Friday, April 16, 2021

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Scottie Scheffler delivered the clutch putt to his win match against Matt Kuchar, who didn’t make a putt all day. The result was a third straight all-American final in the Dell Technologies Match Play on Sunday.

Scheffler, the 24-year-old Texas graduate who feels right at home at Austin Country Club, moved on to the championship match Sunday afternoon against Billy Horschel, who knocked out Victor Perez of France with a 3-and-2 victory.

Scheffler holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole, right after Kuchar missed from about 12 feet, to take a 1-up lead to the 18th.

Both drove short of the elevated green on the final hole. Kuchar hit a pitch-and-run to 8 feet, while Scheffler opted for a low, hard pitch with spin that trickled off the back of the green into the fringe about 15 feet away. He missed the birdie putt to win, and it came down to Kuchar making his first birdie putt of the round to force extra holes.

He missed, losing out on a chance to reach the championship for a fourth time. The longest putt Kuchar made in the entire match was from 3 feet, 6 inches on the seventh hole. His lone birdie, from just inside 3 feet, was conceded.

It was the 10th time since this World Golf Championship began in 1999 that two Americans reached the final.

Horschel had never made it to the weekend in his four previous appearances in Match Play. In a cool, raging wind that allowed holes to be won by pars, he seized on the Frenchman’s mistakes early on the back nine and closed him out with a nifty bunker shot to 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 16th.

That match was all square at the turn. Perez bogeyed the 10th to fall behind, and then hit into the water on the par-3 11th, with wind blowing hard off the right and the pin tucked to the front, just in front of the pond. Perez found the water again on the par-5 12th but was able to escape with a halve, and Horschel took command when Perez three-putted the 14th.

“When you play in wind like this, you’ve just got to understand you’re going to hit good shots and not get rewarded for it,” Horschel said. “It wasn’t one of those days when you go out and can make a lot birdies. … I didn’t play anything special. I just played solid golf and let Victor make a few mistakes.”

Scheffler, coming off dominant wins Saturday over Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm, never trailed against Kuchar. It was never easy, either, not with the wind ripping through the trees on a cool morning.

They each won one hole (with pars) until Scheffler hit his approach from 183 yards to a left pin by a ravine to 10 feet for birdie to go 1 up on No. 9. Two holes later — after Kuchar missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 10th that would have squared the match — Scheffler made an 18-foot birdie putt to go 2 up.

But the Texan gave away the next two holes with shots into the water — his approach to the 12th, and then a driver to the 13th that came up about a yard short of the green — and it was back to all square with five holes to play.

It was tight the rest of the way. Scheffler wasted a great opportunity on the 16th when he missed a birdie putt from just inside 10 feet, only to come through with his big putt on the 17th.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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