From the PGA Tour: Thomas takes the season as Schauffele wins the Tour
Xander Schauffele’s sank a precarious putt that circled the hole on the 18th green at East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta (par 70) to move to 12 (268 total) under par and win the 2017 season ending Tour Championship. The 23-year-old American becomes the first rookie to achieve this honor. Schauffele said that his hands were shaking when making that final putt on the 18th. “I thought it missed, that’s why I couldn’t even react to celebrate because I thought I just missed a two-footer to win. Still kind of in shock,” he said. Schauffele looked startled when he was told he’d just won US$3.58 million. He barely squeaked into the Tour Championship and was ranked 26 out of the 30 man final roster, an unlikely champion considering the starstudded field. After his remarkable and historical win Schauffele is a shoe-in for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year for the 2016-2017season.
The week belonged to Schauffele, but the year belonged to 24-year-old American Justin Thomas. He had a putt from about four meters to tie Schauffele and force a playoff and missed it. He settled for second place in the Tour Championship which was good enough to win the year-long Fedex Cup and its $10m bonus. Thomas was in second place in total Fedex Cup points coming into the Tour Championship just behind Fedex Cup leader Jordan Spieth. Thomas edged out Spieth who finished the Tour Championship tied for seventh at 7 under par. Spieth, three times winner this year still collected a staggering $3.3m for his troubles when combining the Fedex Cup and Tour Championship payoff. In fact, the total prize money for the Tour Championship was $8.75m and the Fedex Cup $25m for a whopping total of almost $34m paid out on the weekend.
Thomas, for his part won five times during the 2016-2017 season which included capturing his first major, i.e. the PGA Championship. He is a lock in to be crowned the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. He reflected on how his season got under way this year when he said: “And how crazy it was, we started the year with a 75 in Napa looking like I’m going to miss the cut and I end up shooting 66 to make the cut on the number. We’ve definitely come a long way since that 75.” He shot a 59 at the Sony Open early in the year and then he set the lowest score to par ever recorded at a US Open in May when he shot a nine under 63. Going further back, Thomas holds the distinction of being the youngest player in PGA Tour history to make a PGA Tour cut, a feat he accomplished when he was only 16 years old. He knew he had a great chance to win the Fedex Cup during Sunday’s final round but did not want to know where he stood after the third round: “I don’t know who it was in the scoring trailer, scoring tent, whatever, yesterday that was going to give me an update and I interrupted, I said, “I don’t care to know, don’t tell me anything. You can tell Jimmy [caddie] whatever you want, but I don’t want to know anything.” Then he started and just said: “I don’t want to know anything, I’m good and I walked out.”
Thomas is a close friend of Spieth off the course, but the two men are fierce competitors. Considering Spieth’s spectacular year, Thomas had to execute with dogged determination to hold Spieth off for Player of the Year and to win the Fedex Cup. Thomas said earlier in the week that he sees no reason why he can’t win many more majors during the course of
his career. The PGA Tour is now overflowing with young talent and the 2016-2017season, more than any other, has stood witness to this shift. There were 28 wins by 19 different players in their 20s this season, which is the most in PGA Tour history. A candid Thomas expressed a fitting plan to celebrate the close of a spectacular
year when he said: “I don’t know if it’s sad or what it says about me, but that’s something I think about when I win a cool trophy, is man, I get to take this to a place that I love and they [friends and family] get to fill it up with whatever I want [to drink] all night and I get to enjoy it with them because those are people that have been great to me and people that I enjoy spending time with and people that I want to enjoy these moments with.”