Courtesy of AP Photo Tony Gutierrez
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 1, 2022 flipbook.
Former Longhorn Scottie Scheffler reached a major milestone in his return to Austin this weekend, becoming the top-ranked golfer in the world for the first time in his career, just five miles from his alma mater.
“It’s a dream come true to play in front of my hometown fans,” Scheffler said. “I have some good memories (of) coming out and watching this tournament. I’m pleased to be playing in it, and even more happy to win.”
The annual WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament is played at Austin Country Club and features the top 64 professional golfers in the world. This year’s lineup featured two former Longhorns, Jordan Spieth and Scheffler.
Spieth was a one-and-done at Texas, helping the Longhorns to a national championship in the 2012 season before turning professional.
But Scheffler took his time as a Longhorn, graduating from Texas in 2018 after four years. Scheffler was not able to follow Spieth’s footsteps of winning a national championship, but finished in the second round in 2018.
As a professional, Spieth wasted no time, winning his professional match in 2013 at the John Deere Classic. Scheffler started slower as a pro, earning his first win this year at the 2022 Phoenix Open. But this year has been a breakout season.
In the history of the Match Play tournament, Scheffler held the record for the best finish by a former Longhorn, finishing as runner-up in 2021, and then breaking his record by winning the tournament in 2022.
Going into the tournament, Scheffler led the FedEx Cup, the official cumulative score of the PGA Tour, 230 points ahead of Sam Burns, a former LSU golfer who did not compete in last weekend’s tournament.
Both Scheffler and Spieth said they love coming back to Austin, mainly due to the support from fans. Austin Country Club is a unique setting, with three holes along Lake Austin, allowing fans to watch from their boats.
“When you get down 12, 13, 14 and you’ve got boats full of people out there all screaming at you, that’s a unique situation for us, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “You’ve got the crowds here, and you’ve got the people in the boats there. That’s where it gets real fun.”
Spieth, playing in the only group of all major champions, defeated Keegan Bradley but fell to Justin Rose and then was eliminated with a second loss to Adam Scott. Despite his defeat, Spieth said he felt at home playing in Austin.
“Austin has certainly grown as a city massively, but it still feels like it’s burnt orange,” Spieth said. “We support our own, and I feel that out here. A lot of Hook ’em Horns. You saw it with Scottie last year as he went towards the finals, and I felt that same support.”
In the semifinals, Scheffler beat Dustin Johnson to advance to the final round for the second year in a row, where he faced Kevin Kisner. Going into the final round, Kisner was the only golfer to win all of his matchups.
“I would say Kevin played some pretty solid golf today,” Scheffler said. “When you build up a lead on a guy like Kevin, it never really feels safe, kind of like my lead this morning on Dustin (Johnson).”
In the championship round, Scheffler won three of the first six holes, before tying seven in a row. On hole 14, Scheffler won the hole, extending his lead to four holes. Scheffler held onto his lead to become the first Texas graduate to win a professional tournament at Austin Country Club.