Rory McIlroy notched up another win this year at the WGC-HSBC Champions but was pushed all the way by Xander Schauffele taking the FED Ex Champion to a play off.
“Xander pushed me the whole way, or all 73 holes we played together this week,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy started the day with the 54 hole lead but was quickly over taken by Louis Oosthuizen who made 2 quick birdies in the first 2 holes to close the lead and then over take McIlroy by the 3rd hole. It wasn’t until the 5th hole he got it going and had his first of 3 birdies on the outward nine.
McIlroy who in his previous 3 rounds had 3 consecutive 67’s knew that if he had another 67 was going to be hard to beat and was on his way to shooting another 5 under but went a bit cold on the inward nine.
This opened the door for Schauffele, who was battling with the cold this week, went about his round with a string of birdies and almost catching McIlroy after 9. Schauffele had 5 outward birdies with one bogey and was only one shot back from the leader.
On the 14th McIlroy jumped out to a 2 shot lead but Schauffele replied with a birdie of his own and the 15th hole and held that lead until the last hole.
Schauffele knew that on the 18th he needed to make a birdie to have any chance of winning or that least push McIlroy to a playoff and when McIlroy hit a wayward drive on the reachable par 5 knew that he could not get home in 2. Schauffele went on the birdie the 18th to force a playoff when McIlroy managed to only par the hole and both men were down the 18th again.
McIlroy knew he got lucky on the 18th the first time around as his drive could have easily ended up in the water but this time around he ripped a drive down the middle and was able to hit a solid 4 iron pin high. From there all he needed to do was and 2 putt and claim his 4th win this year.
“The four wins this year have been wonderful. THE PLAYERS Championship, RBC Canadian Open, THE TOUR Championship to win the FedExCup, big events,” McIlroy said. “But more than that, I think it is the consistency that I'm bringing week-in, week-out. Even if I don't have my best stuff, at least give myself a chance.”
“Right now, the game feels pretty simple,” he said Saturday evening in Shanghai. “I know that it's not going to feel like that all the time, but when it does, you have to take advantage of that feeling.”