Scottie Scheffler moves to World No.1 with Match Play win

AUSTIN, TX (AP) — Scottie Scheffler is the hottest player in golf and now has the ranking to prove it.

Six weeks after his first PGA TOUR victory, Scheffler won the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play for his third title in his last five starts, this one enough to move him to No. 1 in the world. He earned 550 FedExCup points and remained atop the standings.

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“I never got that far in my dreams,” Scheffler said in the trophy ceremony before choking up and wiping away tears, a rare show of emotion for the 25-year-old Texan. “I just play golf. I love competing. I’m happy to be out here, you know?”

One year after losing in the championship match, Scheffler never trailed against Kevin Kisner, building a 3-up lead through six holes and giving him no chance to catch up. Scheffler closed him out with a par on the 15th for a 4-and-3 victory.

Scheffler never trailed in the semifinal win over Dustin Johnson or against Kisner — he went the final 57 holes at Austin Country Club without trailing — and he was so solid in the championship match that Kisner didn’t win a hole.

“He’s playing incredible golf,” Kisner said. “I couldn’t get the putter to cooperate.”

So much was going Scheffler’s way that on the par-5 12th, with Kisner looking at a 6-foot birdie, Scheffler didn’t hit his eagle chip hard enough and it rolled down a slope into a bunker. And then he holed the bunker shot for a birdie.

Right when Kisner looked as though he would win his first hole and cut the deficit to 2 down with seven to play, he had to made the 6-footer to keep from losing more ground. But a bogey on the 14th spelled the end for Kisner.

Scheffler, so even-keel on the course, was caught up in the moment when it was over. He won at Austin Country Club, where the Texas Longhorns occasionally practiced. Scheffler earned a business degree in four years without summer school.

Winning should now be familiar. Getting to No. 1? That might explain the tears as he hugged every family member around him.

And then he had nothing to say, laughing as he searched for words.

“I’m pretty worn out right now,” he said.

Scheffler won the WM Phoenix Open six week ago, and followed that with a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at Bay Hill to move to No. 5 in the world. He needed help from Jon Rahm to get to the top. Rahm, who had been No. 1 since July 18, lost in the fourth round in 19 holes to Brooks Koepka. That paved the way for Scheffler to replace him by winning in Austin.

He is the sixth-youngest player to reach No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986.

Scheffler joined Kisner as the only players to win the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play the year after losing in the championship match.

Scheffler had to hold his breath in the semifinals Sunday morning against Dustin Johnson. He seized on Johnson’s worst round of putting to build a 5-up lead through 11 holes, only for Johnson to win the next four holes. Scheffler was 1 up on the par-5 16th when Johnson missed a 4-foot putt, and the match ended on the 17th.

That championship match was never in doubt.

Kisner, who outlasted Corey Conners of Canada in 18 holes in the morning, began with a wedge to 3 feet for birdie. Scheffler followed with a shot to 8 feet and the Texas crowd roared when he made the putt to match birdies.

Kisner lost the second hole with a bogey from a tough lie in the bunker, Scheffler went 2 up with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth and hit a beautiful chip from behind the green on the par-5 sixth to go 3 up.

They halved the next seven holes, each one moving Scheffler closer to the title. He earned $2.1 million for the win and heads to Augusta National as one of the leading favorites.

Conners won the first three holes in the consolation match and beat Johnson, 3 and 1.

Fairways Magazine

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