Note to 2020 American Ryder Cup Captain, Steve Stricker: the U.S. has a new match-play king, and his name is Kevin Kisner.
One year removed from getting absolutely obliterated by Bubba Watson in the championship match of the 2018 WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play, Kisner mowed down a gauntlet of PGA elites on his way back to the championship match, but this time, the resilient 35-year-old defeated two-time 2019 PGA Tour winner and former Match Play Champion Matt Kuchar by a 3&2 score.
Kisner’s day, which ended with his third career PGA Tour victory, began in impressive fashion when he shockingly defeated the red-hot reigning Open Champion Francesco Molinari in the semi-finals, 1-up.
Kuchar joined Kisner in the championship match by nipping breakout star Lucas Bjerregaard, the 27-year-old Dane who upset Tiger Woods in the quarterfinal, 1-up, in the other semi-final match.
Kisner started the week with a blip, losing his first match in group play, 2-up, to Ian Poulter – one of the best match-play golfers of all-time. But then went 6-0 the rest of the week to claim his first WGC title.
On his way, he knocked off Tony Finau and Keith Mitchell to finish group play, got the better of Poulter in a sudden-death tiebreaker to advance to the Final 16 bracket, where he dominated Haotong Li before knocking off Louis Oosthuizen in the quarterfinals. Then came the semi-final victory over Molinari and the championship triumph over Kuchar.
“I was thinking out there it might be the hardest one just because you have the physical aspect more than any other week,” Kisner told the Golf Channel immediately following his victory.
“It was grueling, definitely with the winds, the temperature today. Overall it was a long week, but I prevailed… and World Golf champion.”
Going into last season’s Ryder Cup, which was a disaster for the Americans, Kisner was on the short-list of captain’s pick candidates, but was passed over for all four slots by American Captain Jim Furyk.
Given the prowess the 35-year-old Kisner has shown in match play format over the past two years at Austin Country Club, 2020 Captain Stricker may want to make an early note, although if Kisner keeps this form going, he will not need to rely on a captain’s pick.
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