WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — A strong finish in the U.S. Open late month helped prepare Xander Schauffele for the nerve-racking grind of chasing a title on the PGA Tour.
The 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 tour victory.
Schauffele closed with a 3-under 67 and finished at 14-under 266 to cap a daylong duel with Streb and third-round leader Sebastian Munoz.
Streb shot 69. Munoz had a 72 to tie for third with Jamie Lovemark at 12 under. Lovemark shot 69.
The 23-year-old Schauffele, 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 at Erin Hills.
“The U.S. Open was a huge moment in my career,” Schauffele 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.”
Watching fellow youngster Jon Rahm of Spain win the Irish Open earlier Sunday also served as motivation for Schauffele, who shot from 94th to 27th in the FedEx Cup standings.
“Everybody knows I’m a late bloomer,” Schauffele said. “To jump into the top 30 is something special for me.”
Schauffele, Streb, Munoz and Lovemark earned spots in the British Open in two weeks. The leading four players not already exempt from the top-12 finishers qualified. Russell Henley was the only player among the top 10 finishers who already was in.
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.
He’s the third rookie to earn their first tour victory in West Virginia and the fourth overall. The others were former U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee in 2015 and Scott Stallings in 2011, along with Ted Potter Jr. in 2013.