Rory McIlroy ‘did what I wanted to do’ but Xander Schauffele wins in Hawaii

Xander Schauffele poses with the trophy after winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Golf Club in Hawaii. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Xander Schauffele poses with the trophy after winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Golf Club in Hawaii. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
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Rory McIlroy had to settle for a share of joint-fourth as Xander Schauffele covered his last 16 holes in an incredible 12-under-par to win the first event of 2019 - the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Schauffele, who had started the final day in Hawaii five shots off the lead, looked to have little chance of tasting victory after opening the fourth round at Kapalua with a bogey.

Rory McIlroy had to settle for a share of fourth spot on  his debut in the event after a closing 72. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy had to settle for a share of fourth spot on his debut in the event after a closing 72. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

However, the 25-year-old American then carded two eagles and eight birdies to equal the course record with an 11-under-par 62.

The late thrust saw him finish with a 23-under-par 269 total, pipping the overnight leader, Gary Woodland, by a shot in the event featuring winners from the US circuit in 2018.

It was Schauffele’s fourth PGA Tour triumph - his previous success came in the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China in October - and lifted him to sixth in the world rankings.

“All of my wins have been from behind. This was in sort of dramatic fashion and it turned into a birdie fest coming down the stretch,” he told pgatour.com.

“These are all stepping stones in the right direction and I think the end goal is for me to be able to go wire-to-wire and obviously a major would be nice but go wire-to-wire and show myself that I’ve got the nerve to do it.”

Woodland, who held a three-shot lead at the start of the day, carded a bogey-free round of 68, missing a chance on the final hole to force a play-off.

After making nine birdies in a closing 65, Justin Thomas finished third on 18-under.

On his debut in the event, McIlroy had started the final round in second place but shot a closing 72 to finish alongside Dustin Johnson (67) and Marc Leishman (71) on 15-under.

“Obviously I could have shot a better score, but I did what I wanted to do,” said McIlroy. “I gave myself plenty of chances, I hit most of the fairways, I hit most of the greens, just couldn’t get the ball to drop.

“My attitude was much better today. I didn’t press at all, I was very patient, it’s just something I’m going to have to persist in, just keep putting myself in these positions and honestly, I don’t think anyone could have beaten Xander today.

“I’m going to go home and sort of reflect on this week and reflect on what was good and what maybe wasn’t so good and work on a few things and come back out and having learned a little more about my game than I knew coming into this week.”

Spain’s Jon Rahm signed off with a 69 to finish joint-eighth on 13-under; Ian Poulter dropped to 18th place after firing a 71, while fellow Englishman Paul Casey shot the same to end in joint-16th.

World No 1 Brooks Koepka shot his best round of the tournament, carding a four-under 69, but languished in 24th place.

Open champion Francesco Molinari ended up in joint-27th after a last-day 74 left him on one-under.