WGC Match Play: Tommy Fleetwood crashes out at the 19th as Victor Perez beats Sergio Garcia

Tommy Fleetwood loses to Billy Horschel at first extra hole in WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play; Frenchman Victor Perez ends Sergio Garcia’s hopes; Jon Rahm also beaten as three Americans make it through; watch the semi-finals and final live on Sky Sports Golf on Sunday

Last Updated: 27/03/21 11:06pm

Tommy Fleetwood was never behind over the regulation 18 holes against Billy Horschel

Tommy Fleetwood crashed out in the quarter-finals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play after losing at the first extra hole to Billy Horschel.

The Englishman was looking to follow up his earlier defeat of Dylan Frittelli, which featured a hole-in-one at the fourth, in the last 16 at Austin Country Club but came unstuck when he drove out of bounds down the left at the 12th to hand victory to the American.

Horschel, the 32nd seed, had never been in front over the regulation 18 holes but he now faces a Sunday morning semi-final showdown with Frenchman and 31st seed Victor Perez, the last remaining European player.

Fleetwood made a strong start with a birdie at the first putting him ahead but that was cancelled out at the fourth after Horschel knocked his tee shot to two feet.

A successful 16-foot birdie putt at the ninth sent Fleetwood back in front and the 30-year-old’s advantage was doubled when Horschel missed from 10 feet for a par at the 11th.

Fleetwood’s second into the 12th found the water and he looked set to lose another hole when he pulled his drive at the 13th into the river.

Horschel made a crucial birdie at the 17th to level the match

Horschel made a crucial birdie at the 17th to level the match

However, he managed to salvage a bogey-five, which Horschel matched when he failed to hole a four-footer, and the next four holes were halved before the American levelled it up with a birdie at the 17th after hitting his tee shot to eight feet.

Both players went close to holing their birdie putts at the 18th but the match went into sudden death and after Horschel had found the fairway at the par-five 12th, Fleetwood hooked his drive left, enabling Horschel to secure the win with a safety-first par, as the Englishman, who eventually made a six after reloading on the tee, bowed out in disappointing fashion.

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Perez claimed the notable scalp of Sergio Garcia in the quarter-finals with an impressive 4&3 victory.

Robert MacIntyre had proved no match for Perez in the morning and an out-of-sorts Garcia was always struggling after winning the first with a par.

Victor Perez will take on Horschel for a place in the final

Victor Perez will take on Horschel for a place in the final

Perez birdied the next two thanks to some fine approach work and, although Garcia levelled it again at the sixth, the Frenchman took command after the Spaniard’s wayward second into the seventh proved to be unplayable.

Garcia then missed a short putt at the eighth to slip two down and the deficit was three after he drove into water at the short par-four 13th, leaving Perez to seal the victory with a birdie at the 15th after nailing his approach to seven feet.

Third-seed Jon Rahm, who was by far the highest seed remaining after the group stage, joined his fellow Spaniard in bowing out at the last-eight stage after losing 3&1 to Scottie Scheffler.

American Scheffler made his mark in the morning by beating Ian Poulter 5&4 and he sent another European Ryder Cup star packing in the afternoon session.

Scottie Scheffler is making his debut in the WGC Match Play

Scottie Scheffler is making his debut in the WGC Match Play

A bogey from Rahm at the second and birdies from Scheffler at the third and fifth put the 30th seed in control, although Rahm roared back by taking the seventh and ninth courtesy of two fine approach shots.

Scheffler went 2up again after drilling his second to 10 feet at the 10th and it was Rahm’s turn to find the water at the 12th as he slipped three behind.

A birdie at the 15th briefly gave Rahm hope but it was all over when Scheffler drained his 10-foot birdie putt at the 17th.

“I felt like I played some really good golf,” said Scheffler. “I think I kept things bogey-free and I got some early leads and made sure that I kept the pressure on those guys and made them feel like they had to do something special to beat me, which they weren’t able to do.”

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The 24-year-old now faces Matt Kuchar in an all-American semi-final after the 42-year-old maintained his unbeaten record this week by defeating compatriot Brian Harman 2up.

Kuchar, who ended the hopes of Jordan Spieth in the last 16, played error-free golf to keep left-hander Harman, who had birdied seven successive holes as he rallied from four down to beat Bubba Watson in the morning, at bay.

Kuchar, the 52nd seed, went ahead for good when he holed a 14-footer to birdie the fourth and he doubled his advantage at the next par-three, the seventh, after nailing his tee shot to three feet.

Matt Kuchar won the WGC Match Play Championship in 2013

Matt Kuchar won the WGC Match Play Championship in 2013

The pair swapped holes after sinking putts in excess of 20 feet at the 10th and 11th before Harman took his turn to drive into the water at the 13th as Kuchar went 3up again.

The tenacious Harman drained a 31-footer to claw a hole back at the 14th and he looked set to take it down the 18th with a tee shot to two feet at the 17th only for Kuchar to hole out from around 12 feet to wrap up the win.

Kuchar has been struggling with his game in recent months but is delighted to have finally found some form.

“Certainly golf’s a funny game and I think there are times as a professional where you can feel so far away, you think, golly, I don’t have it,” he said.

“I’m racking my brain trying to find it, but then you plug in the right ingredient, the right key, and then all of a sudden it snaps back, and thankfully it’s been working and I’m seeing progression. It’s just finally now it’s clicked and it’s a lot more fun this way, I assure you.”

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