Xander Schauffele wins Travelers Championship after Sahith Theegala’s heartbreaking finish
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay have teamed up in Ryder Cups and to win this year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, but on this Sunday they were in the final pairing of the Travelers Championship squaring off for a PGA Tour title. One player, however, got the W, while the other fell way down the leaderboard. Here’s how Sunday at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., went down.
Who won: Xander Schauffele (two-under 68, 19 under overall)
How it happened: Schauffele entered the day with a one-shot lead over Cantlay and led Sahith Theegala by three and Kevin Kisner by four, and Schauffele increased his lead with a one-under front nine as Cantlay failed to get his round on track. Schauffele went birdie-bogey on 11 and 12, and Theegala added a two-putt birdie on 15 to tie Schauffele at 18 under. It was the fourth birdie of the day for Theegala, a 24-year-old rookie, who at that point had yet to make a bogey on Sunday. On 17 Theegala took his first lead, hitting his approach to 11 feet and rolling in the putt to get to 19 under. He teed off on 18 with a one-shot lead over Schauffele, but Theegala found the left fairway bunker. Up against the lip (123 yards to the pin, and 105 to the front), Theegala went for the hero shot and couldn’t escape the sand.
He then blasted out to the fairway and did well to stick his approach from 75 yards to 12 feet, but he lipped out and made double bogey. He signed for a three-under 67, and Schauffele just needed to make par to win. He hit his approach to three feet and made birdie. Theegala and J.T. Poston tied for second.
Why it matters: It’s the sixth career PGA Tour title for Schauffele, 28, and the first stroke-play victory since his win at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions (he won the Zurich with Cantlay a couple of months ago). It’s Schauffele’s first time (in five attempts) converting a 54-hole lead or co-lead. Theegala made his pro debut at the Travelers in 2020 and he was trying to win for the first time in his 38th career start.
Who won (kind of) without actually winning: The Travelers was the third PGA Tour start for 20-year-old amateur Michael Thorbjornsen, a Wellesley, Mass., native who just finished his sophomore year at Stanford and received a sponsor exemption into the field. He was trying to become the first amateur to win on Tour since Phil Mickelson won the 1991 Northern Telecom Open, and he put up quite the fight. Thorbjornsen started the day tied for 7th but got to within one with an eagle-par-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie stretch on Nos. 6-11. He fell back with bogeys on 12 and 13 but parred the rest, signed for a four-under 66 and finished 4th, the best-ever finish for an amateur at the Travelers.
Who lost: Cantlay started the day one back and in the final pairing, but he made just one par on the front and turned in two-over 37. His back nine included a double bogey and just two more pars. He shot 76 (one stroke off the worst round of the day) and tied for 13th.
Cruelest lip-out award: Theegala needed to convert this putt to save bogey on 18 and put some pressure on Schauffele. He missed, but it ended up being a moot point, as Schauffele needed par to win but made birdie to win by two.
Up next: The PGA Tour heads west for the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. Next week is also the second LIV Golf Invitational Series event, which tees off on Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon.