Schauf­fele birdies fi­nal hole to take Green­brier Clas­sic

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JOHN RABY 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 Sun­day to win The Green­brier Clas­sic by a stroke over Robert Streb for his first tour vic­tory.

Schauf­fele closed with a 3-un­der 67 and fin­ished at 14-un­der 266 to cap a day­long duel with Streb and third-round leader Se­bas­tian Munoz.

Streb shot 69. Munoz had a 72 to tie for third with Jamie Love­mark at 12 un­der. Love­mark shot 69.

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 said. “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. 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 Sun­day 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 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.

He’s the third rookie to earn their first tour vic­tory in West Vir­ginia and the fourth overall.

JARED C. TIL­TON, GETTY IM­AGES

Xan­der Schauf­fele poses with the tro­phy af­ter his vic­tory.

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