KAPALUA, Hawaii – Rarely can a player point with complete conviction to a singular moment that proved pivotal to victory. In Xander Schauffele’s case Sunday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, there were actually two moments.
Following a bogey at the first hole that dropped him six strokes off the lead, Schauffele rebounded with four birdies over five holes. But it wasn’t until he reached his second shot at the par-5 ninth hole that he started to consider his title chances.
“It was just a straightforward chip. On the upslope it's always into the grain, I had a 56-degree [wedge],” said Schauffele of his 54-foot pitch shot that dropped into the hole for eagle. “I thought to myself it would be kind of cool and pretty funny if I just chip in right now to spice things up because I looked at the leaderboard and saw that I was kind of trailing.”
Three holes later Schauffele’s title chances were given another boost when his approach shot from 102 yards at the par-4 12th hole dropped for another eagle.
“I was hitting the gap wedge on the range this morning with that little board and I was landing it just short, which was 102 (yards), so I figured take a little off that and it happened to one hop in there,” he said.
Schauffele, who closed with a 62 to beat Gary Woodland by a stroke for his fourth PGA Tour victory, said it was the eagle at No. 12 that gave him hope he could win.
“I looked up (at the leaderboard). I didn't take too long of a look, but I just sort of got a quick feel of where I was,” he said.