MX23RW : Thursday, November 15 23:40:46

Xander Schauffele wins play-off to claim WGC-HSBC Champions

The American edged out countryman Tony Finau to claim the title.

America’s Xander Schauffele beat compatriot Tony Finau in a play-off to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Schauffele began the final round at Sheshan International three shots off the lead, but carded the lowest round of the day with a four-under-par 68 to finish alongside Finau on 14 under par.

The 25-year-old had birdied the final two holes to force extra holes and then birdied the 18th again in the play-off to secure victory after Finau had been forced to lay-up on the par-five after finding a bunker off the tee.

Defending champion Justin Rose, who would have gone back to the top of the world rankings with a win, had to settle for third place on 10 under after a closing 72.

“It was as nice of a final group as I’ve ever played in, not that I’ve played in a whole lot, but Rosey and Tony are great guys and I think we were genuinely pulling for each other, even though we were playing against each other,” said Schauffele, who celebrated his 25th birthday on the opening day.

“It’s a lot to take in honestly. 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. It’s the first time my family have been together in a pretty long time so that was pretty special and I’m happy to share this with them.”

The victory is the third PGA Tour title of Schauffele’s career, while Finau is still looking for his second victory after letting a great chance slip through his fingers.

“I definitely feel like I let one get away,” Finau admitted. “Xander played incredible golf today. It was playing tough out there. He posted a number and made birdie on a play-off hole when it counted. Hats off him to. He played nicely today and deserved to win.

“It seemed like we kind of separated ourselves with nine holes to play. Kind of a three-man tournament. It definitely felt that way coming down the stretch and it was cool to have a chance to win, a real chance to win. I’ll definitely learn from this and keep moving forward.”

Rose was in contention for the first successful title defence of his career after birdies on the second and seventh, but crucially bogeyed the ninth and 10th and followed birdies on the 13th and 14th with further dropped shots on the closing stretch.

“Tough day for everybody,” said the FedEx Cup champion, who will also defend the Turkish Airlines Open title this week. “You just look at the scoreboard. Seems like everyone fell apart. There was no chasing pack today.

“It was hard to kind of keep the mistakes off the card completely today. It was a fun battle. I was always just one or two shots behind it felt on the back nine, but I birdied 13 and 14 to give myself a chance, and still had a chance I felt when I hit my iron shot into 17.

“Hit a good iron shot into there and Xander made his putt. I missed my putt. I was two behind playing the last trying to force something there. But I was in the hunt and it was a decent defence.”

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