Justin Thomas completed a memorable year by winning the $10 million FedExCup series, despite missing out on victory to Xander Schauffele in the season-ending TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
Thomas became the 10th different winner of the FedExCup title—only Tiger Woods has won it twice. Thomas’ success after finishing second in the TOUR Championship, a shot behind Schauffele, put the final seal on a dream year for the 24-year-old Kentucky native.
Thomas won five tournaments this season including his first-ever major success in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. He also won the CIMB Classic, SBS Tournament of Champions, the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Dell Technologies Championshi—one of the four FedExCup playoff series events.
Victory in the TOUR Championship would have ensured he became the first golfer since Tiger Woods to win six times in a season—but he fell one shot short.
A deserving winner
With two other top-5 finishes in the season-ending series, including his runner-up finish in the TOUR Championship, Thomas was a deserving winner. The young golfer denied close friend Jordan Spieth a second FedExCup series title, having previously won it in 2015.
Thomas, who will now rise to become the world number four, told reporters after the TOUR Championship: “I feel like I played so well this year, I was consistent. There have been a lot of great weeks and great memories. I’ve had life-changing events that just kind of ended with another kind of life-changing thing for me. To just have my name on the trophy with the rest of those guys is pretty awesome.”
For Schauffele, the TOUR Championship victory was even more life changing, not least because the 23-year-old from San Diego, California, had been set for a fight for his PGA TOUR card for 2017/18 just a few short months ago.
He won the Greenbrier Classic and shot six-under par for his final six holes in the BMW Championship, sneaking into the top 30 in the FedExCup standings and securing a spot in the TOUR Championship at East Lake. The rest, as they say, is history—it has been a sensational rookie season for Schauffele.
Schauffele’s sensational rookie season
A birdie putt on the 18th at East Lake sent Schauffele to 12-under par for the week and proved to be the decisive putt to hold off Thomas by a shot. It will be a victory that propels Schauffele’s name into the mind of golf fans across the globe.
“I’m still in shock. This is just unreal,” was the immediate verdict on his victory from Shauffele, who has come through the Web.com Q School and Web.com Tour to fulfil his PGA TOUR dream.
“It’s been a wild ride. I weaseled my way in (to the TOUR Championship), just from last week. I’ve just been kind of weaseling my way around all year. To stand here and hold this (trophy) is truly an honour.”
The surprise of the success means that new goals are now needed for next season. “We’re definitely going to have to go back to the drawing board, because we hit every goal that we ever imagined,” he added.