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Horschel sets up Scheffler showdown

Horschel sets up Scheffler showdown

Billy Horschel moved one match away from a maiden European Tour victory as he set up a final against Scottie Scheffler at the 2021 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Billy Horschel

The American beat Victor Perez 3&2 in their semi-final after an enthralling contest, while countryman Scheffler defeated Matt Kuchar one up in tough, windy conditions at Austin Country Club.

Horschel achieved the best finish of his European Tour career earlier this season at the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession and will now be looking to go one better and claim a first WGC win.

A victory would take him to the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex while for Perez, it was a fantastic debut at this event as he recorded a second top five in just a fifth WGC appearance.

The duo went toe to toe on the front nine but were all square at the turn before Horschel won the tenth and 11th and closed out victory with a birdie on the 16th.

"It was a challenge," Horschel said. "It was a lot of fun. When you play in wind like this you've just got to understand you're going to hit good shots and not get rewarded for it.

"It wasn't one of those days you go out can make a lot of birdies. I sort of had to grind it out and understand pars were good scores. I did a good job of that. 

"I didn't play anything special. I just played solid golf and let Victor make a few mistakes."

Horschel outdrove Perez by 60 yards on the first and put his approach to five feet to move one up as his opponent made a messy bogey.

Only a very lucky bounce off a rock stopped Horschel going out of bounds on the second but he still came up short of the green with his second and Perez made a routine par to get back to all square.

I sort of had to grind it out and understand pars were good scores. I did a good job of that - Billy Horschel

He was one up on the fourth as he put a beautiful tee shot to five feet on the par three but the see saw contest was back to all square on the next as Horschel made a birdie from ten feet.

Horschel was laughing at himself on the sixth as he hit a topped hook which travelled just 151 yards with his second and Perez took the hole, but a missed putt from six feet on the next from the 28-year-old squared things up and it stayed that way at the turn.

Perez missed a seven footer for par on the tenth and when he found water off the tee at the 11th, the gap was two holes for the first time.

Perez was on the back foot after finding water on the 12th and going over the back of the green with his second at the 13th but he managed to match Horschel's par on both holes to stay in it.

He three putted the 14th, however, and a par for Horschel meant he was three up with four to play.

A stunning second to tap-in range at the 15th kept Perez alive but Horschel got up and down from the sand on the 16th to complete the victory.

In the second semi-final, Kuchar got lucky off the tee but went into the penalty area over the back of green on the second to go one down before getting back all square on the fourth as Scheffler missed a four footer.

Scheffler made a birdie from ten feet on the ninth and holed an 18 footer after an excellent tee shot in high winds on the 11th to go two up but he found water on the 12th and 13th and Kuchar was back to all square.

Both men hit excellent tee shots into the 17th but after Kuchar missed from 14 feet, Scheffler holed from ten to win the vital hole.

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