Saturday, November 18, 2017
Golf

Xander Schauffele wins first PGA Tour title at Greenbrier Classic

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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 tour rookie made a 3-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Greenbrier Classic by a stroke over Robert Streb for his first PGA victory.

Schauffele closed with 3-under 67 and finished at 14-under 266 to cap a day-long duel with Streb (69) and third-round leader Sebastian Munoz (72), who tied for third with Jamie Lovemark (69) at 12 under.

Schauffele, 23, who took up golf after giving up soccer because his coaches wanted him to switch from offense to defense, tied for fifth in his first U.S. Open.

"The U.S. Open was a huge moment in my career," he 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."

Schauffele shot from 94th to 27th in the FedEx Cup standings and, in his third year as a pro, more than doubled his career earnings of $1.18 million with the $1.28 million top prize.

"Everybody knows I'm a late bloomer," Schauffele said. "To jump into the top 30 (in the FedEx Cup) is something special for me."

Schauffele, Streb, Munoz and Lovemark earned spots in the British Open next week. The leading four players not already exempt from among the top-12 finishers qualified. 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.

At age 53, Davis Love III fell short in his bid to become the oldest tour winner. He started his round four strokes back, bogeyed the first two holes and was never a threat. He shot 75 and was 5 under.

LPGA: Katherine Kirk won the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic by one stroke in Oneida, Wis., for her first tournament title since 2010. Kirk, the third-round leader, shot 2-under 70 for 22-under 266 and a spot in this week's U.S. Women's Open. Ashleigh Buhai (65) was second.

PGA Europe: Jon Rahm, one of the sport's hottest young players, won the Irish Open by six strokes and a record tournament score, shooting 7-under 65 in a final round marked by a rules controversy in Portstewart, Northern Ireland. Rahm, 22, totaled 24-under 264, breaking the record to par by three shots, for his second victory of 2017 and in little over a year as a pro. He avoided a two-shot penalty for replacing his ball incorrectly on the sixth green after emails and calls were received from TV viewers. Andy McPhee, the tour's chief referee, said Rahm made a "reasonable judgment" after having moved his marker one putter length to the side to get it off the line of playing partner Daniel Im.

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