Xander Schauffele hit one of the most impossible shots. But that may not be the best part

Xander Schauffele on Sunday on the 5th hole at the Pete Dye Stadium Course.

PGA Tour Live

Xander Schauffele was aware of what he had gotten away with. His caddie had also let him know, though with no words at all. 

“He looked away,” Schauffele said of his looper, Austin Kaiser. “I think he thought it was in the water, to be completely honest. We’ll just call it what it is. Usually he’s the one yelling and hollering at the ball, but he was pretty quiet. So I think he was just throwing up a prayer there.”

By now, you’ve likely seen what followed. During Sunday’s final round of the American Express, on the 541-yard, par-5 5th at the Pete Dye Stadium Course, Schauffele covered every inch in two swings: a 314-yard drive down the right side of the fairway, and a 226-yard 4-iron, though, of course, it’s the latter that is most memorable. Stroke two fell just over the water ahead of the green, rolled right to left and dropped in the hole for a two, or a three-under on the par-5, or an albatross, which the PGA of America wrote has 6-million-to-one odds of happening.     

“Oh, what a shot,” announcer Billy Kratzert said on the PGA Tour Live broadcast.  

“It’s going to go in!” announcer Andres Gonzales said. 

“Albatross!” Kratzert said.  

Schauffele responded in kind. He gave knuckles to Kaiser, playing partners Adam Hadwin and Danny Lee, and their caddies. He smiled, though maybe it was a smirk. And that brings us back to our first paragraph, and just how ridiculously improbable the shot really was. 

After all (dramatic pause), he said he didn’t mean to hit it that way. And few others even tried.   

Let’s first look at the hole on Sunday. The 5th wasn’t playing hard for the pros — it ranked as the third-easiest in relation to scores — but it still required precision, especially on the second stroke. After a tee shot between water on the left and two fairway bunkers on the right, the 69 players were challenged by water on the right that ran all the way up to the green and protected its right side. Including the hole. The flag was maybe 10 yards from the water, and about five from a downslope back to the drink. 

In short, there was no room to land a ball both short of and at the pin on a second shot, so players attacked in different ways. Through a GOLF.com examination, they:

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Hit out to the left 

Taylor Montgomery – from 230 yards away, out to the left and on the fringe, 53 feet away 

Erik van Rooyen – from 246 yards away, out to the left and on the fairway, 34 yards away 

J.T. Poston – from 236 yards away, out to the left and over the green, 99 feet, 9 inches away 

Scottie Scheffler – from 219 yards away, out to the left and on the fairway, 77 feet, 3 inches away 

Christiaan Bezuidenhout – from 245 yards away, out to the left and on the fairway, 34 yards away 

Danny Lee – from 258 yards away, out to the left and on the fairway, 98 yards away 

Tony Finau – from 241 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 38 yards away 

Adam Hadwin – from 261 yards away, out to the left and on the fairway, 35 yards away 

Sungjae Im – from 245 yards away, out to the left and on the fairway, 80 feet, 5 inches away 

Harry Higgs – from 226 yards away, out to the left and on the fairway, 64 feet, 9 inches away  

Harrison Endycott – from 243 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 74 feet, 3 inches away  

Si Woo Kim – from 242 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 80 feet, 11 inches away  

Alex Smalley – from 228 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 48 yards away 

Cameron Young – from 246 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 70 yards away 

Justin Rose – from 230 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 45 feet, 5 inches away  

Tano Goya – from 237 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 71 feet, 8 inches away  

Dylan Wu – from 249 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 36 yards away  

Austin Cook – from 238 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 34 yards away  

Stephan Jaeger – from 252 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 87 feet, 5 inches away

Ben An – from 249 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 86 yards away

Zach Johnson – from 246 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 76 feet, 1 inch away

Sebastian Munoz – from 223 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 34 yards away

Dean Burmester – from 230 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 77 feet, 5 inches away

Justin Suh – from 247 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 94 yards away

Russell Knox – from 245 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 34 yards away

Joseph Bramlett – from 206 yards away, out to the left, pin high and in the rough, 43 yards away

Martin Laird – from 232 yards away, out to the left, about pin high and on the fringe, 55 feet, 1 inch away

Anders Albertson – from 238 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway, 39 feet, 1 inch away

Ryan Armour – from 245 yards away, out to the left and in the rough, 50 yards away

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Hit out to the left, and on the green 

Tom Kim – from 246 yards away, left side of the green and past the pin, 42 feet, 1 inch away

Sam Burns – from 233 yards away, left side of the green and below the pin, 65 feet, 2 inches away

Matthias Schwab – from 231 yards away, left side of the green and about pin high, 36 feet, 4 inches away

Andrew Putnam – from 248 yards away, left side of the green and about pin high, 36 feet, 4 inches away

Laid up short because their tee shot was in a right fairway bunker 

Robby Shelton – from 291 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 133 yards away 

Ben Griffin – from 257 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 85 yards away 

Trevor Werbylo – from 258 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 96 yards away 

Tyler Duncan – from 259 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 128 yards away 

Scott Piercy – from 261 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 143 yards away 

Stewart Cink – from 254 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 131 yards away   

Justin Lower – from 259 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 127 yards away   

Denny McCarthy – from 252 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 104 yards away   

Aaron Baddeley – from 289 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, hit out to the center of the fairway, 214 yards away

Beau Hossler – from 253 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the right side of the fairway, 128 yards away

Rickie Fowler – from 254 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, laid up short and to the left, 106 yards away   

Davis Riley –  from 256 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, short and to the right side of the fairway, 123 yards away

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Stayed in a right fairway bunker after the second shot

Sam Stevens –  from 259 yards away and in a right fairway bunker, does not escape bunker on his second shot

Laid up short and to the right after hitting their tee shot in the water 

Thomas Detry – from 296 yards away on third shot (tee shot was in the water), short and to the right side of the fairway, 94 yards away 

Tom Hoge – from 243 yards away, short and to the right side of the fairway on his fourth stroke (tee shot was in the water), 39 yards away

Laid up short and to the left after hitting their tee shot in the water 

Paul Haley II – from 272 yards away, out to the left and in the fairway on his fourth stroke (tee shot was in the water), 96 yards away

Hit the second shot short and in the water 

Wyndham Clark – from 253 yards away and in the right rough, hit second shot 114 yards and in the water 

Played from the right side of the hole 

Kevin Tway – from 231 yards away and very right, continued to play along the right side of the hole 

Zecheng Dou – from 247 yards away and very right, continued to play along the right side of the hole 

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And then there were the daring. 

Some played their ball to the right of the green  

Chris Kirk – from 227 yards away, out to the right and just over the water, 44 feet, 10 inches away

Matti Schmid – from 191 yards away, out to the right and over the water, 29 feet, 6 inches away

Garrick Higgo – from 228 yards away, out to the right and over the water, 33 feet, 6 inches away 

Harry Hall – from 234 yards away, out to the right and just over the water, 29 feet, 11 inches away

Some played their ball toward the pin, but hit long, including winner Jon Rahm 

Jon Rahm – from 203 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 36 feet, 4 inches away

Davis Thompson – from 243 yards away, toward the pin and over the green on his fourth stroke (tee shot was in the water), 35 feet, 4 inches away

Jason Day – from 225 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 33 feet, 10 inches away

Keith Mitchell – from 246 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 33 feet, 2 inches away

Patrick Cantlay – from 215 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 32 feet, 8 inches away

Brendan Steele – from 235 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 31 feet, 10 inches away

Eric Cole – from 248 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 28 feet, 4 inches away

Will Zalatoris – from 223 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 27 feet, 9 inches away

Vincent Norman – from 225 yards away, toward the pin and over the green, 33 feet, 3 inches away

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And three took the Schauffele line 

According to the PGA Tour’s online leaderboard, Patton Kizzire finished juuuust over the water and had 18 feet left to the hole. Sahith Theegala and Andrew Landry weren’t so lucky; they found the water. 

So which way did Schauffele want to go?

He liked the left play. The thought was he would start the ball at the flag, then let the wind carry it away and to safety. Only, Schauffele hit it out right, and the wind still blew. (A quick editor’s note here: It’s pretty fun to see all the ways the pros can play a hole, isn’t it? Says a lot.) 

As his ball was in the air, Schauffele twice whispered for the ball to “get up,” and on a slow motion replay by GOLF.com, it appeared to land safely by about a yard, with the upslope to the green slowing the ball’s momentum — and providing a nice roll to the hole.  

“I swung really hard,” he said. “Bail out to the left there all day. You just chip across the green. It’s not a bad spot. We were just kind of in between clubs, and in order for me to maximize my distance, I kind of wanted to sort of sling it in, use the upslope to short of brush it in with the wind, and I hung it out there.”

It somehow worked. And he had the albatross, which hadn’t been done on Tour since Stephan Jaeger carded a two on a par-5 at last year’s John Deere Classic. 

“Didn’t say anything in the air because I was a little bit worried,” Schauffele said. “So it was nice when I saw it hit on ground, and then I actually saw it go in. So that was pretty special.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.