The Associated Press
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va.–A strong finish in the U.S. Open last month helped prepare Xander Schauffele for the nerve-racking grind of chasing a title on the PGA Tour.
The rookie made a three-foot birdie putt on the final hole yesterday to win The Greenbrier Classic by a stroke over Robert Streb for his first tour victory.
Schauffele closed with a three-under 67 to finish at 14-under 266 to cap a day-long duel with Streb and third-round leader Sebastian Munoz.
Streb shot 69 yesterday while Munoz had a 72 to tie for third with Jamie Lovemark at 12-under.
Lovemark shot 69.
Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C. also shot 69 to finish at nine-under while Brantford, Ont. native David Hearn wound up at eight-under after a final-round 68.
Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont. shot 67 to jump 12 spots up the leaderboard while Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask. had a 69 to finish at six-under.
The 23-year-old Schauffele, who took up golf after giving up soccer because his coaches wanted him to switch from offence to defence, tied for fifth in his first U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
“The U.S. Open was a huge moment in my career,” Schauffele noted.
“It was one of the biggest stages, and for me to be calm and collected throughout the week, and just kind of hang on and tie for fifth, was huge for me mentally,” he stressed.
“It kind of gave me the confidence and allowed me to play to win this week.”
Watching fellow youngster Jon Rahm of Spain win the Irish Open earlier yesterday also served as motivation for Schauffele, who shot from 94th to 27th in the FedEx Cup standings.
“Everybody knows I’m a late-bloomer,” Schauffele said.
“To jump into the top 30 is something special for me.”
Schauffele, Streb, Munoz, and Lovemark also earned spots in the British Open in two weeks.
The leading four players not already exempt from the top-12 finishers qualified.
Russell Henley was the only player among the top 10 finishers who already was in.
Schauffele also punched a ticket to this year’s PGA Championship and next year’s Masters.
He already had a spot in the 2018 U.S. Open for last month’s performance.
It was another close finish in a tournament that narrowly avoided its fourth playoff since debuting in 2010.
Munoz, Streb, and Schauffele traded the lead all day, with each having their share of troubles.
As Schauffele reached the 161-yard 18th with a pitching wedge, Munoz and Streb heard the crowd’s roar from the par-five 17th green and both missed birdie putts.
Streb then found the left rough on 18 and his chip that would have forced a playoff came up short.
Munoz needed to ace the 18th to tie it but settled for par.
Munoz couldn’t become the first wire-to-wire winner of the tournament, which no third-round leader has ever won.
Yesterday marked his first top-10 finish.
“I’ll take it as a positive,” Munoz said. “It’s my best finish ever.
“It’s not like I can be mad about it.”
At age 53, Davis Love III fell short in his bid to become the oldest-ever winner on tour.
Love started his round four strokes back but bogeyed the first two holes and was never a threat.
He shot 75 to tie for 29th at five-under.