Xander Schauffele began Sunday five shots back of the lead at the Tournament of Champions. Sixty-two shots later, he’d rallied for a huge comeback victory, playing his last seven holes in six under to clip Gary Woodland by one.
Woodland was gracious — and playful — in defeat. The long-hitting 34-year-old sought out Schauffele immediately after his round and gave him a friendly shove. A reporter asked what Woodland told him in the exchange.
“Congrats,” Schauffele said, laughing. “He knows he could kick my a– if he wanted to, so…”
Size-wise, Schauffele has a point: the soft-spoken Californian is listed at 5 feet, 10 inches and 175 pounds, while Woodland is a sturdy 6’1, 195. But Schauffele was clearly kidding about any potential showdown; each was effusive with praise for the other after their rounds.
“Gary’s been very kind to me since I’ve been out here on Tour, and he’s just a really cool dude,” Schauffele said.
Woodland watched Schauffele from the group behind as he holed out for eagle twice and racked up eight additional birdies. “Sixty-two is obviously an awesome round of golf, and hats off to Xander,” Woodland said in his post-round interview. “That’s really, really good.”