SHANGHAI – Rory McIlroy beat 2018 champion Xander Schauffele on the first playoff hole to win the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China on Sunday. It’s the fourth title in 15 starts for the Irish star, who shot a 4-under 68 to finish at 19-under in regulation at Sheshan International.
Schauffele was down two strokes with four holes to play, but birdied No. 15 and No. 18 to pull even and force the extra play.
“Xander pushed me the whole way, or all 73 holes we played together this week,” said McIlroy, who also moved to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings.
McIlroy credited his concentration for helping him win his third WGC event and for his recent string of success. He finished the weekend rounds without posting a bogey.
“Even if I’m having a bad day, I’m trying over every single shot,” said McIlroy. “My concentration is better and my mental capacity on the golf course is much better than it ever has been, and I think that’s a big key to why I’m able to play consistently week-in, week-out.”
McIlroy got the first crack off the tee on the first sudden-death playoff hole. He said that going first was a big boost to his chances.
“I knew that was the big moment because I could hit a drive down the fairway and put the pressure on him,” said McIlroy.
Sure enough, McIlroy’s drive was true, while Schauffele wound up in the rough. McIlroy hit the green on his next shot, then two-putted for a birdie. Schauffele recovered to give himself a 12-foot birdie attempt but was unable to force another hole.
“When he’s on, I’d say he’s arguably the best player in the world,” said Schauffele of McIlroy afterward.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen finished in third place after shooting a 3-under 69, leaving him two shots back.
France’s Victor Perez, Austria’s Matthias Schwab and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer all finished the tournament in a tie for fourth at 15 under.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, who had the lead at the midway point, finished five back for a seventh-place finish.
–Field Level Media