Cromwell, Connecticut. On Saturday, Xander Schauffele scored at the age of 67 and beat good friend and teammate Patrick Cantley by one stroke in the final round of the Traveler Championship.
Schauffele had 17 to 193 at the TPC River Highlands. Cantley fired 63.
Rookie Sahit Tigala was third with 14 under after round 64 and Kevin Kisner had 66 to get to 13 under.
Schauffele started the day 14 under with a five-stroke lead. The Olympic champion hit the second hole for the third time this week and once again finished in 6th place, a career best of 48 holes without a ghost.
Full Travel Championship results
But he put his tee shot on 13 into the water and briefly lost the tie to take the lead from the scarecrow. He broke his little birdie drought at 16, then hit the bowling pins on approach at 17 and sank another one.
“I’d like to see that tee come back on the 13,” he said. “For the most part, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to defend the lead, especially when it’s five shots and easy to settle into.”
Cantley’s ghostless round was the best round of the day.
Schauffele and Kantley have been close friends since pairing together at the 2019 Presidents’ Cup in Australia, and they won the Zurich Classic together this season.
“If there was a joint score again this week, we would be fine,” Cantley joked. “It’s always a pleasure to be with him, whether he’s on my team or not. I’m going to go there tomorrow and try my best and let the chips fall where they can.”
Schauffele is in contention for his sixth individual title and his first since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions. It also claims a sixth consecutive top 20 spot. He and Cantley finished 14th at the US Open last week.
“I’m looking forward to playing Pat in the final round,” Schauffele said. “In regular tournaments, we don’t often play in pairs, only in teams. So we have a certain level of comfort when we play with each other and hopefully it pays off and we can make a lot of birds.”
Tigala had an eagle for 13 and four birds. The 24-year-old Californian landed his second par-4 17 over the course’s characteristic lake about a foot from the pins, briefly tying Schaufel for the lead. But he scared the last hole.
He hopes to be the 18th player to score his first tour victory in Connecticut. Ken Duke was the last to do so in 2013.
“I will definitely be nervous, I will definitely be excited,” he said. “Every week that I’m here, I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable.”
Former U.S. Junior Champion Michael Thorbjornsen hit 66 to make his mark. He started the weekend at the age of 7, becoming the third amateur to make the PGA tour in 2022. The Stanford star is in a group of four tied for seventh, but said he doesn’t feel much pressure.
“One thing that can help is to win or take second or third place. I don’t get paid anyway, so it’s just another tournament for me,” he said. “It’s just another round for me and I’m just going to try and get out there and do the same thing I did today.”
Harris English, who is trying to become the second player to successfully defend his title here since Phil Mickelson’s win in 2002, hit 69 and found himself in the under-10 group.
No. 1 ranked Scotty Scheffler was also in that group after scoring 65. He started the weekend nine shots behind Schauffele.
“Maybe I’ll go out tomorrow and do something crazy and we’ll see what happens,” Scheffler said.
First-round co-leader Rory McIlroy (72) got into trouble early Saturday, hitting a tee-tee for #2 from a nearby tree and into tall grass 108 yards down the fairway on the right. After 39 shots in the back nine on Friday, he threw 36 shots in the front nine on Saturday and finished 2 more on the day and 6 less in the tournament, 11 shots off pace.
There was also a buzz at Saturday’s tournament around a player who wasn’t even in Cromwell anymore.
Jason Kokrak was disqualified on Friday after hitting his final shot on the ninth hole over and behind the green. Cockrack, who would have missed anyway, walked out without repeating the shot.
William McGirt, who played in the same group, said that Cockrack simply didn’t see the point in finishing the hole.
“He said, ‘I’m not going to detain anyone,'” McGirt said. “He didn’t run off the golf course.”