Xander Schauffele played his final 16 holes in 12 under par to get a one-shot victory. 

By Daniel Rapaport
January 06, 2019

After making a sloppy bogey on the relatively benign first hole at Kapalua on Sunday, Xander Schauffele found himself six shots back of Gary Woodland's lead. On a calm day, on a golf course whose chief defense is wind, that may have seemed like an insurmountable deficit.

Four hours, eight birdies and two eagles later, Schauffele walked off the 18th green having done just enough to pick up his second win of the young wraparound season.

Schauffele fired a course record-tying round of 11-under 62 to finish 24 under for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, edging 54-hole leader Woodland by a single shot. Now a four-time PGA Tour winner, the 25-year-old has firmly established himself as a threat to win golf's biggest prizes; this victory will move the Californian to No. 6 in the world rankings and No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings. 

"I'm honestly a little speechless," Schauffele said after the round. 

This is the first tournament of the year, but Schauffele's may well end up being the finest final-round performance of 2019. He delivered two of the best pressure-packed shots you'll ever see on the final two holes. From 202 yards away and a downhill lie in the 17th fairway, Schauffele fearlessly attacked a treacherous left pin, firing a mid-iron to nine feet before center-cutting the putt.

Next came Kapalua's signature 660-yard finishing hole, and Schauffele hit a perfect draw into the center of the fairway to give himself a good look at the green. From 276 yards out, he came up with yet another perfect draw, carving a fairway wood to inside 12 feet. 

The eagle putt slid by on the right side, but Schauffele had no issues brushing in his eighth birdie of the day to post 24 under. 

That meant Woodland had to make a birdie to force a playoff, and he put himself in position to do exactly that after finding the fairway. But his long-iron approach didn't draw as planned, leaving a tricky pitch down a ridge. He eventually found himself with an 10-footer to force extra holes, and considering how well he putted all day, there was little reason to believe it wasn't going in. But he made his worst putting stroke of the round, and the putt missed well right without scaring the hole. That clinched the victory for Schauffele, who erased a three-shot deficit to win the WGC-HSBC Champions event in October. 

This will be a tough loss for Woodland to swallow, as he played virtually mistake-free golf in shooting a bogey-free, five-under 68. The same can't be said for Woodland's playing partner Rory McIlroy, who got himself to within two shots before stalling considerably. On a day when everyone around him made birdies galore, McIlroy didn't make one after the fifth hole, eventually settling for a one-under 72 that saw him finish tied for fourth alongside Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman. McIlroy has not won any of the last seven times he's played in the last group in a final round. 

Justin Thomas finished solo third at 18 under on the strength of a closing 65.

Schauffele's first eagle of the day came via a chip in on the par-5 ninth.

The next one came just three holes later, where he holed out from 107 yards to get himself within a shot of Woodland's lead.

He added back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 and missed a makeable birdie putt on 16 before that finishing flurry coming home.

Earlier in the day, Brooks Koepka's four-day total of four under saw him finish in 24th, well worse than he needed to keep his world No. 1 ranking, ensuring that Justin Rose will be the world's top player come Monday morning.

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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)