World Golf Championship – Dell Match Play: Tommy Fleetwood turns the tide on Scottie Scheffler

The Englishman inflicted a rare blow on the Texan who reached last year’s final at Austin CC.

Ahead of Thursday's second set of group matches at the World Golf Championship - Dell Match Play, only one man had ever tasted victory over Scottie Scheffler in 11 tries at match play golf.

Moreover, English Ryder Cup golfers were facing the prospect of a nasty case of deja vu.

Three of them - Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick - had been drawn in Group 5 with the 25-year-old who had played a significant role in Team USA's victory at Whistling Straits last September.

The veteran Poulter was downed 2&1 by him on Wednesday and Fleetwood, defeated by Fitzpatrick in the first match so facing elimination, was in no mood to go the same way.

But Scheffler was unbeaten in reaching the final here 12 months ago, only losing the title match to Billy Horschel on the 18th green, and he'd also won two and halved a third match in his Ryder Cup debut.

His long-driving, stellar approach work, smart short game and newly-assured putting, allied to a temperament well-suited to the format, were proving very difficult to beat in head-to-head golf.

Fleetwood also had irritation to deal with: the knowledge that he'd played nicely on day one and yet his compatriot Fitzpatrick had played better.

"I was frustrated yesterday," he admitted. "But at the same time the result, if you feel like you've played well and you've had a great match and you've done what you can, you obviously can accept that.

"I definitely played all right. Fitzy just got the better of me at match play, played really well, and I lost on the last.

"And then today, you're coming out against a very, very good player who's playing great and you just have to get stuck in."

Fleetwood did just that.

He drained a birdie putt from 16-feet at the first to go 1-up and was never behind all day.

He doubled the advantage with another par breaker, this time from 22-feet, at the sixth. A bogey handed half his advantage back, but a 153-yard approach to kick-in range earned another hole at the 12th.

Fleetwood found the trees on 16 and Scheffler pounced to claw a hole back, but he promptly dumped his tee shot at the short par-3 17th into the hazard. Game over.

"Just really pleased with the way I played," said Fleetwood. "Obviously he got unlucky on 17 really, gust of wind swirling, comes up short and that obviously worked in my favor. But just very happy with how I played and a great result, as well."

He's excited about the prospect of the final group matches, in his case against Poulter who was defeated 4&2 by Fitzpatrick.

"Especially after yesterday, it's nice knowing that you're playing to try and get through. Poults is never going to lie down and it's going to be a really difficult match.

"I really enjoyed the way I hit it today. That makes me feel good. I want to keep doing that.

"Whatever happens tomorrow happens, but I'm excited to go into Friday still with a chance of progressing through into the knockout stages and just keep trying to do my thing."

Elsewhere there was a 2&1 win for Corey Conners over Louis Oosthuizen, setting up a Friday showdown in Group 10 between him and Alex Noren.

Aussie Lucas Hebert downed Xander Schauffele to take top spot in Group 7 with a pair of wins.

And defending champion Billy Horschel is not letting go of his title any time soon. He added a 3&2 defeat of Tom Hoge to his first day victory over Min Woo Lee by the same score. He faces Thomas Pieters on Friday, who Lee got the better of, but only after 18 holes.

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