Scheffler wins Match Play to take top spot in world ranking


By The Associated Press



AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Scottie Scheffler is the hottest player in golf and now has the ranking to prove it.

Six weeks after his first PGA Tour victory, Scheffler won the Dell Technologies Match Play for his third title in his last five starts, this one enough to move him to No. 1 in the world.

One year after losing in the championship match, the 25-year-old Scheffler never trailed against Kevin Kisner, building a 3-up lead through six holes and giving him no chance to catch up. Scheffler closed him out with a par on the 15th for a 4-and-3 victory.

Scheffler never trailed in the semifinal win over Dustin Johnson or against Kisner — he went the final 57 holes at Austin Country Club without trailing — and he was so solid in the championship match that Kisner didn’t win a hole.

Scheffler won at Austin Country Club, where the Texas Longhorns occasionally practiced. Scheffler earned a business degree in four years without summer school.

Scheffler won the Phoenix Open six week ago, and followed that with a win at Bay Hill to move to No. 5 in the world. He needed help from Jon Rahm to get to the top. Rahm, who had been No. 1 since July 18, lost in the fourth round in 19 holes to Brooks Koepka. That paved the way for Scheffler to replace him by winning the Match Play.

He’s the sixth-youngest player to reach No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986. Scheffler joined Kisner as the only players to win the Match Play the year after losing in the championship match. Scheffler $2.1 million.

In the morning semfinals, Scheffler beat Johnson 3-1, and Kisner edged Corey Conners 2 up. Conners beat Johnson 3 and 1 in the consolation match.

LPGA TOUR

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Atthaya Thitikul won the JTBC Classic for her first LPGA Tour title, three-putting for bogey on the second hole of a playoff to outlast Nanna Koerstz Madsen.

After Koerstz Madsen’s 15-foot bogey putt hit the edge of the cup and stayed out away, the 19-year-old Thitikul rolled her 10-foot par try close and holed out for the breakthrough victory.

At 19 years, 25 days, Thitikul is the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour since Brooke Henderson in the 2016 Portland Classic at 18 years, 9 months, 23 days. The Thai player also has two victories on the Ladies European Tour.

Koerstz Madsen lost two weeks after winning a playoff in Thailand to become the first Danish champion in LPGA Tour history.

They matched pars on the first extra trip down 18, with Thitikul missing an 8-foot birdie try. Koerstz Madsen drove left on the second playoff hole and hit her second from an awkward stance near the cart part into the greenside water.

Thitikul shot an 8-under 64, making nine birdies and a bogey to post at 16-under 272 at Aviara Golf Club in the final event before the first major of the season next week at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage.

Koerstz Madsen, three strokes ahead of Na Rin An and and six in front of Thitikul entering the round, had a 70. She took the lead with a birdie on the par-5 17th, then bogeyed 18 to fall into the playoff.

PGA TOUR

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic (AP) — Chad Ramey won the windswept Corales Puntacana Championship for his first PGA Tour title, beating Ben Martin and Alex Smalley by a stroke.

Ramey closed with a 5-under 67, completing a two-putt par on the par-4 18th after Martin missed a 6-foot birdie try that would have forced a playoff.

Two strokes behind Martin entering the round, Ramey made four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16 to take the lead and parred the par-3 17th at Corales Golf Course.

With the tournament played opposite the Match Play event in Austin, Texas, Ramey earned an exemption into the PGA Championship but not the Masters. The 29-year-old from Mississippi finished at 17-under 271.

Martin, the leader after each of the first three rounds, closed with a 70. Smalley finished with a 67.

EUROPEAN TOUR

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Ewen Ferguson of Scotland won the Qatar Masters for his first DP World Tour title, closing with a 2-under 70 in high wind for a one-stroke victory.

Ferguson finished at 7-under 281 at Doha Golf Club.

Playing partner Chase Hanna was second. The American shot a 71.

Adrian Meronk (75) and and Marcus Kinhult (71) tied for third at 5 under.

By The Associated Press