be a lot tougher than me beating him in pickleball.”

McIlroy will play Cameron Young in the other semifinal, and offered the randomness of match play a Rory vs. Scottie final is far from preordained. The thought that the major-seeded players are destined to play every single other is quite significantly a misnomer – significantly like Lake Austin, which is, in truth, not a lake at all, it is the Colorado River.

But immediately after 5 rounds the stars are clearly aligned and McIlroy, the 2015 Match Play champion, understands the significance at the final WGC-Match Play.

“Winning the Match Play is generally a enormous accomplishment due to the fact of what you have to go by way of,” McIlroy mentioned. “Yeah, possibly a greater sense of satisfaction when you get by way of on Sunday evening and you happen to be capable to win. I really feel like it really is possibly just additional of an achievement mentally to do it rather than just winning a 4-round stroke-play occasion.”

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