Evening Telegraph (First Edition)
Scheffler hopes format will stay
WORLD No 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler is relishing the “simplicity” of the format as he prepares to defend his title in what will be the last WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event.
The tournament has been the only regular match-play event on the PGA Tour since its creation back in 1999 and has been staged at Austin Country Club since 2016.
Scheffler was runner-up to Billy Horschel in 2021 and went one better 12 months later, defeating Kevin Kisner in the final to win for the third time in five starts and move top of the world rankings for the first time.
Two weeks later Scheffler won his first major at the Masters and the 26-year-old returns to Austin in similar form after defending his WM Phoenix Open title in February and winning the Players Championship earlier this month.
“Good to be back in Austin,” Scheffler told a pre-tournament press conference.
“One of our favourite places to come visit, definitely one of our favourite tournaments of the year, and looking forward to this week. I love match play. I like the simplicity of it.
“All you have to do is just go out there and try and beat the guy that’s in front of you and if you don’t, you lose, and if you beat him, you win. So the simplicity of it is what I enjoy.
“This calendar year I’ve played some really solid golf and I’ve been in contention a good amount and been fortunate to come out with two wins. I’m hoping to continue that trend moving forward.
“My memories from the tournament last year were I started to play better as the week went on.”
Scheffler won his opening group match last year against Ian Poulter, but then lost to Tommy Fleetwood before beating Matt Fitzpatrick 5&4 and then defeating the same player on the sixth play-off hole to reach the last 16.
The top seed takes on Tom Kim, Alex Noren and Davis Riley in group one this week and would love to see the event return to the PGA Tour schedule in the future.
“I think so, but it’s a selfish opinion on my part,” Scheffler added.
“I love Austin, I love this tournament... like I said, it’s our favourite tournament of the year.
“Throughout the year, I think match play is a good change of pace. Commercially, I don’t know how well it works when it comes to TV and only having so many guys on the golf course on the weekend. So we’ll see what happens in the future.
“I think the Tour’s doing a really good job of making the right business decisions for us, and as a player, I obviously have a biased opinion.
“I have a second and a first here and so I would love to see this tournament continue to come back, but I don’t make the decisions around here.”
The 64-man field at Austin Country Club is split into 16 groups of four, with only the group winners advancing to the knockout stages at the weekend.
Scheffler faces world No 64 Riley in his opening match today, with Jon Rahm up against Rickie Fowler in group two and Rory McIlroy facing Scott Stallings in group three.