The WGC - Dell Match Play preview: Scottie Scheffler two wins away from hitting World No.1

The in-form American takes on Dustin Johnson in the first semi-final while Kevin Kisner and Corey Conners meet in the other last-four clash in Texas.

It's been a sensational couple of months for Scottie Scheffler.

In February, he teed it up in the Waste Management Phoenix Open as the World No.14 but still without a first PGA Tour victory.

He was clearly a winner waiting to happen and the day finally arrived when he saw off a field of top-class rivals at TPC Scottsdale to hoist the trophy and climb to World No.9

Two starts later, Scheffler won again, this time capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational in a playoff with Patrick Cantlay. The win at Bay Hill took him to fifth in the OWGR.

With Jon Rahm (1st), Collin Morikawa (2nd), Viktor Hovland (3) and Cantlay (4) all failing to go beyond the top 16 of this week's WGC - Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club, the numbers have been crunched and it's emerged that Scheffler could now go to World No.1.

To do so, he needs to win the event and that means getting past former World No.1, Dustin Johnson, in the semi-finals and then seeing off Kevin Kisner or Corey Conners in the final.

It would be an incredible rise and an unprecedented one: no player has scored his first PGA Tour win and hit No.1 in the world rankings in the same season.

Can Scheffler pull it off? Here we look at Sunday's two semi-finals (seedings in brackets).

Dustin Johnson (8) v Scottie Scheffler (5)

Johnson's route to the semis: DJ won all three group games, seeing off Mackenzie Hughes 3&2, Matthew Wolff 4&2 and Max Homa 1up.

He then beat England's Richard Bland 3&2 in the last 16 before coming through his heavyweight clash with Brooks Koepka in the quarter-finals, winning 2up.

That's five wins out of five but he needs two more to lift the trophy for a second time.

Scheffler's route to the semis: Scheffler beat Ian Poulter 2&1 in his opener but suffered a setback with a 2&1 loss to Tommy Fleetwood. But he beat a third Englishman, Matt Fitzpatrick 5&4, and then won an epic sudden-death playoff against the Sheffield golfer with a birdie at the sixth extra hole.

In the last 16 he won a tight tussle 1up against defending champion Billy Horschel before having too much for Seamus Power (3&2) in the quarters.

Having made the final on his tournament debut last year, Texas local Scheffler would love to go one better in front of his home fans this time.

Record as playing partners

2021 BMW Championship R2: Johnson 70, Scheffler 66

2021 BMW Championship R1: Johnson 67, Scheffler 73

2021 Open Championship R3: Johnson 73, Scheffler 69

2020 Northern Trust R3: Johnson 64, Scheffler 67

2020 PGA Championship R4: Johnson 68, Scheffler 68

Scheffler shot lower = 2

Johnson shot lower = 2

Tie = 1

Stats this week

Strokes Gained: Johnson 7.764, Scheffler 11.602

Par Breakers: Johnson 25, Scheffler 26

Holes Won: Johnson 30, Scheffler 26

Verdict: This could turn into a classic. Scheffler has better Strokes Gained numbers but DJ is a monster in match play as he showed when going 5-0-0 in the last Ryder Cup. Both play well in each other's company and it could go to extra holes. I'll take Scheffler, just.

Kevin Kisner (29) v Corey Conners (41)

Kisner's route to the semis: Kisner continued his love affair with this event with a perfect 3-0 record in Group 6. He beat Marc Leishman 4&3, fought back late to beat Luke List 1up and cruised past Justin Thomas 4&3.

He looked down and out in the last 16 when three down with four to play against Adam Scott but produced some heroics to win four straight holes and steal victory at 18.

Adam Scott and Kevin Kisner at the 2022 Match Play

Kisner got off to a strong start against Will Zalatoris in the quarter-finals and never relinquished his grip, winning 4&3 to reach the semis for the third time in the last four editions.

Conners' route to the semis: Conners, like Kisner and DJ, won all three matches in his group. He was handed victory in the first when Paul Casey pulled out and he followed that with a 2&1 success over former finalist Louis Oosthuizen and a 3&2 win against Alex Noren.

The Canadian beat Japanese surprise package Takumi Tanaya 5&3 in the last 16 and then held on to defeat Mexican Abraham Ancer in the quarters 2up.

At 36th, he's the highest seed left in.

Record as playing partners

2019 Memorial Tournament R4: Kisner 72, Conners 77

Stats this week

Strokes Gained: Kisner 6.457, Conners 5.810

Par Breakers: Kisner 22, Conners 22

Holes Won: Kisner 29, Conners 21

Verdict: Kisner has an incredible record in this event having won 21 of his 28 matches. He's also got the better numbers so far and his comeback against Scott has a whiff of 'name on the trophy' about it. Conners has played some strong golf to reach the semis but Kisner holds the aces and gets the nod.

Trying to pick the outright winner from here is a tall order but Kisner may offer the value in the betting market at just over 3/1.

READ MORE: Dustin Johnson downs Brooks Koepka, sets up semi with Scottie Scheffler

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