Xander Schauffele shot a record-tying 11-under par 62 on Sunday at Kapalua to claim his second PGA Tour victory of the 2018-19 season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Schauffele started his final day at the famed Plantation Course five shots back of 54-hole leader Gary Woodland, and then found himself six shots behind following a bogey on the first hole. But after settling down with a par on the second hole, the 25-year old burgeoning star from southern California reeled off four birdies in a five-hole stretch (Nos. 3-7) and then added an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole to turn in 31.
“No. 9, was just a straightforward chip. On the upslope it’s always into the grain, I had a 56 degree,” said Schauffele, describing his eagle before the turn.
“And I thought to myself it would be kind of cool and pretty funny if I just chip in right now to spice things up because I looked at the leaderboard and saw that I was kind of trailing. So that was kind of cool.”
A pair of Schauffele pars on Nos. 10 and 11, though, coupled with birdies by Woodland on Nos. 9 and 11, moved the spread back to three shots. At this point, it seemed like Woodland had taken Schauffele’s best shot, and would cruise home to a multi-shot win. But Schauffele “spiced things up” again with a hole-out eagle on No. 12, and added more heat with birdies on Nos. 14, 15, 17 and 18 to sign for a tournament-tying record 62 and a four-day total of 23-under par.
“I mean a day like today, yeah, especially after you bogey the 1st. You kind of look around and realize have you nothing to lose,” explained Schauffele, a 25-year old from San Diego State.
“All of my wins have been from behind. This was in sort of dramatic fashion and it turned into a birdiefest coming down the stretch. So I have no idea what it is, but I think the next step in my career is to learn to be cool under the gun, having a lead and maintaining it.”
Woodland had a chance to force a playoff but missed a nine-foot birdie putt on the 18th, and settled for a final-round 68.
For his fourth career victory, Schauffele earned $1,300,000, along with 500 FedExCup and 56 OWGR points. He will move to No. 1 on the Tour’s money list, and No. 6 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Woodland finished alone in second on 22-under par after carding a bogey-free round with five birdies. Despite the heartbreaking nature of the loss, the 34-year old Kansan is playing the best golf of his career, and will enter this week’s Sony ranked No. 2 on the Tour’s points standings and No. 22 in the world (his best position).
“I played great all week. I played solid today. Drove the ball phenomenally, controlled it into the greens,” said a disappointed Woodland. “There were a couple shots early on the front nine I would like to have back to a couple left pins, I just wasn’t aggressive enough. Outside that have I played great.
“Didn’t get enough putts to go in early in the round. Made some there through the middle and then you just — I saw what Xander was doing in front of me, so I was trying to stay aggressive knowing what he was doing, knowing there was some par-5s and last hole I just got in between clubs. 4-iron that I had in my hands probably wasn’t enough, 2-iron was definitely too much, so we were trying to hit a big hook in there and I just didn’t hook it.
“So it was tough there. Tough making par on the last. But this one will hurt tonight but excited about where my game is.”
Justin Thomas made a bogey on the first hole, but offset the early blemish with nine birdies en route to a 65, good for solo third on 18-under par.
Playing in Sunday’s final pairing with Woodland, Rory McIlroy once again disappointed with a chance at victory, shooting an underwhelming 1-under 72 to finish T4 alongside Dustin Johnson (67) and Marc Leishman (71).
2018 SENTRY TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
FINAL TOP 5
Pos-Player-To Par (Today)
1 Xander Schauffele –23 (-11)
2 Gary Woodland –22 (-5)
3 Justin Thomas –18 (-8)
4 Marc Leishman –15 (-2)
4 Dustin Johnson –15 (-6)
4 Rory McIlroy –15 (-1)
Driving: 280.3 yards (14th)
Fairways: 47/60, 78.3% (15th)
Greens: 59/72, 81.9% (5th)
Putts/GIR: 1.661 (2nd)
Scoring: 2 Eagles, 24 Birdies, 41 Pars, 5 Bogeys
Par-3: (-2) 2 birdies, 10 pars
Par-4: (-9) 1 eagle, 12 birdies, 26 pars, 5 bogeys
Par-5: (-12) 1 eagle, 10 birdies, 5 pars
VIDEO: FINAL-ROUND HIGHLIGHTS
Kevin Tway Leads at Kapalua After Day One
1. Kevin Tway -7
2. Justin Thomas -6
2. Dustin Johnson -6
2. Gary Woodland -6
19. Xander Schauffele -1
Woodland Takes 3-Shot Lead into Halftime at Kapalua
1. Gary Woodland -12 (-6)
2. Bryson DeChambeau -9 (-5)
2. Rory McIlroy -9 (-5)
2. Kevin Tway -9 (-2)
6. Xander Schauffele -7 (-6)
Woodland Takes 3-Shot Lead into Sunday’s Finale at Kapalua
1. Gary Woodland -17 (-5)
2. Rory McIlroy -14 (-5)
3. Marc Leishman -13 (-5)
4. Xander Schauffele -12 (-5)
QUOTABLE: 3 QUESTIONS
1. How good does this one feel because coming from behind five behind to start the day, you bogey No. 1. This is an incredible day for you. It has to be one of the best rounds you’ve ever played?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, it’s better far, I mean it’s by far the best final round I ever played, I can tell you that much. We just have this, I played with Leish yesterday. We got in a good rhythm. Unfortunately he didn’t have the putts going. I think I stole all the birdies away from him today. But he’s an awesome guy to play with and him and Matty were super relaxed and kind of kept me cool the whole time.
2. Which one of these wins your four wins now do you think really is the one the building block for you? It’s pretty hard to say this one is, but which one do you think of the four was the one that kind of propelled you?
SCHAUFFELE: Oh, man, probably the first. The first win. The Greenbrier. Just it showed me that I can hang and then — I mean maybe the TOUR Championship actually. People said the Greenbrier is often a first-time winner’s course, so people are trying to take credit away from me, which is nice. And then, and so the second one, you know I was in a pretty heavy hitting field there at the TOUR Championship, had no idea what I was doing, it was a very weird week. And to be able to sort of win there was massive.
But these are all stepping stones in the right direction and I think end goal’s for me to be able to go wire-to-wire and obviously a major would be nice, but go wire-to-wire and show myself that I got the nerve to do it.
3. When you first came out here and your first two wins you sort of talked about how through college and that you were feeding off that underdog mentality and that spirit. Clearly you’re not that anymore. Where are you going getting the motivation now that you’re one of the big guns?
SCHAUFFELE: Kind of weird sound to it, honestly. I don’t know. I just still feel like an underdog. I feel like until you’re No. 1, you’re chasing.
So guys like Bryson and Justin — JT’s put together a ton of good years, Brooks has been crushing it. So they’re just, they keep putting that flag way out there for me to go and chase and I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing.
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