SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER ADVANCED
PLAYOFF: SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER def. MATT FITZPATRICK on sixth extra hole
Having lost decisively in the morning, 5 and 4, Matt Fitzpatrick had to regroup for a playoff against the opponent who had found him, and he gave Scottie Scheffler all he could handle. The two had to go six holes to decide a winner, tying a playoff record in the current Match Play format. Scheffler’s 5-footer for birdie at the par-5 sixth was enough to win the match after Fitzpatrick’s attempt from 14 feet fooled him, drifting off right.
Scheffler and Fitzpatrick hit some terrific shots in the playoff. Scheffler drove the green at the 342-yard fifth, but Fitzpatrick, who chips cross-handed, answered with a clutch downhill chip to 3 feet to set up birdie. After a poor first putt, Scheffler had to recover quickly and make from 6 feet to stay alive.
Scheffler (2-1) will take on Billy Horschel on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Match Play final, won by Horschel.
“Billy is a great competitor,” Scheffler said. “He got the best of me here last year, and I got the best of him at Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Scheffler won earlier this month). Should be a fun match tomorrow.”
SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER (2-1-0) def. MATT FITZPATRICK (2-1-0), 5 and 4
Scheffler, a Match Play finalist in his debut a year ago, needed to win to stay alive in his group and got off to the ideal start, jumping out to a 3-up advantage after six holes. He nearly aced the par-3 fourth (3 feet) and won the sixth when Fitzpatrick tugged a drive left, next to an out-of-bounds fence. He scrambled for par, but Scheffler got up-and-down for birdie. A key turnabout came at the ninth: Fitzpatrick hit his approach to 11 feet, looking to cut into Scheffler’s 3-up lead. Scheffler was 29 feet away, facing a downhill, right-to-left putt. He rolled it in, and Fitzpatrick missed, Scheffler stretching his cushion to 4 up. Scheffler ended the match with birdies at the 13th and 14th holes. Both players finished group play at 2-1-0.
Scheffler: “I didn’t really make any mistakes. I took advantage of a few mistakes he made early. He got a really bad break on our second hole (which Scheffler won with a par), and after that I started cruising and played some good golf.
IAN POULTER (1-2-0) def. TOMMY FLEETWOOD (1-2-0), 4 and 3
After two opening losses, match play’s Postman (he always delivers) broke through on Friday, making sure he did not exit Austin without at least one match victory. Poulter defeated his fellow Englishman pretty handily, never trailing in the match. Leading 1 up through four holes, Poulter went on a bit of a tear, starting the run with a pitch-in for eagle from behind the front right bunker at the 342-yard fifth hole. He birdied the par-5 sixth, won the eighth with a par, and when he rolled in a 16-foot birdie at the ninth, he was 4 up. Fleetwood made a nice birdie at the par-3 11th, but it was just a matter of time until Poulter closed the match out. He did so with his sixth consecutive par, winning the 15th hole. Poulter is 33-19-0 in his career at the Match Play, defeating Paul Casey for the title in 2010.