Schauffele surges to title
Calif. golfer ties course record of 62, outduels Woodland at Kapalua
KAPALUA — Sunday was simply Xander Schauffele’s day at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Alex Nakajima had an early feeling that it might turn out that way.
Schauffele fired a course-record-tying 11-under-par 62 on the Kapalua Plantation Course to beat Gary Woodland by one shot.
Schauffele finished at 23-under 269 — with two hole-out eagles — and then waited to see what Woodland would do. The 54-hole leader was unable to force a playoff when his 12-foot birdie putt stopped inches away from the cup on the 72nd hole.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking, honestly,” Schauffele said. “Funny enough. I was asked if I wanted to watch it, but a camera would be on me. … But I didn’t know the TV was delayed about 10 or 12 seconds, is what they were telling me. And we heard some sighs in the distance, and then I watched Gary’s putt, so it was kind of a weird transition or feeling, I guess, because he missed it in real time, and then I saw it afterwards, and then said congrats. So it was a bit strange.”
Schauffele started the day five shots behind Woodland, making his win the largest 54-hole deficit overcome in TOC history. Schauffele, a 25-year-old from La Jolla, Calif., has come from behind in all four of his PGA Tour victories, but never from more than three shots back before Sunday.
Moments after his win, he was sharing a hug with Nakajima, a family friend and the Kapalua Golf and Tennis general manager.
“He just gave me a big hug and said, ‘Congrats,’ “ Schauffele said. “Him and my dad go way back and he’s always treated us like family when we come to this island. And it’s definitely nice to be able to book those flights earlier versus last year, so looking forward to it.”
Nakajima remembers working with Xander’s father, Stefan Schauffele, at Princeville, Kauai, when both were young teaching professionals and Xander was a toddler.
“At the time, who would know that baby Xander would become a (PGA) Tour winner?” Nakajima said. “Now I talk to Xander all the time. Last year, we couldn’t wait to see him. Stefan called me and said, ‘Well Alex, where are we going? I can’t wait to get there to Kapalua. Where can we staying? Where are we eating?’ All that stuff. ‘Give me the local scoop.’ “
Woodland shot no worse than 68 all week, but for the seventh time in his career he failed to win a PGA Tour stroke-play event after holding the 54-hole lead.
“I played great all week. I played solid today,” Woodland said. “Drove the ball phenomenally, controlled it into the greens. There was 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.”
Woodland was aware of the meteoric rise Schauffele was putting on all day long playing one group in front of the final pairing of Woodland and Rory McIlroy, who finished in a tie for fourth with Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman at 15-under 277.
“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,” Woodland said. “(On the) 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 (65) finished alone in third place at 18 under.
Schauffele’s day started with a bogey on No. 1. From there, it was only stellar.
He holed out from 54 feet in front of the green on the 521-yard par-5 ninth for an eagle to get to 17 under, one behind Woodland at the time. Woodland birdied the hole moments later to push his lead to two.
Woodland drained a 30-footer for birdie on No. 11 to get to 20 under, but moments later Schauffele hit it in from 107 yards out for an eagle 2 to get to 19 under on the 420-yard 12th.
Woodland, who had two big par saves on Nos. 6 (from 6 feet) and 8 (5 feet), sank a 13-footer for par on No. 13.
Schauffele made a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 14 to tie Woodland at 20 under, and both birdied the 555-yard, par-5 15th to get to 21 under.
The frontrunners were the only players of the day to birdie the 17th to remain tied.
Schauffele smacked his tee shot on the 663-yard finishing hole 375 yards, and then his second shot from 276 yards away ran down within 12 feet for an eagle attempt.
He missed a shot at breaking the course record held by four others — K.J. Choi (2003), Graeme McDowell (2011), Jason Day (2015) and Chris Kirk (2015) — but tapped in for birdie to take the lead for the final time.
Woodland’s 22-under 270 total would have won or forced a playoff for this title 11 of the 19 previous times that this event finished four rounds at the Plantation Course.
With his fourth career win, Schauffele now leads the FedExCup standings for the 2018-19 season.
Schauffele said he did not know his eagle putt on the 18th was for the course record until after the trophy presentation.
“I did not, but I’m glad, you know, someone told me that earlier and I’m sure it would piss me off even more if someone told me that and I missed it,” he said. “So I’m glad I had no idea.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.
PGA Sentry Tournament of Champions
Sunday’s Final Round
At Kapalua Plantation Course
X. Schauffele (500), $1,300,000 72-67-68-62–269 -23
Gary Woodland (300), $759,000 67-67-68-68–270 -22
Justin Thomas (190), $475,000 67-72-70-65–274 -18
Dustin Johnson (115), $305,333 67-74-69-67–277 -15
Marc Leishman (115), $305,333 68-70-68-71–277 -15
Rory McIlroy (115), $305,333 69-68-68-72–277 -15
B. DeChambeau (90), $218,000 69-68-70-71–278 -14
Patton Kizzire (80), $191,000 69-71-71-68–279 -13
Jon Rahm (80), $191,000 70-71-69-69–279 -13
Webb Simpson (80), $191,000 70-72-72-65–279 -13
Cameron Champ (68), $162,500 71-68-74-67–280 -12
Kevin Tway (68), $162,500 66-71-72-71–280 -12
Jason Day (60), $147,000 69-71-75-66–281 -11
Charles Howell III (56), $132,000 74-70-69-69–282 -10
Andrew Putnam (56), $132,000 69-73-70-70–282 -10
Paul Casey (52), $113,000 73-71-68-71–283 -9
Troy Merritt (52), $113,000 73-71-69-70–283 -9
Ian Poulter (49), $102,000 71-69-73-71–284 -8
Brice Garnett (45), $92,333 73-72-73-68–286 -6
Matt Kuchar (45), $92,333 72-73-72-69–286 -6
Scott Piercy (45), $92,333 76-72-69-69–286 -6
Andrew Landry (40), $82,500 69-75-71-72–287 -5
Brandt Snedeker (40), $82,500 75-69-71-72–287 -5
Brooks Koepka (37), $78,000 76-70-73-69–288 -4
Billy Horschel (35), $74,000 72-75-71-72–290 -2
Patrick Reed (35), $74,000 70-75-72-73–290 -2
Keegan Bradley (30), $68,250 77-69-72-73–291 -1
Francesco Molinari (30), $68,250 73-71-73-74–291 -1
Ted Potter, Jr. (30), $68,250 75-73-71-72–291 -1
Aaron Wise (30), $68,250 74-71-73-73–291 -1
Bubba Watson (27), $65,000 70-79-74-69–292 E
Michael Kim (24), $63,500 71-72-80-73–296 +4
Satoshi Kodaira (24), $63,500 77-76-73-70–296 +4
TOC winners at Kapalua Plantation Course
x-won in playoff