Sam Burns completes undefeated week to win WGC-Match Play
It marks Burns' fifth career win and his first of 2023 after collecting three trophies last season.
Sam Burns took 21 holes to defeat World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler in the semifinals before cruising to a 6-and-5 victory over Cameron Young to win the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.
It marks Burns' fifth career win and his first of 2023 after collecting three trophies last season. It was his debut appearance in the event.
The No. 13 seed, Burns went undefeated this week at Austin Country Club. In the group stage, he swept Ireland's Seamus Power, Australia's Adam Scott and Canada's Adam Hadwin to win Group 13. On Saturday, he edged Patrick Cantlay 2-and-1 in the Round of 16 and beat Canada's Mackenzie Hughes 3-and-2 in the quarterfinals.
"I'm so tired," the 26-year-old Burns said. "Yeah, it was fun playing Cam today. I know he didn't have his best stuff, but it was a great match. I mean, I feel like I got off to kind of a -- not a great start, but felt like I kind of found something at the end of my match this morning with Scottie, and I was able to carry that on this afternoon."
In the semifinals, Burns birdied the first three holes and Scheffler parred all three. Scheffler won five of the next six holes to flip his deficit into a 2-up lead.
Birdies at the par-4 13th and 15th holes helped Burns square the match. He sank a birdie putt at the par-3 17th to take a 1-up lead, but Scheffler forced extra holes by winning the 18th with a birdie.
After both players birdied the first playoff hole and parred the second, Burns' drive at the third playoff hole (the par-4 14th) found a fairway bunker. But he recovered by sticking his next shot 15 feet away from the pin, and his birdied 3 bested Scheffler's par 4.
Scheffler was the tournament's defending champion. Burns' semifinal victory was reminiscent of the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge, when he defeated his friend Scheffler in a playoff by making a 38-foot birdie putt from off the green.
"I knew after the start I got on Scottie, 3-up through 3, I knew it was going to be a battle. I knew he was going to make a run," Burns said. "I kind of lost my game a little bit halfway through the round and I was really pleased with how I finished and ultimately to come away with the win."
In similar fashion, Young needed 19 holes to defeat Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy in the semifinals.
Young was 2-down through 15 before birdieing the par-5 16th and the par-4 18th to square the match. At the first playoff hole, the par-5 12th, both players had birdie putts inside 10 feet but Young made his and McIlroy missed.
"It's just further proof that I feel like I can hang with anybody in the world," said Young, last season's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. "Rory's obviously one of the best of his generation, if not the best, and one of the best players in the world right now. So anytime you get to go out and play 19 holes with him it's a lot of fun. Just thankful to get it done."
But Young will have to keep waiting for his maiden PGA Tour victory after Burns dominated the final. Young won the second hole before Burns took the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth for a 3-up advantage. Burns' consecutive birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 clinched the match.
McIlroy defeated Scheffler 2-and-1 in the third-place match.
This was the final edition of the match-play event that has been contested since 1999. The tour has said that it won't return to the schedule in 2024.
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