Kisner, Scheffler among semifinalists in Match Play

Kisner, Scheffler among semifinalists in Match Play

AUSTIN, Texas — One match required a comeback the likes of which Austin Country Club has never seen. The other was easy enough to feel like a warm walk along Lake Austin. Either way, Kevin Kisner just seems to win in the Dell Technologies Match Play.

Three down on the 15th tee, Kisner won the next four holes to beat Adam Scott in the fourth round Saturday morning. In the quarterfinals, he was 3 up on Will Zalatoris after four holes and never trailed in a 4-and-3 victory.

Kisner reached the final day of this fickle tournament for the third time, the most of anyone since it changed from single elimination to group play in 2015. He lost in the championship match in 2018 and won the next year.

But he has plenty of company among the semifinalists.

Scottie Scheffler got a tiny measure of revenge when he went 18 holes to outlast Billy Horschel, who beat him a year ago in the final match. Scheffler advanced in the afternoon by beating Seamus Power of Ireland 3 and 2.

Also in the semifinals is Dustin Johnson, who each day seems to be getting closer to the form that made him No. 1 in the world longer than any other player since Tiger Woods. Johnson eliminated 49-year-old Richard Bland in a scrappy fourth-round match, then went the distance with Brooks Koepka in the quarterfinals.

Johnson had to rally from 2 down against Koepka in a fascinating duel between former world No. 1 players and multiple major champions. They were all square when Johnson halved the 12th hole with a 15-foot birdie, took the lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole and saved another tough par on the 16th.

Johnson closed him out by driving the 18th green, forcing Koepka to aggressively try to hole a chip from left of the green that went off the putting surface into a drainage ditch.

Johnson, who won the Match Play in 2017, will face Scheffler in the semifinals Sunday morning. Kisner will play Corey Conners, the first Canadian to reach the semifinals at Match Play. Conners had an easy time with Takumi Kanaya in the morning (5 and 3) and then played the 18th hole in competition for the first time all week to hold off Abraham Ancer of Mexico.

For Scheffler, more is at stake than his third PGA Tour win in his past five starts. Rahm, the world’s No. 1 player, lost to Koepka in 19 holes in the morning. That means Scheffler can go to the top of the world ranking if he were to win the Match Play.

That’s a little too far ahead for a guy who rarely thinks about anything except his next shot, especially facing Johnson on Sunday morning before a partisan Texas Longhorns crowd.

Kisner will try to become only the third player to reach the championship match at least three times since this World Golf Championship began in 1999, joining Woods and Geoff Ogilvy.

How he even made it out of the fourth round is a wonder.

Scott went 3 up with a birdie on the 14th hole, and Kisner had no room for error. He stuffed a wedge to 5 feet for birdie to win the 15th. He holed a bunker shot for eagle that had to clear another bunker and a ridge protecting the pin in the back right corner of the par-5 16th.

Scott helped by missing a 10-foot par putt on the par-3 17th, and then Kisner went ahead for the first time all match by making a 7-foot birdie putt at the end.

“I don’t ever give up,” Kisner said. “I knew I needed to make some birdies. I knew I needed him to start thinking about it. That’s what I’m always trying to do is get the opponent to think about what I’m doing instead of what they’re doing, and I was able to do that when I holed that bunker shot on 16.”

Zalatoris lost a big lead to Kevin Na in the fourth round before making a birdie on the 18th hole to force overtime, and he outlasted him on the fourth extra hole. And then he had to go back out and face Kisner, who now has a 21-6-1 record at Austin Country Club.

Johnson ended the hopes of the sentimental favorite, Bland, the oldest man in the field who needed to win one more match to assure moving into the top 50 for a spot in the Masters. Bland went 2 up quickly, missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the seventh hole and then Johnson won the next three to take control.

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