BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. By mid afternoon Sunday all eyes were fixated on the final two pairings at the seventh Greenbrier Classic. Tour rookie Sebastian Munoz had aspirations of becoming the first player to lead wire-to-wire at White Sulphur Springs, but in the grouping ahead of the 54-hole leader another rookie chose his pitching wedge in the tee box at 18. It's a shot the 23-year old Xander Schauffele will not soon forget.
"It was 57-front, 162-pin. There's a little bit of altitude up here, so my caddy and I, we looked at a pitching wedge at nine and under the gun you never want to swing something soft, so we grabbed the pitching wedge real quick," said Greenbrier Classic champion Xander Schauffele.
Schauffele became the third tour rookie to claim his maiden victory at the Greenbrier and fourth overall. Throughout the final round he at held at least a share of the lead with Munoz and Robert Streb thanks to a bogey-free front 9. In the shadow of the giant leaderboard on number-17, birdie putts in two of his final three holes rose his standing from a playoff spot to outright winner.
"I mean I'm human so I felt extremely nervous throughout the day," said Schauffele. "Not so much early in the round. I felt kind of nervous starting on 16, 17. Yeah, I felt kind of nervous late in the round. I tried going back to the basics. Close my eyes and take some deep breaths."
Schaffele's rewards include a nice addition to his wardrobe, a coveted piece of hardware for his mantle, a $1,278,000 purse, a 67-point rise in the FedEx Cup standings to 27th and exemption in the next three majors. Part of a rookie class that includes Jordan Spieth, Schauffele becomes the latest young gun to etch his name in the running.
"Being a rookie, my only goal was to just make the playoffs and maintain," said Schauffele. "To get the three other majors is a bonus for me. I'll keep looking at that for now and hopefully that pays off."