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4th for McDowell as he misses out on PGA Tour win and Horschel faces Scheffler in WGC Match Play final

Scheffler, a 30th-seeded local hero, edged US 52nd seed Matt Kuchar, the 2013 winner.

Updated Mar 28th 2021, 10:37 PM

BOGEYS IN HIS final two holes proved costly for Graeme McDowell as his hopes of winning the PGA Tour Puntacana Resort & Club Championship slipped away today.

graeme-mcdowell-file-photo Graeme McDowell (file photo). Source: PA

McDowell won this tournament in 2019 but was forced to settle here for a tie for fourth here on 10-under, two shots behind the winner Joel Dahmen.

McDowell looked to be in a strong position on 12-under as he teed off on the 17th but dropped a short on that par three and one on the last, a par five, as he slipped back.

He ended up carding 69 today after some blistering early form saw him shoot 33 on his front nine and then consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th, left him five-under for his round at that juncture. 

Americans Billy Horschel and Scottie Scheffler advanced to tonight’s WGC Match Play final with triumphs earlier today setting up an 18-hole championship duel.

Scheffler, a 30th-seeded local hero, edged US 52nd seed Matt Kuchar, the 2013 winner and 2019 runner-up, 1 up while 32nd seed Horschel defeated French 31st seed Victor Perez 3&2 on a damp and windy morning at Austin Country Club in the Texas capital.

pga-wgc-dell-technologies-match-play-final-day Matt Kuchar congratulates Scottie Scheffler after Scheffler won the semi-fina. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Scheffler, seeking his first US PGA title at age 24 in his WGC Match Play debut, would be the youngest winner of an event he watched while playing for the local University of Texas.

Scheffler, who shared fourth last year in his PGA Championship debut, lives nearby and has often played the course.

Horschel, the 2014 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup playoff winner, seeks his sixth PGA victory and first since the 2018 pairs event in New Orleans with countryman Scott Piercy.

Perez, ranked 33rd, is the top-rated player in the world who is not a US PGA Tour member, but winning the consolation match would give him special temporary membership.

match-play-golf Billy Horschel is congratulated by Victor Perez of France. Source: David J. Phillip

The 28-year-old Frenchman moved to Scotland to be with his dentist girlfriend and has embraced Scottish golf culture living near St. Andrews.

Perez lost the first hole with a bogey but Horschel did the same at the second. The Frenchman sank a five-foot birdie putt at the par-3 fourth to grab the lead but Horschel birdied the next from nine feet to level the match.

Horschel surrendered the par-5 sixth after needing five to reach the green but won the seventh when Perez missed a six-foot par putt as they reached the turn deadlocked.

Perez made back-to-back bogeys, missing a six-foot par putt at the 10th and finding water off the tee at 11, to hand Horschel a 2-up edge.

Perez splashed his second shot at the par-5 12th but still managed to halve the hole, only to miss a birdie putt from just outside five feet at the 14th to fall 3-down with four to play.

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The Frenchman bounced back, dropping his approach inches from the cup to win 15 with a birdie, but Horschel sank a birdie from just outside four feet to win the par-5 16th and close out the match.

In the other semi-final, Scheffler rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th to seize a 1-up edge.

At 18, Kuchar had a birdie putt from just outside eight feet to in the hole and extend the match but missed left. He never made a birdie in the match.

Scheffler made an 11-foot birdie to win the par-4 ninth and an 18-foot birdie putt to capture the par-3 11th for a 2-up advantage, but found water on his approach at the par-5 12th and off the tee at 13 and dropped both holes to square the match.

“I lost focus there,” Scheffler said.

© – AFP, 2021

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