|Xander Schauffele plays his third shot on the 17th hole during the final round of The Greenbrier Classic held at the Old White TPC on Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. — AFP Photo|
LOS ANGELES — Xander Schauffele fired a three-under 67 to come from behind and win the Greenbrier Classic by one stroke and claim the first USPGA Tour victory of his career on Sunday.
Schauffele, who has been on a roll since contending at the 2017 US Open, finished with a 14-under par 266 total to edge fellow American Robert Streb by one shot after Streb managed a 69 in the fourth round.
"I am at a loss for words," Schauffele said after a win that earned him a berth in this month’s British Open. "This has changed my life. I need a little bit of time to take it all in."
The 23-year-old Schauffele finished strong, making birdie on two of his final three holes on The Old White course in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Schauffele, who is of German, Japanese and Chinese ancestry, began and ended his final round with birdies. His approach on the par-four first landed close to the pin then spun backwards leaving him with an easy two foot putt to get to 12-under. He closed with a four foot putt on the par-three 18th.
After an emotional celebration on the 18th green, Schauffele said he needed to take some time by himself to reflect.
"It is slowly sinking in. I had a couple of moments to myself in the locker room. It is an incredible feeling," he said.
He finished tied for fifth at last month’s US Open after a final round 69 that left him six shots back of winner Brooks Koepka.
"The US Open was a huge moment in my career," he said. "One of biggest stages and to tie for fifth was huge for me mentally. It gave me confidence and allowed me to win this week."
Streb shot a one-under 69 and finished in solo second while American Jamie Lovemark, who shot a 69, and third round leader Sebastian Munoz of Colombia tied for third at 12-under 268, two shots back of Schauffele.
Munoz shot a disappointing two-over 72 as the 24-year-old rookie was trying to go ire-to-wire and also join Camilo Villegas as the only Colombians to win on the USPGA Tour.
His final round stumble did not come as a huge surprise as in its seven-year history, the Greenbrier Classic has never had a first, second or third round leader go on to win.
Streb, Lovemark and Munoz had the consolation of also qualifying for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
There were four spots available for players among the top 12 who were not already qualified for the year’s next major.
Kelly Kraft and Russell Henley both shot 69s Sunday to finish in a tie for fifth at 11-under 269. — AFP