2021 WGC-Dell Match Play results, grades: Billy Horschel topples Scottie Scheffler to cap relentless week

Billy Horschel is nobody’s idea of a fun time in a match play event, and that proved true this week at the WGC-Dell Match Play as the fast-talking shot-maker won for the sixth time in his PGA Tour career by defeating Scottie Scheffler 2&1 in the finals at Austin Country Club.

Horschel is relentless as both a personality and a golfer, and that can make for a tough week for his opponents. Horschel never stopped chattering. You could hear him hollering “good shot,” or “great leave,” or “nice roll” from the minute shots were in the air on Wednesday. Horschel defeated Max Homa in the opener, lost to J.T. Poston 4&2 on Thursday and then defeated Collin Morikawa 3&2 in a flawless performance to move on to the weekend.

The former Florida Gator is always plugged in and seemingly never slows down, which can be half the battle when you play up to seven matches in five days. This is especially true toward the end of the week as Horschel entered Saturday needing to win four matches in 36 hours to take the tournament. He won the first two over Kevin Streelman and Tommy Fleetwood over the course of 36 holes on Saturday.

“If anyone knows me, my tank’s not empty,” said Horschel after going extras with Fleetwood. “It was empty at the beginning of this week. We had a long, fun spring break last week with my family, and I was pretty exhausted Monday and Tuesday, but yeah, I’ve got plenty of energy.”

He brought that energy on Sunday on a tough, wind-strewn day in Austin. The wind kept birdies at bay as Horschel dispatched of Perez in the semifinals on Sunday morning with just two of them and took the victory over Scheffler in the finals with just one.

“There’s so much emotion, so many turns of the tides,” Horschel told Golf Channel. “I didn’t hit it very good, didn’t feel good with my swing. I was just grinding it out. I would have loved to have hit it better. I had two opponents that played really good today that just didn’t make any putts and I did, and that was the difference today.”

While the end was a pillow fight — Horschel played the first 17 holes in 1 over to grab the win over Scheffler — the week for him was an absolute dream for the guy who never stops. As a long (sometimes boring) week wore on, Horschel’s energy and attitude became disproportionately important compared to the beginning of the week. If five more rounds were added to this tournament, he probably would have won by even more.

As it stands, all he needed was seven of them to grab the first WGC title of his career and a little momentum heading into the Masters in just under two weeks. Grade: A+

Here are the rest of our grades for the 2021 WGC-Dell Match Play.

Sergio Garcia (Quarterfinals): Sergio was a blast all week and likely clinched his spot on the European Ryder Cup team with the way he played. Unless he falls way off over the next six months, Padraig Harrington will be forced to take him (and probably Ian Poulter) because of the signs of life he showed by getting to the quarterfinals. Sergio has not been great at the biggest events since he won the Masters in 2017, so there was a path for him to actually miss this year’s Ryder Cup team, but even if he doesn’t make it on points, his start to 2021 combined with what will be the most recent reminder of his 1-on-1 magic will be enough to get him to Whistling Straits. And by magic, I mean making an ace to end a match against one of the hottest players in the world. Grade: A

Jordan Spieth (Round of 16): There is now a world in which Jordan Spieth should be one of the top three favorites for the Masters in two weeks. That’s how good it’s been for the last two months. He lost to Matt Kuchar in the Round of 16 but finished fourth (fourth!) for the week from tee to green. Spieth has now gained strokes on approach shots in 25 of his last 27 rounds, which is exactly the way you win a green jacket. Don’t let the loss to Kuchar fool you — all in on Spieth at Augusta National. Grade: A

Patrick Cantlay (MC): Though he did not advance out of the pool play, Cantlay hit the ball (way) better than anyone else at the tournament. His 3.0 strokes gained per round from tee to green were more than 1.0 more than anyone else in the tournament (which is astonishing). He made 15 birdies and an eagle in 54 holes but came a bit undone against Hideki Matsuyama in a match to advance to the Round of 16 because he simply could not hit a putt. He’s a really intriguing, slightly lower-tier pick for the Masters coming off this week’s performance. Grade: A

Dustin Johnson (MC): D.J. actually hit the ball fairly well this week and looked like he was going to move on out of the pool play when he led Kevin Na 1UP with just two holes to go. However, Na birdied the last two and Robert MacIntyre moved on out of D.J.’s pool. There were two bigger pieces of news as it relates to Johnson, though. The first is that him and Na got into a bit of a kerfuffle over a conceded (or not conceded) putt that Johnson picked up before Na had told him to

“So I called him over and said, ‘Hey, I’m not going to take the hole a from you, but I just want to let you know before I said something you whacked the ball,'” said Na. “‘But I’m going to give that putt to you, so we’ll call it a halve and go to the next hole.'”

I’m sure D.J. took that well. Grade: B+

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