Xander Schauffele capitalizes on good break, advances to round of 16 for first time
AUSTIN, Texas – Any player will tell you victories at the PGA Tour level almost always come with a dollop of luck, and that’s even more apropos at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Consider Xander Schauffele’s Day 3 match as an example of this truth.
Trailing Tom Hoge through 16 holes, Schauffele clawed even thanks to a particularly fortunate break at the par-3 17th hole, when he pulled his 9-iron left and it sailed over the green, caromed off a rock wall and rolled to 39 feet for an up-and-down par.
“I didn’t see it bounce. [His caddie] said it hit a rock and kind of came back in,” said Schauffele, who pointed out that Hoge also enjoyed a degree of luck on the hole after hitting his tee shot left. “His ball could have rolled down [a hill] and not have a shot, but we both got lucky there to be honest.”
Schauffele closed out the match with a 13-footer for birdie at No. 18 for a 1-up victory and his first trip to the Sweet 16 in the event, but it wasn’t easy against Hoge.
“I played a guy who had nothing to lose. On top of it being unfortunate, Tom Hoge, who rattles off 62, is even worse for me,” said Schauffele, who will play J.J. Spaun early Saturday in the first round of knockout play. “I knew he was going to be firing at pins. He’s a really good iron player. Kind of rolling it with freedom. That’s what he did for most of the day.”