Thursday 14 November 2019

McIlroy in desperate struggle for form as superb Schauffele denies Finau

American Xander Schauffele poses with the trophy after winning the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
American Xander Schauffele poses with the trophy after winning the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy has a week to find his 'A' game and mount a late charge for the Race to Dubai after a wayward performance left him 24 shots behind Xander Schauffele in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

The Co Down man (29) went to Sheshan International fully aware he needed to find fairways if he was to take advantage of his length and put pressure on money list leader Francesco Molinari.

"You can't hit it all over the place here," McIlroy said in the build-up before going on to mix an eagle and 13 birdies with 11 bogeys, four double bogeys and two triple bogeys over the four days, closing with a 74 to finish tied 54th on 10-over par.

The Holywood star was 74th in the 78-man field for driving accuracy and now lies 1.89 million points behind Molinari with just next week's Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai remaining for him in the race to become European number one.

He's also down from fourth to sixth in the Race to Dubai with affiliate member Schauffele (25) up to fourth after he carded best-of-the-day 68 to force a play-off with overnight leader Tony Finau, who shot 71, on 14-under par.

They finished four strokes ahead of Justin Rose (72) with Schauffele going on to win with a birdie at the first extra hole, the par-five 18th, where Finau had to lay up after his tee shot finished in its pitch mark in a bunker.

Finau was three clear of Rose, Schauffele and Patrick Reed starting the day but remains win-less since 2016 with 11 top-10 finishes to his credit this year alone.

"I felt really good about every part of my game mentally, physically," said Schauffele, who moves up seven spots to 12th in the world, leapfrogging Jordan Spieth.

"Tony got a bad break in the bunker. I knew I still needed to pull off a shot (from the middle of the fairway) and hit the green."

Finau said: "He posted a number and made birdie on a play-off hole when it counted. Hats off to him. He played nicely today and deserved to win."

Molinari leads the Race to Dubai by 1.2 million points from Fleetwood but skips this week's $7 million Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, where Ireland's Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne and Pádraig Harrington join defending champion Rose.

On the Asian Tour, Niall Turner closed with a 78 to finish tied for 62nd behind India's Khalin Joshi in the $400,000 Panasonic Open India at Delhi Golf Club.

The Muskerry player (35) finished on four-over par as Joshi birdied the last for a 68 to edge out Bangladesh's Siddikur Rahman and win his maiden title by one stroke on 17-under.

In amateur golf, Irish champions Portmarnock finished 15th as Racing Club de France La Boulie retained the European Men's Club Trophy at Golf du Médoc Resort.

The French club overturned a four-shot deficit to English club Castle Royle.

Irish Independent

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