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Sam Burns Clobbers Young to Capture WGC Match Play Crown

Sam Burns capped an amazing week at the Austin Country Club by winning the WGC Match Play Championship on Sunday. World number 15 Burns demolished Cameron Young 6&5 to pocket the USD3.5-million top prize. It was the fifth career US Professional Golfers Association title for the 26-year-old Shreveport native, who became the first player to capture the WGC Match Play title in his debut since Australian Geoff Ogivly won the event in 2006. Burns made it to the finals after dethroning top-ranked defending champion Scottie Scheffler in 21 holes in the morning semifinals. Young, the 2022 PGA Rookie of the Year, gained a chance to claim the title by edging past third-ranked Rory McIlroy in 19 holes. Only a few in the US PGA betting circuit expected Burns to win the title, let alone make it to the final as he was up against Scheffler, the world’s number one golfer. The same could be said for Young as he faced one of the greats in McIlroy.

Sam Burns Made Eight Birdies in the Last 10 Holes

Burns fell behind early as Cameron Young won the second hole after he sank a five-foot birdie putt. He evened things up in the fifth when his approach dropped inches from the hole and scored a birdie. The 26-year-old almost made an eagle from 45 yards in the sixth and took the lead with his second straight birdie. He went 2 up in the seventh when Young muffed a six-foot par putt. Sam Burns gained a 3-up edge when he sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the eighth. The American made another birdie to win the 10th and go 4-up. He buried another birdie at the par-3 11th but Young halved the hole when he made his own 22-foot birdie putt. Young, however, fell 5-down on the par-5 12th when he shot the ball into the water. He again found water on the next hole and lost the match and settled for USD2.200 million for the runner-up finish.

McIlroy Claims Third Place

McIlroy, who is looking to win The Masters to complete a career Grand Slam, outplayed Scheffler in the third-place match, 2&1, to secure some edge against the defending champion two weeks ahead of the sport’s first major. McIlroy led from the start to outclass the American and won USD1.420 million. Scheffler settled for USD1.145 million for fourth place. He forced extra holes in his semifinal clash against Burns when he birdied the 18th hole. However, he muffed a four-foot birdie attempt at the second extra hole and allowed Burns to sink a 14-foot birdie in the next to lose an opportunity to claim a ticket to the final. In the second semifinal, McIlroy wasted a 2-up edge with three holes to go. Young birdied in the par-5 16th to cut the deficit to 1-up. He rolled another birdie in the 18th to equalize and forced an extension. The American continued his putting masterpiece in the first extra hole when he buried a nine-foot birdie on the par-5 12th to win the semifinal and book a duel with Burns.

Running for Masters’ Contention

Burns’ victory in the WGC Match Play Championship places him as one of the sports oddsmakers favorites to win the 2023 Augusta Masters slated on April 6-9. The American will have a target on his back going into the first major golf tournament of the year. Last year, he missed the cut and he hopes it will be different this time around. Young, McIlroy and Scheffler will also be in the mix for the green jacket as Scheffler is the defending champion and is among the top golfers to contend for the Masters title. McIlroy, on the other hand, is determined to secure the only major title to elude him. Young will also be in the hunt as he looks to finally win a major months after placing second in the British Open.