CROMWELL, Conn. — Xander Schauffele celebrated his first wedding anniversary on Sunday with a dramatic victory in the Travelers Championship.
The Olympic champion won with a three-shot swing on the final hole, batting 3 feet for birdie after rookie Sahith Theegala hit two shots out of a bunker and double-bogeyed into the front pack.
Leading a shot to start the day, Schauffele finished a two-under 68 at TPC River Highlands to beat Theegala and JT Poston by two shots. Schauffele had a total of 261 at 19 under par.
“My mind was telling me to hit a good drive and then use your sand wedge or lob wedge there and make a birdie,” Schauffele said. “To sit there and see what happened was a bit of a shock, obviously. I really had to try to focus on the task at hand.
Theegala shot a 67 and Poston had a 64.
Schauffele won for the sixth time on the PGA Tour and the second this season after teaming with Patrick Cantlay to win the Zurich Classic in New Orleans in April. It was the first victory for him after having a 54-hole lead.
Theegala lurked near the top of the leaderboard all day and grabbed a chunk of the lead on the 15th, driving the green on the par-4 hole and making a 4-foot birdie putt. He outpointed Schauffele with an 11-foot birdie on the 17th, raising his fist.
But the former Pepperdine star had a bogey-free round until his tee shot on the 18th left and into the front of a fairway bunker. He needed two tries to get out of the arena.
“In a way, my body just, I just cut it,” he said. “I had space there. I don’t know what it looked like, but it had space there. I just didn’t think it would allow me to cut it. But I guess the timing was, and then from there I have to try and do 5 now.”
His 12-foot bogey putt spun out and he fell to his knees in agony.
“I did everything I thought I had to do and it turned out that everything bad ended in a hole,” he said. “I did a lot of good.”
In February at the Phoenix Open, Theegala, after leading after each of the first three days, dove into the water at 17 for a bogey and finished a shot off a playoff that Scottie Scheffler beat Cantlay. .
Theegala was trying to become the second rookie to win this season, joining Chad Ramey, who won in the Dominican Republic. The Travelers 2020 was his first professional start, but he didn’t make the cut.
Schauffele was consistent Sunday with two birdies and a bogey up front before mirroring that score in the back.
He takes home just under $1.5 million, a nice gift for a celebration he had planned with his wife, Maya.
“It’s actually a happy anniversary,” he said. “It’s my first anniversary with my wife. So I’m going to try to get home and see my wife.”
Amateur Michael Thorbjornsen, of nearby Wellesley, Massachusetts, was fourth at 15 under par after 66.
The Stanford star was looking to become the first amateur to win on tour since Phil Mickelson in 1991. He shot a 31 on the front nine, including an eagle at No. 6 after making a 261-yard approach to a foot of the hole He finished with a 66.
“I felt really good and comfortable out there, then near the end I had a couple of hiccups, which happens sometimes,” said Thorbjornsen, who added that he plans to return to college in the fall. “I don’t think he was too nervous, just a couple of failed executions.”
The best previous finish by an amateur in the Connecticut tournament came in 1966, when Tim Grant finished tied for sixth at nearby Wethersfield Country Club in what was then known as the Insurance City Open.
Poston, who was the co-leader after shooting a 62 in the first round, began the day tied for seventh place, nine shots behind. He made a bogey-free 64 and finished with his sixth birdie of the day.
“I put well, I drove well, I hit my irons well,” he said.
Cantlay started the day just one shot behind his good friend Schauffele. But last year’s FedEx Cup champion, who had a combined four bogeys in the first three rounds, hit five of them over the first nine holes.
He finished with a 76 and tied for 13th place at 10 under par.
Luke List, who shot a 65 on Sunday to finish at 9 under, had the shot of the day, opening his round with a 119-yard approach to No. 1 that had a short rebound in the hole for an eagle.
Rory McIlroy, who shot 62 in the opening round, also finished 9-under with 67 on Sunday. This was the fourth consecutive tournament for the world No. 2-ranked player, who said he will not play again before the Open Championship in St. Andrews next month.
Morgan Hoffmann, who is battling facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, finished with two points in his third and final tournament of the year on a three-event medical exemption. The 32-year-old, who took several years off the Tour to focus on his health, shot a 71 on Sunday and ended his morning with a birdie after making his approach on the 18th less than 2 feet from the pin.
Hoffman, a New Jersey native now living in Costa Rica, said he hopes to get some sponsor waivers this summer and appreciates golf while trying to inspire others to stay healthy.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, cleanse monthly, eat nutritious food and exercise hard and keep gaining muscle and building a wellness center in the meantime.” [in Costa Rica] to help other people do the same,” Hoffman said.