WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Just when the Greenbrier Classic seemed destined to stretch into another playoff, Xander Schauffele’s tee shot plopped down 3 feet from the 18th pin.
The resulting birdie lifted Schauffele to 14-under, ultimately composing a one-shot margin over Robert Streb, who revisted tough luck after losing here in a playoff two years ago.
Sebastian Munoz, the leader for three rounds, finally developed cracks during Sunday’s 72 and finished tied for third at 12-under.
Schauffele, a rookie building on an All-American career at San Diego State, kissed the Greenbrier Classic trophy before taking a few minutes to reflect inside the locker room. Even after a fifth-place finish at the U.S. Open, the 23-year-old Schauffele considers himself “a late bloomer” — the by-product of belonging to the same high school class as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Ollie Schniederjans.
“I always joke with my buddies saying it’s not cool to be 23 on the PGA Tour anymore,” Schauffele said. “Everyone that’s 22, 23 or 24, they’re all winning.”
Schauffele made a winning decision to grab the pitching wedge off the 162-yard tee on No. 18. He debated about trying a soft 9-iron but reasoned: “Under the gun, you never want to swing something soft.”
Schauffele’s go-ahead birdie on the final hole transpired almost simultaneously with Streb mishitting an approach into a bunker off the 17th green. After settling for par, Streb needed a birdie of his own on No. 18, but his tee shot drifted into the left rough.
“Xander obviously hit a great shot on that last hole. I heard the racket,” said Streb, who shot 69.
“I knew I needed to get up and down on 17, but obviously didn’t pull it off. Then had to aim at it at 18 and didn’t quite hit the right shot.”
Schauffele became the fourth rookie to hoist a PGA trophy this season, something Munoz was primed to do entering Sunday. Four front-nine bogeys erased the lead, none more regrettable than a putt that lipped out from 3 feet.
“I just stepped out of my routine and I missed it and it shook things up for me,” he said.
Upon reaching No. 18, Munoz needed an ace to catch Schauffele, but his tee shot settled 7 feet right of the hole.
Munoz contended “there’s no benefit” to beating himself up after his first above-par round of the week, even though it negated the chance to be only the second PGA Tour winner from Colombia. As consolation, he earned $411,800 in prize money and qualified for the British Open in two weeks.
“I was just walking off 18 and I was pretty let down, except my caddie told me, ‘Hey, man, we’re in the Open Championship,” Munoz said. “I completely forgot about that. It’s awesome.
“It’s my best finish ever, so it’s not like I can be mad about it.”