Sentry Tournament of Champions
Winning on the PGA Tour is hard, just ask Gary woodland. He held a 3 shot lead over Rory McIlroy and the rest of the field heading into Sunday’s final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. And what did he do? He went out, shot a 5-under 68 on Sunday and lost.
Throughout his career Woodland has not fared well when holding the lead after 54 holes. In 8 attempts with the 54-hole lead, Gary is unsuccessful in all 8 attempts. His three career victories have all come when Gary trailed on the final day. He seems to play more aggressively and freely when he’s trailing in a tournament.
The player to chase down Woodland? Xander Schauffele. This kid has the killer instinct of a cheetah, and after a bogey on the first hole, Xander caught fire and began attacking. He closed the front 9 with an eagle on #9 that put the leaders in his sights, but the eagle hole out 3 holes later put him in the thick of the hunt.
Schauffele ended his final round with an 11-under 62 that tied the course record and finished at 23-under overall. His bid for 61 on 18 fell short as the eagle putt from about 15 feet went sliding past the hole on the left side, and now he had to wait to see if Woodland could match. Gary’s birdie putt from 10 feet never found the line and Schauffele had won.
Xander Schauffele is one of the up-and-coming stars to watch on the PGA Tour. He doesn’t blink when the moment gets big and his game only rises to the occasion. I was dismayed to see him left off the Ryder cup team that took on Le Golf National. I thought his play over 2018 earned him a spot over longtime veteran Phil Mickelson.
The Sentry Tournament of Champions is played in Hawaii at the Plantation Course on the island of Maui. Even though Hawaii is a vacation in Paradise for these guys and their families, they’re all business once they tee it up on the course.
The Tournament of Champions is an invitational for the winners from the prior PGA Tour season. There are a lot of bragging rights on the line amongst one of the toughest fields that players will face all season long.
Another exciting part of the Sentry Tournament of Champions is that the players tend to interact with the fans a bit more freely. With smaller, more intimate crowds, the atmosphere is very laid-back. Players are more apt to let their guards down a bit and engage with the calmer fans.
Since the end of the 2018 FedEx Cup Playoffs, Xander has been hot. He won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and now the Tournament of Champions in Maui. With 4 wins, Schauffele knows how to win when the moment is biggest. The season is young, but he has climbed to #6 in the OWGR and currently leads the 2019 FedEx Cup points standings.
These are the clubs Xander used to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions. (As reported by PGATOUR):
Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero 9°
Shaft: Graphite Design BB 7X
Callaway Apex Pro 19 prototype (4-PW)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
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