Updates from Round of 16 and Quarterfinals at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
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Capsule look at all matches from Round of 16 and Quarterfinals at Austin CC
Written by Staff @PGATOUR
After a topsy-turvy, marathon Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, four players remain in contention to chase the title Sunday at Austin CC.
Saturday morning featured eight matches across the Round of 16, with the eight match winners advancing to Saturday afternoon's Quarterfinal round.
The Quarterfinal winners have advanced to Sunday morning's Semifinal matches. Scottie Scheffler will face his good friend Sam Burns in one matchup, with Rory McIlroy pitted against Cameron Young in the other.
Read below to see how the action unfolded on a wild Saturday at Austin CC, as 16 players were whittled down to four.
Cameron Young (15) def. Kurt Kitayama (19), 1-up
Young has seemingly done everything but win at the PGA TOUR level; Kitayama earned his first TOUR title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard earlier this month and has indicated no signs of slowing down. This matchup of two intriguing young talents delivered, all the way to the 18th hole.
After Kitayama's winning birdie at the opening hole, Young took control of the match with three consecutive birdies on Nos. 4-6, winning two of the three holes. Early in the back nine, with Kitayama looking to cut into a 3-down deficit, Young tugged his tee shot at the par-3 11th nearly 30 yards left of the target, but the ball kicked off mounds and rolled to within inches for a tap-in birdie. It was one of the season's more remarkable bounces; all Young could do was smile and shake his head. To his credit, Kitayama responded with a crisp iron to 10 feet and converted the tying birdie to stay 3-down.
From there, the UNLV alum forged a rally, winning the 13th and 14th holes with mid-range birdies, then matching Young's birdie at the par-5 16th to keep pace. Young had 11 feet for birdie to win the match at the par-3 17th, but the putt burned the edge, requiring things to be decided at the short par-4 18th. There, both players found the left rough off the tee; Young better positioned and closer to the green. Kitayama wedged to 40 feet; Young played to 15 feet. Needing heroics to force overtime, Kitayama's birdie try stayed a foot out to the right. With a two-putt par, Young was on to a Sunday morning semifinal showdown with Rory McIlroy.
Cam Young nearly aces No. 11 at WGC-Dell Match Play
Rory McIlroy (3) def. Xander Schauffele (6), 1-up
This was a match fitting of a championship final, with two players in the top-seven in the Official World Golf Ranking squaring off, both on the very top of their respective games.
The short version is that McIlroy never led in the match until he made a birdie from 12 feet on the last hole to win. The long version is that these two carved up Austin Country Club by making 15 birdies combined, with eight coming from McIlroy, who made 17 total on the day where his two matches both reached the 18th hole. Hard to fathom, but McIlroy actually played better in his morning match against Australian Lucas Herbert, where he collected nine birdies. Schauffele had considerably less stress in defeating J.J. Spaun.
Against McIlroy, Schauffele was 2-up after the seventh hole, but the world No. 3 won two of the next three holes to tie it up. Schauffele regained the lead after a birdie on 12, but McIlroy tied it again on the next hole with another birdie. Both players tied 15 and 16 with birdies, tied 17 with pars, then both drove it left off the 18th tee. Schauffele had some tree trouble and McIlroy, who actually hit a worse drive but found a better lie, was able to get up and down from his position 35 yards short and left of the green. He will now face Cameron Young in the semifinals.
“It was a great match,” Schauffele said. “I felt like I definitely had the better of him. I had looks where he didn't and he made putts when I was just kind of waiting around.
“He played well. Made a lot of those pressure 5- to 8-footers that he needed to all day. That's what kind of kept him in it. I didn't capitalize … It was just one of those days.”
Said McIlroy: “I feel like I get more nervous watching my opponent play because you just don't know what they're going to do. You're in no control of what they do. At least with my stuff I'm in control of it, so I sort of feel like not as many nerves.”
Rory McIlroy sinks clutch birdie putt to clinch 1-up win over Xander Schauffele at WGC-Dell Match Play
Scottie Scheffler (1) def. Jason Day (32), 2 and 1
The city of Austin was abuzz at this matchup, with local hero Scheffler -- reigning WGC-Dell Match Play champion, current world No. 1 -- squaring off against former world No. 1 and two-time WGC-Dell Match Play winner Day.
Scheffler was playing on a second lease of sorts, having trailed J.T. Poston 2-down with four holes to play in the Round of 16 before staging a furious rally to win 1-up. Day had bested Matt Kuchar, 1-up, in another closely contested Round of 16 matchup.
Day made three birdies and an eagle in the first six holes in this Quarterfinal matchup, staking a 3-up lead in the process, but as he did in the morning, Scheffler proved himself fully capable of a dynamic rally. It began with a winning par at No. 8, followed by a winning 29-foot birdie at the par-4 ninth to fight back to 1-down at the turn. The next two holes were tied with pars, before Scheffler tied up the match with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 12th.
The former Texas Longhorn was only just beginning, as Scheffler took a bold line on the short, water-logged par-4 13th, executing a fairway metal to 27 feet en route to a winning two-putt birdie. An emboldened Scheffler followed suit with a routine two-putt par to win No. 14, as Day made bogey, and even Day's best efforts of a rally at No. 15 -- a deft short iron and birdie -- were matched by Scheffler to tie the hole. The par-5 16th was tied with conceded birdies, and Day stood 2-down with two holes to play.
Befitting his world No. 1 status, Scheffler sealed the deal at the short par-3 17th, stuffing a wedge to tap-in range for a conceded birdie. Just another anecdote for Scheffler's Austin folklore, as he readies to face good friend Sam Burns in a Sunday morning semifinal.
Scottie Scheffler's near ace clinches 2&1 win over Jason Day at WGC-Dell Match Play
Sam Burns (13) def. Mackenzie Hughes (50), 3 and 2
The first match of the afternoon Quarterfinals was the first match to finish, with Burns punching his ticket to Sunday’s Final Four. Hughes had already ousted Max Homa during a terrific performance in the morning, while Burns topped Patrick Cantlay with equally impressive play.
It was Hughes who sprinted out swiftly against Burns by making a 27-footer for birdie on the first hole, then chipping in for birdie on the second to take a 2-up lead. Burns, a rookie of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play who went 3-0 in group play, was not rattled though and soon made three birdies in a four-hole stretch to gain a 1-up advantage. Burns was 1-up standing on the 15th tee box, but Hughes made bogey there, and then Burns hit his third shot on the par-5 16th to a foot – Hughes drove it in the water there – and what was a close match the whole way was quickly over.
“I think we’ve put a lot of hard work in, and it’s nice to see it showing on the golf course,” Burns said.
“I’m pretty tired right now, so looking forward to getting some sleep tonight.”
Sam Burns sends in 51-footer for birdie to go 1-up at WGC-Dell Match Play
ROUND OF 16
Here's a capsule look at how Saturday morning's Round of 16 matches unfolded at Austin CC.
Mackenzie Hughes (50) def. Max Homa (5), 3 and 2
The first match out Saturday was one that looked like a mismatch on paper as Homa, ranked No. 6 in the world, was 3-0 after group play and had Friday off to rest since Hideki Matsuyama conceded their Day 3 match. But Hughes was riding high after going 2-1 the last three days and defeating Taylor Montgomery in a playoff just to advance. Also overlooked is Hughes’ record in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play where he advanced to the Round of 16 two years ago and last year he went 2-1 but did not advance. His career record is now 7-3-1.
Hughes didn’t play his best in the match against Homa but was steady enough to hang tough while Homa made several uncharacteristic mistakes. Each player made two birdies in the first five holes to remain tied, but Homa made back-to-back bogeys to hand Hughes a lead he’d never relinquish. As the match reached the 16th hole, with Hughes 2-up and playing the hole for the first time all week, Homa drove it into the water and later conceded the hole and the match.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Hughes said. “Max kept the pressure on me. My job was to not give him many holes.”
Sam Burns (13) def. Patrick Cantlay (4), 2 and 1
Burns always looks forward to testing himself against premier players in the game, and world No. 4 Cantlay certainly fits the bill. After a solo sixth at last week's Valspar Championship -- which he won in 2021 and 2022 -- the LSU alum wasted no time in carrying the mojo to Austin, where he advanced to the Round of 16 with an unblemished 3-0-0 record in group play. Cantlay authored the same 3-0-0 record to set up a matchup against his 2022 U.S. Presidents Cup teammate.
The match befitted this distinction, evenly contested throughout. The first four holes were tied with pars, the fifth and sixth holes tied with birdies, and Cantlay made birdie at the par-3 seventh to take a 1-up edge. Burns seized an opening with winning pars at Nos. 10 and 11, as Cantlay stumbled to back-to-back bogeys; this gave the Louisiana native the match advantage that he would not relinquish. Burns moved 2-up with a birdie at No. 14, and after Cantlay drained an 11-foot eagle to win the par-5 16th, Burns answered right back with an 8-foot birdie at the short par-3 17th to win the hole and close the match.
Sam Burns dials in tee shot to set up birdie at win match 2&1 at WGC-Dell Match Play
Jason Day (32). def Matt Kuchar (59), 1-up
This match featured two of the more veteran members of the Round of 16 – Kuchar, the oldest player in the field at 44, against Day, 35, who held the world No. 1 spot in the mid-2010s. With a 2-0-1 mark in group play, Kuchar tied Tiger Woods with 36 match wins overall at this event – no player has won more.
In the final iteration of the WGC-Dell Match Play, Kuchar’s task Saturday morning was simple: defeat Day to advance to the Quarterfinals and take his place ahead of Woods in tournament history. It was tight throughout; Day went birdie-eagle on Nos. 5 and 6 to win both holes and assume a 2-up lead, but Kuchar steadily chipped away and tied the match with a winning 10-foot birdie at the short par-4 13th. The match ultimately swung on the par-5 16th, though, as Day smoked a drive 373 yards down the middle, struck a mid-iron to 15 feet, and two-putted for a crucial winning birdie – as Kuchar could not convert his 7-foot birdie try. The par-3 17th was tied with pars; Kuchar missed the green at the par-4 18th and could not chip in to win the hole and tie the match. Day’s two-putt par was good to advance for a Quarterfinals date with world No. 1 and local hero Scottie Scheffler.
Scottie Scheffler (1) def. J.T. Poston (43), 1-up
The battle between two players who went through the group stage 3-0 lived up to its billing, as Poston had the No. 1 player in the world on the ropes late in the match, until Scheffler did what Scheffler does. After the first 14 holes it was Poston who was more steady, making three birdies to that point with no blemishes on the scorecard. Scheffler, who later said he was not pleased with “too many mental errors,” had made four birdies but also sprinkled in three bogeys.
The fireworks, however, started on the last four holes, with Poston holding a 2-up lead. Scheffler made birdie from 10 feet on 15, two-putted from 40 feet for birdie on 16 and made another birdie from 10 feet on the 17th hole to tie the match with one remaining. Scheffler was in for par on the home hole, leaving Poston with a 6-footer for par to tie the hole and move the match into a sudden-death playoff. But he missed it, and the No. 1 player in the world, PLAYERS champion and defending Match Play champ advances to meet Jason Day.
“I've done a great job over the years in this tournament of staying patient and not trying to force things,” Scheffler said. “I got down, and J.T. is such a fantastic player and putter that he put the pressure on me today and I let it get the best of me, but I was able to finish strong and come out on top.”
Said Poston: “Didn't want to give him any there, but unfortunately gave him a couple down the stretch and ended up costing me. For the most part I played great all week, today included.”
Scottie Scheffler birdies No. 17 to tie match at WGC-Dell Match Play
Xander Schauffele (6) def. J.J. Spaun (61), 3 and 2
After the San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball team secured an upset of No. 1 seed Alabama in the Sweet 16 on Friday night, it was perhaps fitting that two Aztecs would square off in Saturday’s morning Round of 16 in Austin. Both players speak fondly of their days at Viejas Arena, but any residual nostalgia required a quick shift in attention to the task at hand on the course.
The duo did just that; the first hole was tied with birdies, and Schauffele went 1-up with a birdie at the third; the reigning Olympic gold medalist extended his lead to 2-up with a birdie at No. 6. After Spaun’s winning par at No. 9, Schauffele struck right back with a winning 9-foot birdie at the par-4 10th, and Spaun – defending champion of the upcoming Valero Texas Open – could draw no closer. Spaun won the 15th with a birdie to extend the match, but a wayward drive at No. 16 essentially ended matters.
Xander Schauffele rolls in birdie putt to go 3-up at WGC-Dell Match Play
Rory McIlroy (3) def. Lucas Herbert (46), 2-up
The last match on the course was the best match of the session, pitting undefeated players together from the previous three days. McIlroy and Herbert combined to make 16 birdies. SIXTEEN. Five of those 16 came on the last three holes.
The match was tied after six holes, with each man making three birdies to that point, and McIlroy jumped to a 2-up lead after Nos. 9 and 12, but Herbert, playing in his second Match Play, would not roll over and go away. The Australian made birdie from 4 feet on 13, matched birdies with McIlroy on the par-5 16th, then, back against the wall on 17, drained a sliding, winding putt from outside 30 feet that hit the hole, rolled around it and dropped for birdie. McIlroy matched it with a birdie and then closed with one on the last hole to win the hole and the match.
“If you look at the stats over the last three days, Lucas probably played some of the best golf of everyone, so I knew I was in for a tough game,” said McIlroy, who now will face Xander Schauffele. “I got off to a really good start, but every time I hit it in close, he’d answer me with a birdie.
“Again, nine birdies, no bogeys. I needed every one of those birdies to beat Lucas. He played great.”
McIlroy, Herbert trade birdies to extend match at WGC-Dell Match Play
Kurt Kitayama (19) def. Andrew Putnam (56), 6 and 5
This was the penultimate match in the morning but it was the third match of the eight to finish because of such a lopsided margin of victory. Kitayama, in his rookie Match Play appearance, dusted Tony Finau, 4 and 3, on Day 3 to get into a playoff, then outlasted both Finau and Adrian Meronk to advance to Saturday’s Round of 16.
Putnam, playing in his second Match Play, was undefeated in the group stage and ran into an absolute buzzsaw in Kitayama, who made seven birdies in 13 holes. The reigning Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard winner made three birdies in the first four holes, then when Putnam made a double bogey on the par-4 fifth hole and Kitayama followed it with birdie on the sixth, Kitayama was quickly 4-up. Standing on the par-4 13th tee 5-down, Putnam drove it into the water left and short of the green. Moments later, when Kitayama chipped his second shot close, the match was over.
Kurt Kitayama sinks birdie putt to go 5-up at WGC-Dell Match Play
Cameron Young (15) def. Billy Horschel (22), 5 and 4
Young is playing like a man who is annoyed with hearing that he’s the only man left in the championship who has never won a PGA TOUR event. In four day he’s 4-0 and has now collected 24 total birdies and two eagles. He reached the 18th hole once, in his second match against Corey Conners, but none of the other three have seen the last two holes.
Saturday was just more of what we’ve seen from Young already this week – he made six birdies with no bogeys and, as tilted as the result was, it could’ve been worse. Horschel, the 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play champion, defeated Jon Rahm to get into the knockout rounds but was off his game from the start, making two bogeys in the first three holes and ending with six bogeys total, against only three birdies.
“I did play really well and was thankful for the couple mistakes he made early,” Young said. “It's not like Billy to do that. He's one of the most intense guys you'll find out here, and I think – I was totally ready for him to come out of the gates hot, and once he did make those mistakes, there was always a chance he just starts making putts, which is scary. Happy to get that one over with.”