Sentry Tournament of Champions: Rory McIlroy chasing down Gary Woodland in Hawaii

Sentry Tournament of Champions: Rory McIlroy chasing down Gary Woodland in Hawaii”

Xander Schauffele produced a brilliant fightback to snatch a dramatic victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, as Rory McIlroy's hopes faded on the final day. He got off to a hot start with two birdies in his opening five holes to get to within two shots of his playing partner, but could only find a solitary bogey for the remainder of the round to end up in a tie for 4th with Dustin Johnson and Schauffele's playing partner Marc Leishman. Two eagle chips he almost made, one hitting the left edge of the cup, the other stopping inches away in the heart.

"I just still feel like an underdog", Schauffele said. "I didn't press at all, I was very patient", McIlroy told reporters after finishing equal fourth on 15-under-par, eight strokes behind Schauffele. "I gave myself plenty of chances, I hit most of the fairways, I hit most of the greens, just couldn't get the ball to drop".

He played the final round of the first major of 2018 with eventual victor Patrick Reed at the Masters but faded to finish equal fifth.

He was beaten each time.

But he added: "I don't think anyone could have lived with Xander today".

Schauffele's 12-footer for eagle at the last slid by the edge of the hole, and he tapped in for birdie and a closing 62, which tied the course record.

After holing a wedge from 107 yards for another eagle at the 12th to close within one of Woodland, the Californian finished with four birdies in his last five holes to win by a shot on 23-under-par as Woodland failed to birdie the last.

He was still somewhat dazed when he stepped outside the scoring trailer as Woodland was walking off the 18th green, having missed a 10-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff at Kapalua. My best round of the year [in 2018] was Bay Hill and I always go back to that and I should have learned from that. "And unfortunately, I didn't get it done". "My goal today was to birdie the par-fives and make a couple more and see if that was enough".

But Schauffele once again proved that he excels as the underdog, gaining his fourth PGA Tour title by coming from behind to win - as he has done in all his previous victories - and also achieving the largest final round comeback in the history of the tournament. "The next step is to go wire-to-wire, have a lead and maintain it".

"I probably pushed a little too hard, and it didn't really work out for me", McIlroy said. The 25-year-old admitted that even after birdies at the third, fifth, sixth and seventh holes he wasn't looking much at the leaderboard, since he started the day so far back.

After the 24th of the 29 second-place finishes he recorded before winning the first of his three Majors in 2007, Harrington said: "So long as I am learning, I am okay".

"I'm playing great", he said.

"She's been downhill for a little while now", Woodland said. Justin Thomas carded a 65 to finish alone in third on 274.

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