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Calmer winds turn Sunday at Kapalua into 'birdie-fest'

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KAPALUA, Hawaii – In Maui, it’s all about the winds.

The Plantation Course has some the widest fairways and largest greens on the PGA Tour primarily because of the winds that buffet the layout, like those that gusted to 35 mph for the first three days at this year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Sunday was a different story, with the wind switching directions and calming considerably. The benign conditions led to predictably lower scores for the final round.

The scoring average on Sunday dropped to 69.72, compared to averages for the first three days that hovered above 71, and just a single player in the field (Francesco Molinari) shot over par on Sunday.

Full-field scores from the Sentry Tournament of Champions

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“It’s just so easy. It’s wide open fairways, soft greens and you have irons into every par 5, so you have four birdies right there,” said Justin Thomas, who closed with a 65 to finish in third place. “It’s all about the wind. Jordan [Spieth] shot 30 under [in 2016], and I’m sure it wasn’t windy that week.”

Xander Schauffele won the event after starting the final day five strokes off the lead with a nearly historic performance. Schauffele’s 12-footer for eagle at the last slid by the edge of the hole, and he tapped in for birdie and a closing 62, which tied the course record.

“It turned into a birdie-fest coming down the stretch,” said Schauffele after the lowest round of his PGA Tour career.