Schauffele had the best scoring rounds of the week – 67-65-67-66 – but could never overcome the seven-shot deficit with which he started. He said the proper man won.
“(Johnson) deserves to win,” Schauffele said. “He won the first (playoff event), tied for first in the second, and I don’t know where he finished here, but he obviously is playing great golf, and I think that’s what the playoffs are all about.”
Thomas, playing alongside Jon Rahm in the penultimate group, came out of the gate blazing. He birdied five of the first six holes, not even realizing he was just marking time and not getting any closer to creating a spike in Johnson’s imperceptible pulse rate.
“I didn’t worry about DJ,” he said. “First time I saw (a scoreboard) was on 12 and saw that he was 1 under. I was right there. I had a great chance. Felt like my (two) bogeys on the front were really from not bad shots, and I made enough birdies to at least give myself a chance on the back nine, which was all I could ask for being five back to start the day.”
But Thomas didn’t make a birdie on the back nine until the 16th hole, a little 11 footer that caused a little stir. Then he left his drive on the 17th well to the right and put his second shot in the bunker. His gloveless blast from the sand ignored his pleas to stop and came to a halt about 11 feet from the hole. He missed the putt, took a bogey and finished with the birdie at 18.
Schauffele’s best move came after birdies at No. 10 and 11 pulled him to within two shots of Johnson. But Schauffele bogeyed the 13th while Johnson coaxed in a 21-footer for par, and what little momentum he had built was extinguished.
“I bogeyed 13, and then he parred,” Schauffele said. “That was a big swing. He’s here to win the tournament. He made that putt, which I didn’t. That was a pinnacle moment, I think.”