AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Scottie Scheffler is golf’s most popular player and now he has the rankings to prove it.
Six weeks after his first PGA Tour victory, Scheffler won the Dell Technologies Match Play for his third title in his last five starts, enough to lift him to No. 1 in the world.
“I’ve never gone this far in my dreams,” Scheffler said at the trophy ceremony before choking back tears, a rare display of emotion for the 25-year-old Texan. “I only play golf. I love to compete. I’m happy to be here, you know?
A year after losing in the championship game, Scheffler never trailed Kevin Kisner, building a 3-for-6 lead and never giving him a chance to catch up. Scheffler closed it out with a pair on 15 for a 4-and-3 win.
Scheffler never trailed in the semi-final win over Dustin Johnson or Kisner (he went the last 57 holes at Austin Country Club without being behind) and was so solid in the championship game that Kisner didn’t win a hole.
“He’s playing incredible golf,” Kisner said. “I couldn’t get the putter to cooperate.”
So much was it going in Scheffler’s way that on the par 5 12, with Kisner eyeing a 6-foot birdie, Scheffler didn’t hit his eagle chip hard enough and rolled down a slope into a bunker. And then he pierced the bunker shot for a little bird
Just when it looked like Kisner would win his first hole and cut the deficit to 2 down with seven to play, he had to make the 6-footer to keep from losing ground. But a bogey on the 14th spelled the end for Kisner.
Scheffler, so balanced on the course, was caught the moment it was over. He won at Austin Country Club, where the Texas Longhorns occasionally practiced. Scheffler earned a business degree in four years without summer school.
Winning should now be familiar. Get to number 1? That could explain the tears as she hugged all the family members around her.
And then he had nothing to say, laughing as he searched for words.
“I’m pretty exhausted right now,” he said.
Scheffler won the Phoenix Open six weeks ago and followed it up with a win at Bay Hill to move up to World No. 5. He needed Jon Rahm’s help to get to the top. Rahm, who had been No. 1 since July 18, lost in the fourth round in 19 holes to Brooks Koepka. That paved the way for Scheffler to replace him by winning the Match Play.
He is the sixth-youngest player to reach No. 1 since the world rankings began in 1986.
Scheffler joined Kisner as the only players to win the Match Play the year after losing in the championship match.
Scheffler had to hold his breath in Sunday morning’s semifinals against Dustin Johnson. He took advantage of Johnson’s worst round of putting to build a 5-in-11 lead, only for Johnson to win the next four holes. Scheffler was up 1 on the par-5 16 when Johnson missed a 4-foot putt, and the match ended on the 17th.
That championship match was never in doubt.
Kisner, who edged Canada’s Corey Conners over 18 holes in the morning, started with a 3-foot wedge for birdie. Scheffler followed with a shot to 8 feet and the Texas crowd roared as he putted to match the birdies.
Kisner bogeyed the second hole on a tough lie in the bunker, Scheffler went up 2 with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth and hit a beautiful chip behind the green on the par-5 sixth to go. 3 up
They halved the next seven holes, each bringing Scheffler closer to the title. He earned $2.1 million for the win and heads to Augusta National as one of the top favorites.
Conners won the first three holes of the consolation match and beat Johnson, 3 and 1.
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