Just like Scottie Scheffler, the world number 1 defending champion is the huge favorite in the first half of the table, Rory McIlroy (the only qualified European) is a scarecrow. If the path to this dream final between the two men is relatively clear for the world number 3, the winner of The Players will have a lot to do.
World No. 1 and defending champion Scottie Scheffler is one of 12 players to have a three-game winning record in the group stage, as is Rory McIlroy, the only European to qualify. Stripped of the number 2 seed, Jon Rahm (defeated 5&4 by Billy Horschel), the two men are big favorites for Sunday's final.
Rory McIlroy, results
In three duels in the group stage, Scottie Scheffler only really trembled on Wednesday when he owed his salvation only to a four-meter putt at 18 against Davis Riley. Since his final loss to Billy Horschel two years ago, the Texan has achieved almost no fault on the course at the Austin Country Club.
It is therefore difficult to see him stumble in the eighth against J.T. Poston. On the other hand, his probable quarter against the winner of the clash of "old hands" Jason Day / Matt Kuchar is likely to give him a hard time.
Jason Day (twice winner of this event) won Victor Perez's group by dominating Collin Morikawa on Friday. For his part, Matt Kuchar, winner of the tournament ten years ago, dreams of the record of matches won (36) which he currently shares with Tiger Woods.
If successful, Scheffler could then fall on a bone in the semis. Indeed, he may have to get rid of the winner of a duel Patrick Cantlay / Max Homa (two players from the world's top 10) who is looming in the next round. This provided that the logic is respected and that the two Americans dismiss Sam Burns and Mackenzie Hughes respectively on Saturday morning.
Like Scheffler, Rory McIlroy has only gone to 18 once this week. With a masterful shot of the driver planting the flag located 345 meters away, the Northern Irishman had freed himself from the clutches of the surprising Denny McCarthy.
Undoubtedly the shot of the tournament and perhaps already the shot of the year! On Friday, even the specialist in matches that end at 18 did not manage to push him to his last entrenchments. Keegan Bradley thus yielded to the 16 when Rory calmly reached the green of the 16 in 2.
Even if Lucas Herbert, who was dominant in the group stage, should not be underestimated, the Australian remains on two missed cuts at Players and Bay Hill and should not constitute an insurmountable obstacle. The person concerned readily admits this.
"I don't think anyone can beat Rory if they play their best golf tomorrow. » The only player in the world top 10 on McIlroy's road to the final is Xander Schauffele. Rather lucky, the Californian also has three victories even if he was forced to fight until the 18th on Saturday against a tough Tom Hoge.