Rory McIlroy & Scottie Scheffler Both Melt Down In Semifinal Matches At WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Event

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Heading into Sunday, it looked like a monumental showdown was set to commence. The World’s #1-ranked golfer, Scottie Scheffler, and the World’s #3-ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy, appeared on a collision course for an epic championship match at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play event.

In the blink of an eye, though, everything changed.

But let’s “start from the start,” as they say.

Scottie Scheffler squared off with Sam Burns in the first semifinal match of the day. Rory McIlroy faced Cameron Young in the other.

Scottie Scheffler & Sam Burns play incredible back-and-forth-21-hole semifinal at WGC Dell Technologies Match Play event

It was Burns who came out firing, winning the first three holes of the match. As he has done all tournament, though, Scheffler came roaring back. After tying the fourth hole, Scheffler rattled off five victories in the next six holes to take a 2UP lead.

That included this incredible shot by the #1 player in the world.

Undeterred by the sudden swing, Burns — ranked #15 in the world — never gave up. He made a birdie on 13 to cut the lead to one. And then another one on 15.

After both players made birdie on the 16th hole, Sam Burns stepped up to the tee with honors at the par-3 17th hole. And he hit a gorgeous tee shot to take control of the match. It was his fourth birdie in a five-hole stretch.

But you don’t become the world’s best player without some resolve. Needing to win the 18th hole, Scheffler did exactly that.

The players returned to the par-5 12th hole for the first playoff and both made birdie. Then, on the second playoff hole (#13), Scheffler seemed to lock up the victory. He hit his approach inside five feet and Sam Burns was just a bit off, leaving his wedge over 20 feet from the cup.

Burns was unable to make his birdie putt, so Scheffler just needed to convert from four feet to advance.

But, as they say, golf is hard.

Scottie Scheffler of the United States reacts after missing a putt in his match against Sam Burns at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event.
Scottie Scheffler of the United States reacts after missing a putt in his match against Sam Burns at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

That miss cost Scheffler dearly. Burns hit a good iron shot on the third playoff hole and Scheffler hit his over the green. Scheffler got up-and-down for par, but Burns had 15-footer to win it. And win it he did.

Rory McIlroy blows lead in match against Cameron Young

Like Scheffler, Rory trailed early in his match against Cameron Young. Though, unlike Scheffler, he didn’t trail by much. Cam Young won the third hole of the match after McIlroy made just his second bogey of the entire tournament.

But McIlroy quickly won holes five and six to take the lead and then hole #9 to extend to 2UP. Young won 12 to get it back to a one-hole lead, but McIlroy against bounced back to win #13.

Heading into the 16th hole of the macth, McIlroy held a 2UP lead. He just needed to tie two of the remaining three holes, or win just one of them, to advance. But you already know where this is going.

Young did not convert the eagle, but did two-putt for birdie, enough to beat McIlroy and cut the lead back to one. Both made par on the par-3 17th hole.

Heading to hole 18, a hole that Rory has absolutely dominated this week, McIlroy just needed to match Young. But a poor drive opened the door for Young. And Young — the world’s #13 player — took advantage.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after missing a putt in his match against Cameron Young at the WGC Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after missing a putt in his match against Cameron Young at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Both semifinal matches go to playoff holes at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play event

Just like Sam Burns vs. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy vs. Cam Young headed to playoff holes.

Momentum clearly favored Young, who had won two of the previous three holes. But Young caught a terrible break on the first playoff hole and his drive ended up against the lip of a fairway bunker. All he could do was chip back onto the fairway.

McIlroy’s drive ended in much better position and after both players had hit their second shots, Rory’s ball sat 135 yards closer to the hole than Cameron Young.

But they don’t ask “how,” they ask “how many?” And Young’s took less “many” than McIlroy. He hit a brilliant iron from 170 yards away to just inside 10 feet.

Rory’s chip from off-the-green was pretty good, but rested just barely inside Young’s ball.

Most of the time, that’s good news. You want to be inside your opponent so you can see what they do in react. But, in match play, sometimes it doesn’t work out.

Because Young stepped up and drained his birdie putt, which put all the pressure on McIlroy. Either make the putt or lose the match. And, for McIlroy, it was the latter.

As mentioned, casual golf fans were certainly rooting for a Scheffler-McIlroy match in the championship. Both are among the three best golfers on the planet. And, at one point, it seemed a virtual certainty.

When Scheffler was lining up his four-foot putt to win the match — the one he missed that cost him — occurred almost simultaneously with Cam Young finding his ball in the lip of a bunker.

At that point, the Vegas odds had to be 10-1 — at least — for each Scheffler and McIlroy to win and advance. Of course, Scheffler missed the putt, Young made a miraculous birdie, McIlroy missed his tying putt and then Burns hit a game-winning birdie.

All of that happened in about 10 minutes of real-time.

Life comes at you fast.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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