Making his tournament debut and beginning the final round two strokes back, PGA TOUR rookie and 26-seed Xander Schauffele hung up a 2-under-par 35-33=68 on Sunday at East Lake Golf Club to reach 12-under 268, good for a one-shot victory over runner-up and 2-seed Justin Thomas.
The 23-year-old becomes the first rookie to win the TOUR Championship and the first rookie to win any FedExCup (FEC) Playoffs event. He is the third player – in the FEC era – to win the season finale in their first appearance, joining Bill Haas (2011) and Henrik Stenson (2013).
Thomas, who closed with 66, bags the season-long race for the FEC, 660 points clear of 1-seed Jordan Spieth, who wrapped with 67 for T7 and dropped to 2nd in the standings.
Thomas is the sixth straight FEC champion who entered the playoff finale as a 6-seed or higher and the fourth in the last five years to win it all as the 2-seed.
Georgia alums Russell Henley (65) and Kevin Kisner (70) shared third place, two adrift, while second-round co-leader and third-round leader Paul Casey labored to a one-birdie four-bogey 73 for solo 5th, three back.
1st- Xander Schauffele (-12) 69-66-65-68= 268
2nd- Justin Thomas (-11) 67-66-70-66= 269
T3- Russell Henley (-10) 67-71-67-65= 270
T3- Kevin Kisner (-10) 68-68-64-70= 270
5th- Paul Casey (-9) 66-67-65-73= 271
With FEC points quadrupled, Schauffele collects 2,000 FEC points for the victory and vaults 23 spots to 3rd in the FEC standings.
Top 5 FEC Standings entering the TOUR Championship:
1. Jordan Spieth (finished T7)
2. Justin Thomas (finished runner-up)
3. Dustin Johnson (T17)
4. Marc Leishman (T24)
5. Jon Rahm (T7)
Note: 4-seed Leishman, who posted finishes of MC-3-1-T24 in the Playoffs, dropped to a career-best 6th in the final standings, while Hideki Matsuyama, who entered the Playoffs as the 1-seed, settled for a career-best 8th after disappointing finishes of: MC-T23-T47-T26.
Final Top 5 in FEC Standings:
1. Justin Thomas (UP one spot)
2. Jordan Spieth (DOWN one)
3. Xander Schauffele (UP 23)
4. Dustin Johnson (DOWN one)
5. Jon Rahm
Note: First-time member though not a rookie Rahm posted finishes of T3-T4-T5-T7 and joins Spieth (P2-2-T7-T7) and Justin Rose (T10-T10-T2-T10) as the only three players with top-10 finishes in all four postseason events.
Schauffele, a pre-tourney 90/1 outright, bags his second PGA TOUR title in his 30th career event – both come-from-behind wins – second this season in 28 starts:
2017: TOUR Championship (come from behind, 2-shot deficit)
Winning Margin: 1 shot
Career Start: 30
2017: The Greenbrier Classic (come from behind, 3-shot deficit)
Winning Margin: 1 shot
Career Start: 23
Interestingly, Schauffele has now played 97 career rounds on TOUR and has not led/co-led after Rounds 1, 2 or 3. His only two leads have come after Round 4, which afterall, is when it counts.
Schauffele becomes the sixth multiple winner on TOUR this season – the only rookie – and is a virtual lock for Rookie of the Year.
Multiple Winners (season):
Justin Thomas: 5 (one major)
Jordan Spieth: 3 (one major)
Note: The four winners of the Playoffs events, D. Johnson (The NT), Thomas (Dell), Leishman (BMW) and Schauffele (TOUR Championship) all were multiple winners this season.
20 made cuts
8 missed cuts
11 top 25s
4 top 10s
4 top 5s
Schauffele is the first rookie to win two TOUR events in his rookie campaign since Keegan Bradley in 2011. All four of his top 10s doubled as top 5s, highlighted by his two wins and T5 at the U.S. Open in his major championship debut.
The California native and resident claims his first FEC Playoffs victory in four postseason events and first top 10:
THE NORTHERN TRUST: T17 (71-66-72-68)
Dell Technologies: T53 (69-74-72-70)
BMW Championship: T20 (72-70-65-67)
TOUR Championship: 1st (69-66-65-68)
He recorded red numbers in 11 (of 16) rounds in the Playoffs, including his last seven consecutive.
Final Top 10 in FEC Standings:
1. Justin Thomas (career best)
3. Xander Schauffele (career best)
5. Jon Rahm (career best)
6. Marc Leishman (career best)
8. Hideki Matsuyama (career best)
9. Justin Rose
10. Brooks Koepka (career best)
Note: Spieth, the pre-tourney fave (9/2), was the only past winner of the TOUR Championship in the field as well as the only past FEC champ. He was looking to join Tiger Woods (2007, 2009) as the only multiple winners of the FEC. Instead, the 24-year-old becomes the eighth straight 1-seed to not win it all. The last 1-seed to go on to win the FEC was Woods in 2009.
Field Scoring Average:
This was the 11th playing of the TOUR Championship (in the FEC era) with all 11 contested at East Lake:
7,362 yards; par 70 (35-35)
Schauffele: 69-66-65-68 for 9.533 SG: Total
Note: Schauffele’s 9.533 was the lowest winning SG: Total of the season
Schauffele’s Position by Round:
How Schauffele Won on Sunday:
After opening in 69-66-65, the Web.com Tour grad began T2, two shy of 54-hole leader Casey.
Playing out of the penultimate twosome, he hit eight (of 14) fairways and 12 greens in regulation (GIR), losing 0.857 strokes approaching-the-green but gaining 0.762 off-the-tee and 1.029 around-the-green.
The SDSU alum squared a lone bogey-5 at hole 4, outpaced by three circles at 6, 13 and 18, all from inside of six feet. He posted 1.833 putts per GIR and 0.899 SG: Putting with 29 total putts.
Heading to the 72nd hole, Schauffele was tied with Thomas, who posted 11-under one group ahead. Thomas birdied 16 and 17, but failed to circle the par-5 finisher after driving into the rough and a forced layup.
Schauffele crushed his tee ball 347 yards in the fairway, leaving 219. He hit his second 203 yards, just short of the surface and used the flat stick two times from 48’9” away, knee-knocking a rim-job from 29 inches for the win.
Earlier on the back nine, he canned three par-savers from between five and 13 feet, including from 12’10” at 14. Overall, the rookie played his final 14 holes in blemish-free 3-under.
How Schauffele Won the Tournament:
Ranked 1stin SG: Off-the-Tee; T1 in Eagles, Bogeys and Par-5 Scoring.
Ranked 2nd in SG: Tee-to-Green and Par-4 Scoring.
Schauffele’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 30 players):
Eagles: 1 (T1)
Birdies: 17 (T7)
Bogeys: 7 (T1)
Par-3 Scoring: 3.13 (21st)
Par-4 Scoring: 3.85 (2nd)
Par-5 Scoring: 4.13 (T1)
Driving Distance (all drives): 306.0 yards (4th)
Driving Accuracy: 34/56 (T9) at 60.71%
GIR: 51/72 (T6) at 70.83%
Proximity: 36’4” (T21)
Putts per GIR: 1.745 (T14)
Total Putts: 115 (T12)
Putts by Round: 32-26-28-29
Scrambling: 14/21 (7th) at 66.67%
SG: Off-the-Tee: 4.589 (1st)
SG: Approach-the-Green: 0.287 (15th)
SG: Around-the-Green: 3.590 (3rd)
SG: Putting: 1.067 (13th)
SG: Tee-to-Green: 8.465 (2nd)
Updated Top 10 in Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR):
With a Strength of Field rating of 470 (up from 446 last year), Schauffele banks 60.00 world-ranking points and climbs 34 places to a career-high 32ndin OWGR.
5. Jon Rahm
6. Rory McIlroy (UP two)
7. Jason Day (DOWN one)
8. Rickie Fowler (DOWN one)
10. Sergio Garcia
Note: Entering the 3rd leg of the Playoffs (BMW), there had been 10 straight winners of a Playoffs event that were inside the top 15 in OWGR at the time of their respective victories.
Leishman won the BMW at 22nd in OWGR and Schauffele won the TOUR Championship at 66thin OWGR. Schauffele was the second-lowest in the 30-man field in OWGR with Patrick Cantlay checking in at 76th, who was the only other rookie in the field.
Justin Thomas: The second-round co-leader and World No. 4 authored a 4-under-par 33-33=66 in the final round to post 11-under 269, up two spots to solo 2nd but fell one short.
As mentioned, the runner-up finish was enough to supplant 1-seed Spieth and win the $10M FEC bonus. Interestingly, it was his first runner-up finish in 94 career starts (90 pro).
The 24-year-old wraps the postseason with three top 10s in the four events (T47, BMW), highlighted by his win at the Dell Tech: (T6-1-T47-2).
After kicking off in 67-66-70, he began T4, five back of 54-hole leader Casey.
Playing out of the third-to-last twosome, the Kentuckian hit seven (of 14) fairways and 12 GIR, gaining 0.764 strokes approaching-the-green and 1.448 tee-to-green.
He squared a lone bogey-5 at 13, offset by five circles at 3 (from 15'8"), 6, 12, 16 and 17, just missing a closing birdie from 23'3". Thomas recorded 1.583 putts per GIR and 2.385 SG: Putting with 26 total putts.
Making his 25th start of the season, Thomas and Spieth (23 starts) ended up deadlocked with a TOUR-leading 12 top 10s, but Thomas won five times with one major and one runner-up versus three wins for Spieth, one major and three runners-up.
Voting opened today for TOUR Player of the Year with four nominees (listed alphabetically): D. Johnson, Matsuyama, Spieth and Thomas.
Thomas is a lock for POY honors.
19 made cuts
6 missed cuts
14 top 25s
12 top 10s
9 top 5s
FEC Rank: 1st
Season Leaders in Top-10 Finishes:
Jordan Spieth (12 in 23 events)
Justin Thomas (12 in 25 events)
Jon Rahm (11 in 23)
Rickie Fowler (10 in 21)
Paul Casey (9 in 24)
Matt Kuchar (9 in 26)
Justin Rose (8 in 18)
Dustin Johnson (8 in 20)
Kevin Kisner (8 in 28)
Tony Finau (8 in 29)
Hideki Matsuyama (7 in 22)
Brooks Koepka (7 in 24)
Marc Leishman (7 in 25)
Brian Harman (7 in 30)
Charley Hoffman (7 in 31)
2017 Tournament Winners (47 events/48 winners):
41 (of 48) winners this season were 33-years-old or younger
28 winners were in their 20s (Schauffele, age: 23)
15 were in their 30s
5 were in their 40s
23 (of 48) winners this season had a top-25 finish the start prior (47.9%). Schauffele was the fifth consecutive:
16 (of 48) winners this season had a top-10 finish the start prior (33.3%).
Yahoo! Low Rounds:
R1: Kyle Stanley (64)
R2: Patrick Reed (65)
R3: Kevin Kisner (64)
R4: Russell Henley (65)
R2: Jon Rahm (67)
Leader/co-leaders by Round:
R1: Kyle Stanley (finished T20): Drops to 0-for-3 as 18-hole leader/co-leader
R2: Justin Thomas (2nd): Drops to 4-for-7 as 36-hole leader/co-leader
R2: Paul Casey (5th): Drops to 1-for-5 as 36-hole leader/co-leader
R2: Webb Simpson (T13): Drops to 1-for-10 as 36-hole leader/co-leader
R3: Paul Casey (5th): Drops to 1-for-3 as 54-hole leader/co-leader
TOUR Rookies &/or First-Timers:
TOUR Rookies: 2
Top-10 finishes: 1
Xander Schauffele: The 23-year-old claims top-rookie honors for a fourth time this season in 28 starts (T24, Wells Fargo; T35, Quicken Loans; Win, Greenbrier).
Patrick Cantlay: The 25-year-old was the top-rookie finisher in the first three legs of the postseason but stalled out to a T20 on even-par 280 (74-66-71-69). He finishes the season 13-for-13 with eight top 25s and four top 10s, highlighted by a career-best 2nd at the Valspar.
FEC Rank: 29th
OWGR: 70th (career high)
Playoffs Form: T20-T9-T13-T10
Top-10 finishes: 3
Schauffele was obviously the top debutant; here are the other top-10 finishers:
Tony Finau: The 28-year-old finished T7 on 7-under 273 (68-71-68-66). After opening the postseason in T54-T65, he posted back-to-back T7s. The Utahan concludes his third season on TOUR 24-for-29 with 12 top 25s and eight top 10s, highlighted by a T3 at the Valero Texas Open.
FEC Rank: 19th (career best)
OWGR: 49th (career high)
Jon Rahm: The first-time member though not a rookie finished T7 on 7-under 273 (67-67-70-69), his fourth straight top 10 in the Playoffs.
The 22-year-old wraps 21-for-23 on the season with 14 top 25s and 11 top 10s, nine of those top 5s, highlighted by his maiden win at the Farmers 19 starts ago.
FEC Rank: 5th
Playoffs Form: T7-T5-T4-T3
Consecutive Top 10s on TOUR:
Jordan Spieth (T7-T7-2-P2)
Jon Rahm (T7-T5-T4-T3)
Justin Rose (T10-T2-T10-T10)
Tony Finau (T7-T7)
Matt Kuchar (T10-T5)
Consecutive Top-10 streaks ended:
Marc Leishman (T24-1-3)
17 of the Top 25 in OWGR were in the field
8 finished in the top 10:
No. 2 Jordan Spieth (T7)
No. 4 Justin Thomas (2nd)
No. 5 Jon Rahm (T7)
No. 10 Sergio Garcia (T10)
No. 11 Brooks Koepka (6th)
No. 13 Matt Kuchar (T10)
No. 14 Justin Rose (T10)
No. 16 Paul Casey (5th)
Other Top-10 Finishers:
No. 26 Kevin Kisner (T3)
No. 51 Russell Henley (T3)
No. 53 Tony Finau (T7)
No. 66 Xander Schauffele (1st)
No. 1 Dustin Johnson (T17)
No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama (T26)
No. 6 Jason Day (T17)
No. 7 Rickie Fowler (T26)
No. 15 Marc Leishman (T24)