Tournament of Champions: Xander Schauffele snatches Hawaii title
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 14/01/19 1:36pm
Xander Schauffele produced a brilliant fightback to snatch a dramatic victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, as Rory McIlroy’s hopes faded on the final day.
Schauffele went into the final round five strokes back and slipped further behind with an opening-hole bogey, only to fire a course record-equalling 62 and claim a one-shot victory.
Overnight leader Gary Woodland had to settle for second despite a five-under 68, with former champion Justin Thomas in third spot and McIlroy a further three strokes back in tied-fourth.
Woodland began the day three clear but saw his lead reduced to two when McIlroy chipped to tap-in range at the third, before the pair exchanged two-putt birdies at the par-five fifth.
Schauffele briefly moved within one of the lead after following three straight gains from the fifth with a pitch-in eagle from off the ninth green, only for Woodland to get up-and-down from the rough to make a close-range birdie on the par-five.
McIlroy missed a 10-foot birdie chance on the same hole to reach the turn three off the pace, as Woodland kicked off his back nine with a 25-foot birdie and made a 15-footer to save par at the next.
Schauffele holed-out from 107 yards on the 12th fairway for eagle and picked up another shot at the driveable 14th to join Woodland on 20 under, before adding a close-range gain at the next to take the outright lead.
McIlroy's challenge ended when he found thick grass off the 14th tee on his way to a bogey, while Woodland moved back alongside Schauffele with a two-putt birdie at the par-five next.
The momentum switched back in Schauffele's favour when he rolled in a 10-foot gain at the 17th, only for Woodland to convert from a similar distance and also get to 22 under.
Schauffele completed his remarkable round with a two-putt birdie from 15 feet at the par-five last to edge back ahead, with Woodland unable to match the final-hole gain to force a play-off.
A run of pars along the closing stretch left McIlroy eight strokes adrift alongside defending champion Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman, while Brooks Koepka lost his world No 1 status after finishing in 24th position.