Fitting finale for WGC-Dell Match Play

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Sam Burns beat Cameron Young by 6&5 to win the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play title

It was almost the final Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler, ranked no. 3 and no. 1 in the world respectively, did go to head-to-head on Sunday in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but it was in the third-place playoff and not the final.

For a short while it appeared that the tournament, which will be replaced by a new limited field event next year, was going to get its dream finale. Both Scheffler and McIlroy led their semi-finals midway through the back nine. Scheffler had rallied from an early three-hole deficit to take a two-up lead after making four birdies in five hole around the turn. But Sam Burns would birdie the 15th , 16th and 17th to force Scheffler to birdie the 18th to avoid defeat. After Scheffler missed a 4ft putt to win on the 20th , Burns birdied the 21st hole to go through to the final.

 

 

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Likewise McIlroy seemed to have his match in control when he was up two with three holes to go. His opponent, Cameron Young, would birdie 16 and 18 to level the match, then birdied the first extra hole to beat McIlroy.

It was spectacular golf by all four players; a showcase for the best the match play format has to offer. It took something special from Burns and Young to beat Scheffler and McIlroy, respectively. At the same time, it also showcased the worst of the match play format – it’s unpredictability. At this point, Burns vs Young just doesn’t have the same cache as Scheffler vs McIlroy. And watching Scheffler battle McIlroy with third-place on the line instead of a trophy wasn’t as exciting (McIlroy won 2&1). Sure, you wanted to see them but it felt like a bit of a let down. It’s this unpredictability that has always left television executives, PGA Tour officials and even players uneasy about the format.

 

 

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It didn’t help that Burns made eight birdies in 10 holes and cruised to a 6&5 win over Young.

All of which, in a way, made it a fitting finale for the event. There was plenty of thrilling golf and spectacular shots, especially McIlroy’s drive on 18 th in the quarterfinals that carried 350 yards and finished less than four feet from the hole on the par 4. Yet it all felt a bit underwhelming by the end.

 

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One thing is clear though – McIlroy and Scheffler have to be the favourites for the Masters next month.

On a side note, the absence of a match play event on the Tour calendar next year might be an opportunity for LIV Golf to lean further into its team-first approach. If LIV can figure out how to have a couple of events that feature actual team play in a match play format like the Ryder Cup or President’s Cup, it would offer something unique and something clearly different from the PGA Tour.

That might even entice fans to tune in and watch it.

 


Credits:-
Photo – PGA TOUR


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