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Schauffele an unlikely winner of the Tour Championship

Chris Vivlamore, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Golf

Just one year ago, Schauffele earned $149,292 on the Web.com Tour. He missed his PGA Tour card by less than $100 as he finished 26th in the standings, one spot short of an automatic berth. However, he earned his card by finishing 15th in the tour playoffs.

Just look at where he is now.

Schauffele advanced through the PGA Tour playoffs in dramatic fashion. He shot 6-under par on the final six holes of the BMW Championship to move from 32nd to 26th in the point standings, a jump of more than the two spots necessary to make the field of 30 in the season-ending event. He finished the final playoff standings in third, behind Thomas and Spieth, from his distant starting position. As part of a seven-sequence scenario, Spieth needed to finish in a three-way tie for 23rd and Thomas in a tie for seventh or worse for the Schauffele to win the FedEx Cup with the tournament victory. Spieth finished tied for seventh at 7-under par.

Kevin Kisner, fresh off a return from watching his University of Georgia win a college football game over Mississippi State Saturday night via a helicopter ride, was tied with Schauffele at 10-under par headed into the final round. They trailed leader Paul Casey by two strokes. Kisner finished tied for third with his Bulldog brethren Russell Henley after an even-par round. Most of his title hopes were dashed by back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11. Casey dropped to fifth place with a 3-over par final round. In the past 30 Tour Championships, 19 third-round leaders went on to victory. However, the Englishman was done in by back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5. His lone birdie of the day came on the final hole, too little and too late.

Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Marc Leishman, who along with Thomas and Spieth controlled their FedEx Cup playoff fates, were never in contention.

Schauffele said he didn't look at the leaderboard until he finished the par-3 15th, the hole surrounded by water that swallowed both Kisner and Casey in the final round. That's when he knew he led by a stroke. He had an inkling he was among the leaders well before.

 

"I think I was the second-worst ranked player in the field so when you have all the Golf Channel and NBC Golf guys on you the entire round, I had a feeling I was right up there," Schauffele said. "That's why I didn't feel a need to look at the leaderboard to know exactly where I was at."

He would need the final putt to drop to break a tie with Thomas, who had finished with a par just one group before, and exceed his every expectation.

(c)2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com

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