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Sam Burns enjoyed one of his best days in golf on Sunday as he overcame Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Young to win the 2023 WGC-Dell Match Play title. The 26-year-old entered the day knowing that he would overcome the world number one before having to face the winner of Rory Mcilroy and Camerong Young in the final.
In his semi-final with Scheffler, Burns got off to the best start possible and found himself three holes up after three holes played. As a close friend of Scheffler’s, Burns would have known at this point that his opponent wouldn’t go down without a fight and the reigning Players Championship winner fought back and was two points ahead after the tenth.
With eight holes to play, most people believed that Scheffler would pull away from his counterpart, however, it was now Burns’ turn to dig in and produce a comeback. A birdie on the par three 17th gave him the lead with one hole to play but Scheffler came back again to force a playoff. After three additional holes, Burns finally got the win and earned himself a place in the final.
A one-sided final
Despite starting his semi-final first, Burns was the second player to qualify for the final in Texas. While Cameron Young also needed a playoff to beat Rory Mcilroy, the 25-year-old managed to win his match on the first extra hole which meant he booked his place in the final slightly earlier than Burns.
The extra preparation time was clearly of little benefit to Young as Burns blew him away in the final, winning with five holes to spare. Despite the match eventually turning into a blowout win, things looked very different early on in the match. Young birdied the 2nd hole to give himself an early lead and he birdied the fourth to give himself a good chance of going two clear.
However, Burns managed to match his opponent on the fourth and caught fire from there on out. Seven birdies over the next nine holes were too much to compete with and the American earned himself his fifth PGA Tour title and a spot in the world’s top ten. For Young, it was once again a case of so near yet to so far as he continues to build on his reputation of finishing in second place.
Sam Burns: 5th career PGA Tour win, all in last 3 seasons
Most PGA Tour victories, last 3 seasons:
Burns is the first to win this event in his debut since 2006 (Geoff Ogilvy).
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) March 26, 2023
Speaking afterwards, Burns said:
“What a week, I am so tired. I know Cam didn’t have his best stuff but it was a great match. I felt like I found something at the end of my match with Scottie and was able to carry that on this afternoon. I have just tried to stack one good swing after another. It is what I have tried to do today and the last couple of weeks. It is nice to see the hard work I have put in paying off on the golf course.”
A consolation win for Mcilroy
Rory Mcilroy faced Scottie Scheffler in the third and fourth-place playoff after both men suffered shock defeats in their respective semi-finals. However, with the Masters just around the corner, the match gave the best two golfers in the world an opportunity to get one over the other.
In a closely fought contest, Mcilroy came out on top with a hole to spare to wrap up a miserable day for Scottie Scheffler. With the first major of the year on the horizon, questions will now be raised about whether his performance on Sunday could be of psychological detriment to his hopes of winning back-to-back green jackets.