Rory McIlroy made no attempt to hide his disappointment after missing out on a place in the final of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
McIlroy was two up with three to play in his semi-final against Cameron Young before losing on the first extra hole, while Sam Burns beat defending champion and world number one Scottie Scheffler on the 21st hole at Austin Country Club.
Burns went on to thrash Young 6&5 in the final to claim his fifth PGA Tour title and the first prize of $3.5million , with McIlroy beating Scheffler 2&1 in the third/fourth place play-off.
“What a week. I’m so tired,” Burns told NBC. “I felt like I found something towards the end of my match with Scottie and was able to carry that on this afternoon.
Last man standing. 🏆
Sam Burns defeats Cameron Young 6-and-5 to win the 2023 @DellMatchPlay! pic.twitter.com/3Vaf9W41iM
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) March 26, 2023
“It means a lot. I’ve been in a play-off in a WGC before and I ultimately didn’t get it done.
“I knew that it was going to be a great match against Cam, he’s been playing so well all week. He probably played the best of anyone all week. To be able to battle with him today, it was a blast.”
Young drew first blood in the final with a birdie on the second, but Burns hit back in style with eight birdies in the space of 10 holes to complete a comprehensive win.
The one-sided contest was in stark contrast to the morning’s semi-finals, which both went to extra holes and produced shock results.
That winning moment. 💙 pic.twitter.com/UcUuF1jvgR
— WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (@DellMatchPlay) March 26, 2023
McIlroy fell behind against Young after making a bogey on the third, but bounced back to birdie the fifth, sixth and ninth for a two-hole lead at the turn.
Both players birdied the 11th before McIlroy hooked his second shot on the par-five 12th from a fairway bunker into the water to see his lead halved.
However, an aggressive tee shot on the short 13th set McIlroy up for a birdie and he remained two up until Young birdied the par-five 16th.
Young also birdied the 18th to force extra holes and the 25-year-old then birdied the first extra hole, the par-five 12th, despite having to pitch out of a fairway bunker with his second shot to leave him 170 yards from the hole.
“Feeling obviously pretty bad, two up with three to play, but Cam played great,” McIlroy said.
“He birdied 16 and 18 and then made a hell of a birdie there (on the play-off hole) after getting an unlucky break with the tee shot.
“I just didn’t do enough over those last four holes to close him out and when you don’t do that and you’re up against a player of Cam’s calibre that’s what’s going to happen.”
In the first semi-final, Burns made a flying start with a hat-trick of birdies to open up a three-hole lead, but bogeyed the fifth following an errant drive and Scheffler then birdied the sixth and eighth to get back on level terms.
Further birdies on the ninth and 10th, as Burns bogeyed both holes, gave Scheffler a two-hole lead before Burns birdied the 13th and 15th to get back to all square.
Burns almost holed his tee shot on the 17th to edge in front but Scheffler birdied the 18th to keep the match alive and both players birdied the first extra hole.
Scheffler missed from three feet on the 13th to win and Burns took full advantage, holing from 15 feet on the 14th to seal a dramatic victory.
“I played pretty solid most of the day,” Scheffler said. “I had a lot of good putts. I hit a bunch of lips today. Especially towards the end of the round I hit a lot of putts that I thought were going in that didn’t.
“And then I hit some good shots in the play-off, then I missed a shorty there on 13. Teddy (his caddie Ted Scott) had it a little higher than I did and I went with my instincts and it turns out it wasn’t enough break.
“It’s a bit frustrating, but I put up a good fight today. I almost went four down through four and put up a good fight and Sam played really well.”