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Posted January 7, 2019 in "Watts" In The Bag by Trevor Cigich
Article by Ron Green Jr. of Global Golf Post – Xander Schauffele was still trying to get his head around what he did Sunday to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions even as he was admiring the artsy blue trophy that came with his fourth PGA Tour victory.
Having started the final round five behind leader Gary Woodland and deepened his deficit with a bogey at the first hole, Schauffele rode two eagles in a four-hole stretch midway through the sun-splashed afternoon to a closing 11-under-par 62 that tied the course record on the Plantation Course at Kapalua and gave him a one-stroke ahead of Woodland.
“I mean it’s by far the best final round I ever played, I can tell you that much,” Schauffele, who also won the EGC-HSBC Championship in October, giving him two victories in the still-young Tour season.
Schauffele, 25, finished at 23-under 269.
“That’s really good,” Woodlands said of Schauffele’s final round. “The golf course was gettable, as gettable as it was all week. We knew going in we were going to have to make birdies. Sixty-two is obviously an awesome round of golf.”
It had to be.
Woodland was 22-under par, never shot higher than 68 and it still wasn’t quite enough. He was left to lament the birdie he didn’t make on the 680-yard, downhill par-5 finishing hole, having watched Schauffele birdie the hole in front of him to take a one-stroke advantage.
Schauffele had ripped a hard draw down the hill to within 10 feet of the hole at 18, setting up a two-putt birdie that was the difference. Woodland, caught between a 4-iron and 2-iron into the final green (he doesn’t carry a 3-iron), miss-hit his second shot and left himself an awkward 48-yard pitch. Needing to make a 10-footer to force a playoff, Woodland – who putted well all week – didn’t touch the hole with his effort.
“This one will sting tonight,” Woodland said.
Though he led most of the final round, Woodland saw Schauffele coming at him. He was in the fairway when Schauffele chipped in for eagle at the par-5 ninth. Three holes later, Schauffele holed a 106-yard wedge shot for an eagle at the par-4 12th and suddenly he was within one stroke of Woodland.
Birdies at the 17th and 18th holes ultimately sealed the victory for Schauffele, who was fighting his nerves at the end.
“I was very nervous, strangely,” Schauffele said of his eagle putt at 18. “We’re in Hawaii. I figured I’d have the aloha vibe and be chill but my hands were quite shaky and probably the worst stroke of the day, unfortunately.”
For Rory McIlroy, it was another frustrating Sunday.
It was the seventh time in the past 13 months that McIlroy has been in the final pairing and failed to win. His only PGA Tour victory last year was when he came from behind on Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
McIlroy went flat when he needed fireworks, unable to change the direction of the final round s the opportunity began to slip away from him.
“I didn’t press at all, I was very patient, it’s just something I’m going to have to persist in, just keep putting myself in these positions and honestly, I don’t think anyone could have beaten Xander today,” said McIlroy, who began the final round three strokes behind Woodland and finished T4 at 15 under after a closing 72.
Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design BB 7X
3-wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8X
5-wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (18 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8X
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro 19 (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X 100
Putter: Odyssey O-Works Red #7 CH
Grips: Golf Pride Z Grip Cord
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X
Republished with permission from Global Golf Post