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Underdogs rule the day in the wonderful, wacky WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play


Austin doesn’t take its unofficial motto calmly.

Or its golf.

So in conserving with its quirky host metropolis, the World Golf Championship-Dell Technologies Match Play has saved it bizarre. And extremely aggressive.

And to play off a latest fashionable PGA Tour slogan, it’s been weirder than most.

In this match’s transient five-year historical past, there hasn’t been a extra unorthodox Dell Match Play occasion than this one, and that’s even with the weird high quality that match play tournaments can usually function.

How bizarre has it been?

So odd that six of the eight quarterfinalists had been seeded thirtieth or decrease.

It didn’t get any extra regular Saturday.

And Texas’ Scottie Scheffler, who has but to win on the PGA Tour, knocked off third-seeded and former No. 1 in the world Jon Rahm 3 and 1 late Saturday, and Thirty first-seeded Frenchman Victor Perez downed Sergio Garcia 4 and three to turn into the first golfer to clinch a spot in Sunday’s semifinals.

Get this:

Gone by the weekend had been 18 of the prime 20 gamers in the world, together with No. 1 Dustin Johnson, No. 2 Justin Thomas and just about each different sizzling golfer you care to call. At No. 30, Scheffler is the highest remaining seed in the subject.

Ian Poulter shot a Saturday spherical of three below par. And misplaced.

Poulter was additionally decked out in a lilac shirt and pink pants. OK, in order that’s extra the norm. Nothing to see there.

Three-time main champion Jordan Spieth superior to the spherical of 16 for under the second time in 5 years and failed to maneuver on, whereas Scheffler, who’s nonetheless looking for his first PGA Tour win in his two years, retains on taking part in by. He’s been so dominant, he didn’t path for a single gap towards Rahm and on the day made 15 birdies in 31 holes.

South African Dylan Frittelli, one other Texas ex, was the final entrant into the subject of 64 and first to advance however by no means received right into a groove Saturday morning and fell decisively to Tommy Fleetwood 4 and three.

Dylan Frittelli

Dylan Frittelli

Dylan Frittelli hits from the No. 3 tee throughout a third-round match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. (Photo: David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

As for Fleetwood, Mr. Calm buried an ace on the par-3 fourth gap Saturday. And didn’t even react. Or was {that a} yawn? Talk about lacking out on a photograph op.

Of the eight gamers who received their early Saturday matches and moved into the closing eight, six had been seeded thirtieth or worse, and Matt Kuchar (52) and Brian Harman (54) had been in the final dozen gamers ranked.

But the final two Dell winners had been seeded forty eighth (Kevin Kisner in 2019) and thirty fifth (Bubba Watson in 2018), in order that’s one other sample which may proceed. They’re all good.

On Saturday, Watson birdied 4 of his first six holes and led 4 up after 5 holes. And misplaced.

Harman, who eradicated Watson in an all-Georgia Bulldog, all-lefty confrontation, did the honors with eight birdies in a row. It would have been an eye-popping 9, however his 19-foot providing on the 14th inexperienced wanted another ball rotation.

“It’s nice to get the best of him today,” Harman mentioned of Watson, “because I think he’s about 10-0 against me.” Make that 10-1.

List

WGC Match Play: Who reached the Final Four (and how did they get there)?

Spieth birdied the first two holes, then scuffled along with his placing the remainder of the day for the most half, leaving almost each curler brief. His four-year drought continues, however he’ll have one other likelihood in the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio subsequent week, his final tuneup earlier than the Masters.

Thirteen main champions confirmed up at Austin Country Club on Monday. Only Sergio Garcia remained late Saturday, and he fell to obscure however gifted Frenchman Victor Perez, the Thirty first seed.

If it was unusual, it was going to occur this week.

We received hail Wednesday night time.

Bryson DeChambeau on Friday ricocheted a tee shot at No. 10 off an oak tree limb and onto the adjoining placing inexperienced.

Heck, Dustin Johnson even got a lecture from Kevin Na on golf etiquette Friday.

That’s the way it went.

Upsets dominated the week, which is the magnificence — and the chew — of match play.

That strangeness pattern continued Saturday when Spieth, who has regained his kind this season, bowed out of the competitors towards Kuchar, a former WGC champion and the 2019 finalist to winner Kevin Kisner, on the pivotal 18th gap. But second-year Tour participant and former fellow Longhorn Scheffler, who’s going to win a significant or two sometime, stays in the subject by reaching the semifinals.

Scheffler continued his weeklong tear. And he’s been battle-tested however by no means trailed for a single gap towards Rahm.

He’s been dominant with crisp, correct drives and excellent placing, and he’s taking part in stress-free in group play.

He by no means trailed a single gap in his opening-round victory over 2016 Dell champion Jason Day both and was by no means farther behind than 1 down towards Andy Sullivan. Scheffler was pushed to the restrict by Xander Schauffele, 3 down after 13, however he received three of the subsequent 5 holes to prevail

To even advance to the quarterfinals, Scheffler needed to maintain off Poulter, a match-play machine, 5 and 4. The former Longhorn placed on a clinic Saturday, staying aggressive and forcing the Englishman to attempt to sustain.

“I kept the intensity up all day,” Scheffler mentioned. “You could tell by the look in his eye that he wasn’t giving in at all. He was just waiting for a spark.”

Poulter had his possibilities however by no means may come up for air.

It was so irritating for Poulter that he rolled in long-distance putts of 42 and 35 toes on the again 9. And halved each holes. That’s how clutch the dynamic Scheffler has been.

Scheffler was final yr’s PGA Tour rookie of the yr for a purpose and is likely to be closing in on his first victory.

So it wasn’t shocking when he was locked in a battle with the third-seeded Rahm, the solely prime seed in the 16 teams to advance to the knockout phases on the weekend, and led 2 up by 11 holes of their quarterfinal match. The Spaniard was additionally the solely one among the prime 20 ranked gamers to maintain taking part in. The new norm, if you’ll.

“That shows, I mean, at this stage of the tournament nobody is giving it to you,” Rahm mentioned. “You have to win it.”

Nothing unusual about that.

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