Xander Schauffele surged to fourth place in the Race to Dubai after securing a maiden European Tour title with a dramatic play-off victory over Tony Finau at the WGC-HSBC Champions, China.
The American started the day three back from his fellow countryman but reeled him in after carding the lowest round of the day with a 68 to leave both men locked at 14 under par after 72 holes at Sheshan International Golf Club. On the first trip back up the 18th, Schauffele found the green in two while Finau had to lay up after finding the bunker with his tee shot. A birdie was enough for Schauffele to lift his first WGC event after Finau’s birdie attempt from off the green came up short.
“What an amazing end to a great week in China,” said Nick Tarratt, Director, European Tour International Dubai Office. “We’re delighted to have Xander as a European Tour Affiliate Member and welcome him into our winner’s circle for the very first time. He’s making a big impression on the Tour and we look forward to seeing him at Jumeirah Golf Estates for his maiden DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.”
With the triumph, Schauffele jumps from 22nd to fourth in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a season total of 3,092,485 points.
“It was as nice of a final group as I’ve ever played in,” said the 25-year-old who was paired with Finau and Justin Rose on day four. “Not that I’ve played in a whole lot but Rosey and Tony are great guys and you know, I think we were genuinely pulling for each other, even though we were playing against each other. My hat’s off to both of them.
“It’s a lot to take in honestly,” continued Schauffele who took his PGA Tour title count to three with victory in the co-sanctioned event. “I didn’t have an incredible Asian Swing up until this point, so I think that flight home will be a little bit more special. I felt really good about every part of my game mentally and physically. So with a 68, obviously, it was just enough. Tony played well, as well, but it’s tricky to try and fend off when everyone is chasing you.”
Defending champion Rose looked in contention for the majority of the day but dropped three shots on the back nine to leave him in third place, four shots off the leaders. The Englishman jumps from 15th to tenth in the Rankings on 2,265,016 points, making him eligible for a share of the Race to Dubai Bonus Pool which is only open to the top ten players on the Rankings following the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat produced a fine display to finish in a tie for fourth place which moves him from 18th to 14th in the Rankings with a season tally of 2,017,450 points.
American Patrick Reed, Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood and 2018 Ryder Cup rookie Thorbjørn Olesen all finished in a tie for seventh place in China. Fleetwood and Reed remain second and third respectively on the Rankings but Olesen drops down a place to seventh after Schauffele’s victory.
Race to Dubai leader Francesco Molinari had a disappointing week which saw him finish in 43rd place. The Italian still leads the Race to Dubai on 4,709,920 points with just three tournaments to go until the winner is crowned on the 18th green at the iconic Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The DP World Tour Championship takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 November.