Xander Schauffele nearly let a three-shot lead slip away from him Sunday afternoon. Yet thanks to a clutch finish on the 18th, and help from the group ahead of him, Schauffele picked up his second win of the season at the Travelers Championship.
Schauffele, who entered the day with a one-time lead over Patrick Cantlay, posted a final-round 68 to take the win in Connecticut. He has won six times on the PGA Tour and twice this season, following his victory at the Zurich Classic.
“I really think this was like, in a small way, this is a big win for me mentally. Just because I sort of had to check myself, you know what I mean?” Schauffele said. “When you’ve been out here and things are going easy you just expect to play well all the time. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back. And I thought I did that this week.
“Like I said, I don’t know if that’s the reason I won, but it definitely made me feel more comfortable and helped my process throughout the week.”
Rookie Sahith Theegala took the lead after a clutch birdie on No. 17, which marked his third in five holes. Yet after landing in the fairway bunker on the final hole, Theegala’s struggles kicked in.
Theegala’s first attempt out of the bunker went nowhere, as he was pressed right up against the lip.
“I knew exactly where we stood,” Theegala said. “Never in a million years did I think I would allow myself to blade it. All I had to do was chunk it. We even said, like, this is a 50/50 ball in terms of, I got to try and just basically hit it just a hair behind it. Somehow my body just, I just straight bladed it.”
He then had a near identical shot, which he chipped out well short of the green before chipping it on. He nearly got his bogey to fall, but it barely slipped out, which left him with a double bogey and one back of Schauffele.
Schauffele, meanwhile, hit a perfect drive on the final hole right behind Theegala. He then stuck his approach a few feet from the cup, which set up his final birdie of the day to take the two-shot win.
“You just lock in. I don’t really know how to describe it,” Schauffele said of his mindset on the final tee. “Yeah, it sort of, after I saw what happened I knew that there’s a chance par would win, and birdie for sure. So I had to hit the fairway. So I was just so locked in at that moment to hit that fairway and swing as hard as I could off that tee. Nothing else really mattered.”
Schauffele ended the week at 19-under after his 2-under 68 on Sunday. Theegala finished two back with J.T. Poston. Amateur Michael Thorbjornsen finished in fourth at 15-under on the week.
Though his finish was disappointing, Theegala is still walking away with his best career finish on the PGA Tour.
“Obviously I know and all the guys out here know how hard it is to win and how few opportunities there are to win,” Theegala said. That’s why something like this is really, really going to hurt. It’s really going to hurt. But I’m just going to grow from it.”
On the other hand, Lexi Thompson was in perfect position to take home her first major in nearly a decade on Sunday afternoon. Yet Thompson fell apart in the final stretch at Congressional Country Club, where she bogeyed four of her last seven to drop behind In Gee Chun and take a tie for second at the Women’s PGA Championship.
Thompson, after making birdie on two of her first three holes of the day, missed a 2-foot par putt on the 14th. She then stumbled hard around the green at the 16th, and grabbed her second bogey in three holes.
She bogeyed 17, too, which dropped her one back.
While she put herself in a good spot on the 18th, hitting a clutch approach shot about 10 feet from the cup, she missed the putt. Chun saved par on the 18th herself, which gave her the one-time wire-to-wire victory.
Chun opened the week with an eight-under 64, and finished at five-under on the tournament to grab her third major win. The victory was her first on the LPGA since 2018.
Thompson ended the day with a 1-over 73 and tied with Minjee Lee. The 27-year-old, who is currently No. 6 in the Rolex Rankings, has 11 career wins on the LPGA, but she has not won since the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 2019.