AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) – Scottie Scheffler was well-versed in the rules. There would be no head-to-head tiebreaker to determine who would proceed to the knockout stage of the WGC-Dell Match Play, despite the fact that he beat Matt Fitzpatrick 5 and 4 in their pool-play match Friday at Austin Country Club.
Scheffler and Fitzpatrick, both 2-1, would have to play in a playoff to decide the winner.
“I would have been startled and a little frustrated if I hadn’t known the rule,” Scheffler said, “but I knew the rule going in, and so for me, I knew what I needed to do today and I was fortunate to be able to achieve that.”
Scheffler eliminated the Englishman with a 6-foot birdie putt after a six-hole playoff, which was tied for the longest in the event’s current format (Bill Hass beat K.T. Kim in 2017). Scheffler will now play Billy Horschel in the Round of 16 on Saturday morning, a player with whom Scheffler is familiar, as Horschel defeated him in the final last year.
The wait between the end of Scheffler and Fitzpatrick’s morning match and the start of their playoff was maybe the only thing Scheffler wasn’t expecting on Friday. Scheffler had to wait nearly three hours to put Fitzpatrick away since there are 32 matches scheduled each day with tee times ranging to 2:50 p.m. CT.
“I was taken aback by that,” Scheffler remarked. “I would have preferred to keep playing the way I was in the beginning, but Matt did a fantastic job of regrouping and came out and played some fantastic golf in the playoff.”
Scheffler ate lunch, watched some coverage, stretched, re-warmed up, and then headed to the first tee during the break. A different Fitzpatrick greeted him.
Fitzpatrick had only shot even-par golf in 14 holes during regulation, with no birdies and a chip-in eagle, but in the playoff, he traded birdies at Nos. 1 and 5. Fitzpatrick’s birdie at the first came from 8 feet after his ball kicked out of a fairway bunker and gave him a good look at the green.
Scheffler, on the other hand, was unflappable. Since bogeying the fourth hole against Ian Poulter on Wednesday, the former Texas star hasn’t had a bogey or worse.
He’ll need more of that error-free golf to avenge Horschel, who won his opening two matches by a combined score of 3 and 2 before matching Thomas Pieters.
“Right now, I’m pretty secure in my game and what I’m doing,” Horschel said.
Last year, Horschel defeated Scheffler by a score of 2 to 1.
“It’ll be an entertaining match,” Scheffler said. “I haven’t had much time to think about it, so I’m simply going to go home and rest up for tomorrow’s battle.”
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