WASHINGTON (AFP) – Billy Horschel defeated fellow American Scottie Scheffler two and one on Sunday (March 29) to win the WGC Match Play Championship and capture his sixth career US PGA title.
Horschel, the 2014 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup play-off winner, chipped in from 43 feet to win the par-four fifth hole and level the final. He went on to win the seventh and ninth with pars and halve the final eight holes at Austin (Texas) Country Club for the victory.
“There’s so much emotion, so many turns of tides,” said Horschel, who ousted Frenchman Victor Perez three and two in a morning semi-final.
“I didn’t play really good. It was a tough day. I had two opponents that didn’t make any putts and I did and that was the difference today.”
Horschel’s first PGA triumph since taking the 2018 pairs event in New Orleans with countryman Scott Piercy came after seven matches over five days and an intense back-nine battle without a stumble by the winner.
“It’s huge,” Horschel said. “I know I’ve won on tour and I feel like I should have won more. I should have at least contended more in some of these WGC events and Majors.”
Local hero Scheffler, seeking his first US PGA title in his WGC Match Play debut, would have been the event’s youngest ever champion at 24.
He watched the tournament while playing at the nearby University of Texas and lives only a 15-minute drive from the course and was cheered by a limited crowd allowed to attend due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“I’m proud of the way I fought all week,” Scheffler said. “My game was trending in the right direction pretty much the entire time. This afternoon was really the first time I didn’t feel like I played my best.
“I grinded it out. I fought really hard and I just wasn’t able to make the putts. I just couldn’t get really get anything going. Did what I could with what I had. It just wasn’t enough.”
Scheffler, the 30th seed, edged US 52nd seed Matt Kuchar, the 2013 winner and 2019 runner-up, one up in the semi-finals.
Scheffler never trailed in beating English Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter and Spanish third seed Jon Rahm in Saturday’s knockout matches.
Kuchar beat Perez two and one in the third-place match, denying the Frenchman special temporary US PGA membership.
Perez, ranked 33rd, is the world’s top-rated player who is not a US PGA Tour member.
“It was anti-climatic,” Kuchar said. “But once you get going, the juices get going and you don’t want to lose. It was a good battle with Victor, but it’s a tough match to be a part of.”
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