Sentry Tournament of Champions: Xander Schauffele wins with course record

Heather Diaz
January 9, 2019

A subdued Rory McIlroy said he would remain patient after another disappointing final round scuppered his chances of victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday.

The 34-year-old American was more aggressive and fired his second straight six-under 67 to grab a three-shot halfway lead.

American Xander Schauffele, the 2017 Tour Championship victor, jumped out of the pack and ran down Woodland with an wonderful final-round of 11-under par 62 that included two eagles - one from a chip-in at the par-five ninth and then a 100-metre wedged hole-out at the par-four 12 hole.

Rory McIlroy briefly caught him for the lead until the birdies stopped falling.

'Birdie-fest' "I knew it was going to be a birdie-fest coming in", he said.

Failing to deliver in the final round after playing himself into contention is becoming a bit of a familiar refrain for McIlroy.

His par left Woodland in solo second, and marked the seventh time he has failed to convert a 54-hole lead or share of the lead into a victory on the PGA Tour.

"It's just something I am going to have to persist with, keep putting myself in these situations", he said on Sunday. "Honestly I don't think anyone could have lived with Xander today".

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He finished with back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes to equal a record held by just four other players, and ended the tournament on 23-under overall. The next day, all it took was one big putt. His chip-in for eagle at the ninth boosted him into second place, just one shot back.

He was still somewhat dazed when he stepped outside the scoring trailer as Woodland was walking off the 18th green, having missed a 10-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff at Kapalua.

"These are all stepping stones in the right direction and I think the end goal is for me to be able to go wire-to-wire and obviously a major would be nice but go wire-to-wire and show myself that I've got the nerve to do it".

Rookie Cameron Champ (68) and Xander Schauffele (67) are keeping Thomas company at seven under, five adrift of Woodland. "You have an iron into the par 5 in the middle of the fairway on the last hole, you expect to make birdie".

"I shot two under and it felt like an 80 next to him", said Leishman.

"I probably pushed a little too hard, and it didn't really work out for me", McIlroy said.

This year will be McIlroy's 11th appearance at Augusta, and he has finished in the top 10 during the last five years. Justin Thomas carded a 65 to finish alone in third on 274.

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