So close and yet so far for Xander Schauffele at Tour Championships



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So close and yet so far for Xander Schauffele at Tour Championships

When the PGA Tour converted to a strokes-based scoring format for the Tour Championship last year, the biggest concern was having someone win the event and FedExCup who didn’t shoot the week’s lowest score. If not for the staggered start, Xander Schauffele may have been able to win the event as he did three years ago.

His 15-under 265 score was three shots clear of Rahm and four shots better than both Johnson and Thomas. But because Schauffele has not won this season, he started the week at 3 under and seven shots back. A closing 66 continues his strong pattern of success at East Lake.

It included five birdies and got him a share of second place and a $4.5 million payday. Not a bad day at the office . . . Under the staggered-start format introduced for the PGA Tour season finale last year, Schauffele started the tournament seven shots behind Johnson on three under par, and although he fired the best score of the 30 competitors at East Lake, he had to settle for a share of second place with Justin Thomas.

Simple maths not always the answer

It took just a simple calculation to determine that Dustin Johnson, who began the week with at 10-under total as the playoff points leader, may have won the event at 21 under but he would have finished third – and four strokes behind Xander Schauffele – in actual four-round scoring.

For the week, Schauffele was 15 under and three shots ahead of Scottie Scheffler, but on the strokes-based and official leaderboard, Schauffele finished second (18 under) and Scheffler was fifth (14 under). Xander Schauffele was three shots better than the field at the Tour Championship, but he insisted that Dustin Johnson was a deserving winner of the FedExCup.

"DJ deserves to win," said Schauffele after a closing 66 saw him finish on 18 under, three behind the champion. "He won the first one, tied first in the second, and I don't know where he finished here, but he obviously is playing great golf, and I think that's what the Play-Offs are all about.

There was some solace for Schauffele. The world ranking uses the true leaderboard to allocate points and he moved to seventh in the world from 11th. One thing is for sure, Xander Schauffele has a bright golf future ahead of him and will certainly grow from strength to strength. And with $4.5 million in his back pocket, he at least still has something to smile about while he licks his wounds.