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Tuesday June 22nd, 2021 5:54AM

Harman turns tables on Watson, Kuchar ousts Spieth in Austin

By The Associated Press
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Brian Harman appeared headed for an early loss when he fell 4 down to Bubba Watson through five holes. Eight straight birdies later, Harman turned out a 2-and-1 victory to reach the quarterfinals of the Dell Technologies Match Play.

Jordan Spieth won't be joining him.

Advancing to the weekend for the first time in five years at Austin Country Club, Spieth never trailed until Matt Kuchar beat him in what amounted to a short-game contest on the 18th hole for a 1-up victory.

That was the only match to reach the 18th hole in the fourth round Saturday morning.

Tommy Fleetwood had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fourth hole. Unlike the ace on Friday by Sergio Garcia that ended his playoff, this was just another hole he won in having no trouble dispatching Dylan Frittelli, 4 and 3.

Scottie Scheffler never gave Ian Poulter a chance, making seven birdies in 14 holes. Not only did the former Texas Longhorn never trail, Poulter never won a hole.

“I played some good golf and kept the pressure on him the whole day and ended up with a win,” Scheffler said. “You could tell by the look in his eye that he wasn’t giving in at all. He was just waiting for a spark.”

Scheffler advanced to play Jon Rahm, a finalist four years ago in Match Play, who knocked out Erik van Rooyen.

Victor Perez didn't give Robert MacIntyre a chance for more heroics. He led from the opening hole in a 5-and-4 victory, sending the 24-year-old home off to prepare for the Masters. Reaching the weekend assured the Scot of staying in the top 50 to qualify for Augusta National.

Perez next faced Garcia, who beat Mackenzie Hughes, 2 and 1.

Billy Horschel, one of eight players who had to win a playoff to get to the weekend, beat Kevin Streelman on the 17th hole.

It was the second time in the Match Play that Watson and Harman, who both went to Georgia, squared off in the round of 16. Watson beat him on the 17th hole three years ago on his way to winning the tournament.

It was the same score this time, but entirely different.

Watson was 4 up through five holes, with Harman contributing one bogey, and they both made short birdie putts on the par-5 sixth hole. The rest of the way, it was mostly all Harman and there was nothing Watson could do about it.

It started with a tee shot into 6 feet of a tough pin — bunker right, deep ridge to the left — for birdie. Harman holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the next hole, and then did well to get out of a round fairway bunker on the ninth to just over 30 feet. He made that one, too.

Two more short birdie putts followed, and he won his sixth straight hole with his best shot: a flop shop from behind a bunker right of the green to a back-right pin position. It went straight up and landed softly to 3 feet.

Watson tried to make it interesting by winning the 15th and 16th holes with key shots for birdie to get within a hole. But on the par-3 17th, Watson's tee shot was short and spun off into the hazard.

“He is a hard guy to beat in match play and he knocked me out of this tournament last time, so it’s nice to get the best of him today,” Harman said.

He moved on to play Kuchar, who knocked out Spieth with some key putts and a big break down the stretch.

Spieth and Kuchar went from winning holes with birdies to winning with pars. Spieth was 2 up twice, the last occasion after a short birdie on No. 10. That turned out to be the last hole he won.

Kuchar birdied the 11th and made birdies from the 18-foot range on the next two holes to tie the match. Spieth appeared certain to take the lead on the par-5 16th when Kuchar sprayed his shot into the trees. The ball was so buried he needed help finding it, but was able to get a drop because a scoreboard was in his way. He scrambled for par, and Spieth missed a 6-foot birdie putt.

It ended on the 18th when both players came up short of the green. Spieth caught too much ball and went 30 feet long. Kuchar hit a floater to 4 feet and made the birdie to advance.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Golf, AP Sports - PGA
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