Sport Golf

Thursday 22 February 2018

Schauffele takes title but Thomas earns $10m bonus

Schauffele sank a two-foot foot birdie putt at the final hole. Photo credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Schauffele sank a two-foot foot birdie putt at the final hole. Photo credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

James Corrigan

PGA Tour rookie Xander Schauffele upstaged his better known rivals to win the Tour Championship in Atlanta last night while Justin Thomas crowned a stunning year by winning the $10million bonus for finishing top of the FedEx rankings.

Schauffele sank a two-foot foot birdie putt at the final hole, his ball catching the edge and circling the cup before dropping in at East Lake.

He edged fellow American Justin Thomas by one stroke at East Lake.

Schauffele carded 68 to finish at 12-under-par 268, while Thomas shot 66 to secure the FedExCup as the winner of the season-long points race.

Thomas, who won five times this season, including his first major at the PGA Championship, earns a $10m bonus.

Overnight leader Paul Casey, however, fell away with a round of 73 to finish in fifth but still gave Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn plenty of food for thought - even though he still would not commit himself to the tournament.

Bjorn, the Europe captain for next year's match in Paris, could have been forgiven for suspecting that Casey's candidature for Le Golf National was on the line, as well.

But following his third-round 65, the 40-year-old refused to state whether he would end his self-imposed exile and so rejoin the European Tour to make himself eligible.

"Am I thinking about Ryder Cup currently, in this position? No. Sitting here, no. It is so far out of my current thinking," Casey said.

"The Tour Championship, getting home to my wife and my two kids, that's occupying most of my capacity right now. I know there's a rule change next year and it's something we will look at. But at the moment, I'm not thinking about it."

The rule change to which Casey referred is a reduction in the minimum number of events, outside the majors and WGCs, that a European Tour member must play - from five to four. That was made with the likes of Casey in mind.

Going into the PGA Tour's season finale he was up to 16th in the world and the quality he showed here in taking the lead through 54 holes would only have emphasised to Bjorn what he could be missing.

The Dane has been in contact with Casey and said at The Open in July: "Who wouldn't want Paul Casey on their team in the form he's in?"

Bjorn has taken plenty of encouragement from their conversations, but also knows that so too did Darren Clarke in the build-up to Gleneagles.

Casey plainly feels aggrieved that he is being forced into a corner and it will be interesting to see how he reacts in the next few months.

Should the Ryder Cup feature the best Europeans taking on the United States or merely the best Europeans on the European Tour? That is a question with which Casey understandably struggles.

"My history is fuzzy but, correct me if I'm wrong, it was created to enhance relations between GB & I and the US. Is it an exhibition that's turned into something else or even bigger than that?"

Like Casey, Rory McIlroy understands that the Ryder Cup cash-cow is vital to the European Tour's survival, but feels the integrity of the match is being compromised. "The Ryder Cup should be the 12 best players in Europe against the 12 best in the US," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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