ATLANTA – Rookie Xander Schauffele outdid the big guns to win the Tour Championship on Sunday, but Justin Thomas hit the jackpot by taking home the $10 million prize for claiming the FedEx Cup playoff title.
The 23-year-old Schauffele fired a two-under-par 68 in the final round to became the first rookie to win the Tour Championship as he beat Thomas by one shot at East Lake golf course.
Thomas put the finishing touches on his breakthrough season by closing with a 66 to claim the PGA Tour’s playoff title and the $10 million first place prize that goes with it.
“As a competitor, you are mad that you didn’t win the tournament, but then you realise what an unbelievable honour this is, the fact that you can win something over the entire course of the season,” said Thomas, who won five tournaments in 2017, including the PGA Championship.
“I played really well over the season, and it is nice to finally play well in some playoff events and have it all pay off.”
The last time different players won the tournament and the FedEx Cup was in 2009, when Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship and Tiger Woods won the Cup.
Jordan Spieth made a run at the FedEx Cup title with a Sunday charge, but his three-under 67 left him in second place overall, 660 points back of Thomas in the standings.
“He has that belief now that he can make it happen,” Spieth said of Thomas. “The progression he has made this year into becoming a phenomenal closer has been a pleasure to watch.”
The Tour Championship is the last of four events of the FedEx Cup playoffs, and the finale to the PGA Tour campaign for the 11th consecutive season.
Thomas’ playoff win brings to a close the year-long schedule that began last October in California.
Five players, including Thomas, controlled their own playoff destiny if they could capture the Tour Championship this week, but Schauffele came out of the shadows to make it interesting.
Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm also could have all won the FedEx Cup title with a Tour Championship victory.
Schauffele finished with a 12-under 268 total, one stroke ahead of Thomas.
Russell Henley (65), and Kevin Kisner (70) tied for third at 10-under 270.
England’s Paul Casey, who began the final round with the lead, struggled from the beginning.
He had back-to-back bogeys on the front nine and wound up with a 73 and finished in fifth at 271.
The consolation prize for Casey is he gets to go home and see his newborn daughter for the first time.
Spieth made a run, but finished in a tie for seventh at seven-under 273 and was left to muse about missed opportunities.
“I almost cheated my way into winning the FedEx Cup when (Thomas) really deserved it,” Spieth said.
Schauffele added some drama to his final hole when his two-foot putt for the win ringed the cup before falling in.
“I thought I missed it, that’s why I couldn’t even react to celebrate because I thought I just missed a two-footer to win,” Schauffele said.
Rory McIlroy, the 2016 FedEx Cup champion, finished 58th in the FedEx Cup standings and did not qualify to play this year in the Tour Championship.