Scheffler Vs. DJ, Kisner Vs. Conners in WGC-Dell Match Play Semifinals

Scottie Scheffler applied an exclamation point to a day on which he won twice in the WGC-Dell Match Play and advanced to the semifinals at Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas, before the crowd of rabid Lone Star State fans cheering on the former University of Texas star. 

The fifth-seeded Scheffler (pictured) chipped in for an eagle from 91 feet on the 16th hole to finish off No. 42 Seamus Power of Ireland, 3 and 2, in the quarterfinals after turning back No. 12 Billy Horschel, the tournament’s defending champion, 1 up, in a replay of last year’s final in the round of 16 in the morning. 

In the semifinals tomorrow morning, Scheffler will face No. 8-seeded Dustin Johnson, who defeated No. 16 Brooks Koepka, 2 up, in a semifinals battle between two former No. 1 players in the world.  

No. 29 Kevin Kisner, who won this tournament in 2019, will meet No. 36 Corey Conners of Canada in the other semifinal. The final will be played Sunday afternoon.  

“It was a nice, simple pitch onto the green,” said the 25-year-old Scheffler, who has won the WM Phoenix Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational this season to climb to No. 5 in the World Golf Rankings. “I got more energy as the day went on. I didn’t have my best stuff this morning, but I hung in there and I played really good this afternoon. I didn’t really give Seamus many openings. I definitely get nervous. I think if you don’t get nervous out here, there’s probably something a little bit off with you. You probably don’t care that much. I play better with a little bit of nerves. 

“I’m not going to do any research on DJ. I’ve been watching him play for years now and he’s pretty good at golf. It should be a fun battle with him tomorrow. It’s good to see him back in form again and I’m looking forward to battling it out with him.” 

Johnson rallied from 2-down after six holes against Koepka, taking the lead for good with a 27-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole before Koepka conceded D.J.’s short birdie putt on the last. 

In the round of 16, Johnson took out 49-year-old Richard Bland of England—the 54th seeded player and surprise of the week—by again bouncing back from an early 2-down deficit with a 3-and-2 victory. 

“I don’t feel like I’m making a lot of putts,” said Johnson, who won the 2017 WGC-Match Play title. “But I’ve had a lot of good looks, so I think that’s the difference. I’m striking it really well, so I’m giving myself a lot of chances.  

“This afternoon, obviously it was a tough match against Brooks, but I never really gave him any holes. Obviously got 2 down early, but I hit it inside 10 feet the first three holes and was 2 down. He chipped in on No. 1 and made another putt. 

“But never really got frustrated because I just knew I needed to keep hitting good shots, keep getting good looks and I could fight back in the match. That’s what you have to do in match play.” 

Kisner won the first hole against No. 24 Will Zalatoris, the 2020-21 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and was 5-up after 12 holes in coasting to a 4-and-3 victory in their quarterfinals match. Kiz is 12-0 in this tournament after taking a lead. 

In the round of 16, Kisner reversed a 3-down deficit after 14 holes against No. 32 Adam Scott of Australia, finishing birdie-eagle-par-birdie, sinking a seven-foot birdie putt on the last hole to advance to the quarterfinals. 

Since Zalatoris had to go 22 holes to get past No. 25 Kevin Na in the round of 16, Kisner had time to rest up for their quarterfinal match. 

“Put my feet up, rested for an hour or so, and (Zalatoris) had to kind of rush,” said Kisner, referring to Zalatoris’ quick turnaround from the round of 16 to the quarterfinal match. “I’ve been through the other side of it too, so I liked the way I got to relax a little bit. 

“I love the golf course. I love playing head-to-head. I love trying to beat just one guy, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” 

Kisner, who beat Matt Kuchar in the 2019 championship match a year after losing to Bubba Watson in the final, will play Conners in the other quarterfinal. 

Conners defeated No. 15 Abraham Ancer, 2 up, in the quarterfinals, taking the lead for good with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and adding a tap-in birdie on the par-5 15th to go 2 up. After Conners gave one back with a bogey at No. 17, Ancer missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the last and conceded the Canadian’s 12-footer for birdie to end it. 

“I feel like I’ve got great control of my ball tee to green and rolling in putts when I need to, capitalizing on opportunities,” Conners said of his solid play all week.  

After going 0-3 in his WGC-Match Play debut last year, Conners is 5-0 this time. 

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