Thursday, May 19, 2022

2022 WGC-Dell Match Play quarterfinals: Former champs Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner advance to semifinals

Two former champions of the WGC-Dell Match Play advanced in their matches on Saturday in the quarterfinals. Now, they have the opportunity to set up a final on Sunday afternoon that would result in a repeat winner. Dustin Johnson took down Brooks Koepka in the biggest match of the day, and Kevin Kisner torched Will Zalatoris at Austin Country Club. Those two will play separate matches early on Sunday ahead of the championship.

There were plenty of fascinating moments throughout the quarterfinals, though after a thrilling Saturday morning Round of 16, it was always going to be tough for the afternoon session to meet those expectations. Let’s take a look at everything that went down on Saturday and who’s in line to win the title (and who might become No. 1 because of it) on Sunday in Austin.

Kevin Kisner 4 and 3 over Will Zalatoris: After both sneaked into the quarterfinals, Kisner, who won his last four holes in the morning matches, was relentless to reach his third Sunday in his last four starts at Austin Country Club. Zalatoris didn’t hit the ball well and gifted Kisner three holes with bogeys, but Kisner also put his foot down late with a 39-foot bomb to essentially put the match away. Kisner’s record at Austin Country Club is eye-popping, and he’ll be a menace to eliminate on Sunday at a place that he clearly loves playing (and where he’s not at a distance disadvantage).

“I think it’s great for match play,” said Kisner of Austin Country Club. “I think there’s a lot of risk-reward … I don’t feel like I’m behind the 8-ball on the first tee from a distance standpoint. I haven’t played a single person yet in five matches that hits it anywhere remotely close to the same distance as me. … In a lot of events, I’m dead in the water. I’m behind the 8-ball before I tee off. I love that I can work the ball, use slopes, use the firmness of the fairways and the greens to help me.”

Corey Conners 2 up over Abraham Ancer: Conners rolled it well in the afternoon session and took advantage of a stalled-out Ancer, who didn’t make a birdie over his last seven holes. Conners is such an interesting proposition in match play because, like Zalatoris, he can just ball-strike you until you lose the will to fight. If he makes even a couple of those, he can get rolling downhill, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Dustin Johnson 2 up over Brooks Koepka: Both golfers hit the ball quite well, but nobody made any putts leading to a pretty soft matchup in which there were only six total made birdies (three from each side). D.J. actually didn’t make a birdie until the 12th hole of the day but he eventually outlasted Koepka with pars as he goes for his second win in the last five years at this tournament.The best part of the D.J.-Koepka match came on the 18th hole when, with a 1-up lead, D.J. drove the green on the 369-yard hole and two-putted for birdie to end the festivities (which is how all D.J. matches should end). He’s undefeated so far this week.

Scottie Scheffler 3 and 2 over Seamus Power: Scheffler advanced to the Sunday matches for the second year in a row with an eagle chip-in on the par-5 16th to win 3 and 2. Scheffler never trailed Power and led the eight-man quarterfinal field on strokes gained tee to green. There’s more at stake than the $2 million first prize and a third win of the year for Scheffler, too. With two match wins on Sunday at Austin Country Club, he’ll become the 25th golfer ever (and just the ninth American) to rise to No. 1 in the world. Scheffler was asked about that on Saturday evening and deferred contemplating it too much.

“I wouldn’t say I’m in a rush really to do anything out here,” said Scheffler. “I’m pretty blessed to be playing out here on the PGA Tour. I’m just enjoying myself out here and trying to do the best I can and to compete”

Semifinal Matches

All times Eastern

Dustin Johnson vs. Scottie Scheffler (10:05 a.m.)

Kevin Kisner vs. Corey Conners (10:20 a.m.)

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