Xander Schauffele Downs Tony Finau in WGC Shanghai Playoff
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
Four of the five top golfers in the world were playing at the opening round of the Word Golf Championships but Xander Schauffele didn’t seem to mind. The 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year downed the entire field in Shanghai, China for the win which he capped off by beating Tony Finau in a playoff.
Schauffele, who played his college golf at San Diego, won twice in 2017 but went winless in 2018. He apparently pushed a winless year aside as he focused in on Tony Finau down the stretch by nailing two long birdies to force a playoff. Then, he did it again. His birdie putt from 30 feet away rolled into the cup sealing the playoff win over Finau at the WGC HSBC Champions.
The 25-year-old golfer, who was celebrating his birthday the same day, said that he was happy with the first two birdies that put him in the playoff against Finau.
“When I was signing my card, I was like, 'Oh, wow. I actually went birdie-birdie to get in the playoff,” Schauffele said about forcing the extra hole against Finau. “I was just in my own world out there.”
The Water Thing
The day started with Finau four strokes to the good before Schauffele started making his run towards the front. But, the day was not as simple as sinking a long putt on the final hole. Instead, Schauffele found himself in a bit of a controversy with Justin Rose whom he was paired with.
When they took their approach shots to 18 it was Schauffele who first landed on the green. His ball came to a rest just on the edge of a slope towards a water hazard. Rose’s third shot to the green rolled into Schauffele's ball and both balls rolled into the pond.
Schauffele was allowed to place a new ball at the spot where his original one came to rest after some conferring with officials. He was not assed a penalty, but Rose was pushing him further out of contention. Schauffele kept his cool and pressed forward for the win while Rose was left to express his disappointment in not defending the tournament he had won last season.
“Tough day for everybody,” Rose said, as only three players in the final round posted scores in the 60s. “You just look at the scoreboard. Seems like everyone fell apart. It was a three-horse race all day. It was hard to keep the mistakes off the card completely today.”
Rose finished third behind Finau who said he felt like he had let the event get away from him after being a force during the first three rounds. Finau started off with an opening round of 66 followed by a second round 67. But, a 70 followed by a 71 during the final round allowed Shcauffele to push a playoff with his 68 four-under final round.
“Definitely feel like I let one get away,” Finau said. “Xander played incredible golf today. It was playing tough out there. He posted a number and made birdie on a playoff hole when it counted. Hats off to him. He played nicely today and deserved to win.”
Leaderboard thru Even
Only 20 players came in under even play at the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China. Ian Poulter was the only player to card an even score for the tournament. The event is the last of the “Asian Swing” tournaments as the PGA Tour moves back to the states next week.