Xander Schauffele tried but could not chase down Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland smiles as Xander Schauffele congratulates him after he won the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club Sunday, August 27, 2023, in Atlanta. 
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Viktor Hovland smiles as Xander Schauffele congratulates him after he won the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club Sunday, August 27, 2023, in Atlanta. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Xander Schauffele shot 62 in the final round of the Tour Championship on Sunday – and lost by five strokes.

That’s what happens when leader Viktor Hovland shoots a 63.

Sure, shoot 8-under par and make up one whole stroke. That’s almost cruel.

Schauffele pushed winner Hovland in the final pairing and got as close to three shots back. However, Hovland closed with three straight birdies to stomp out any chance for Schauffele. Hovland captured the FedEx Cup title with the runaway Tour Championship win at East Lake Golf Club Sunday. He had a six-stroke lead heading into the final round.

“I’ll hold my head up high,” Schauffele said afterward. “It was the most fun I had losing in quite some time. It’s such a weird feeling. I shot 62. I lost by five. Just kudos to Havi. He played unbelievably well the last few weeks to get himself into this position and to really just put a cherry on top for himself and his team.”

What back pain?

So much for not being able to move.

Rory McIlroy experienced spasm and seizure in his back coming into the Tour Championship. They were so bad that on Wednesday, one day before the start of the tournament, McIlroy said he could hardly move.

McIlory gutted his way around East Lake Golf Club for four days. He finished fourth. McIlroy shot rounds of 70-67-71-65. The defending FedEx Cup champion never challenged for the title, but he finished the staggered scoring event at 14-under par. He fell just one spot from where he started at third in the point standings.

“Hung in there the first couple days when I really wasn’t feeling great,” McIlroy said Sunday. “Then quite a bit of improvement (Saturday). Then felt I could actually tee the driver up a bit today and hit a couple of tee shots in the air. Felt like I could cover the ball more with my irons. So, just excited that I’m feeling better.”

Winners and losers

Sorry Jon Rahm, it really is about the money.

Despite Rahm’s protestations earlier this week that too much attention is given the huge FedEx Cup payouts here at the Tour Championship, this event’s very foundation is the lottery-like winnings awaiting the playoff’s final 30 survivors. It’s this week’s reason for being.

So, on the scoreboard that matters greatly, here are the biggest gainers this week at East Lake:

No one can touch Viktor Hovland’s move, of course. He began the week at No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings, which pays $6.5 million. By taking but a single step up to No. 1, he’s pocketing $18 million – a cool $11.5 million gain over four days of golf.

This week Xander Schauffele went from 15th after the FedEx semifinal ($760,000) to 2nd after the Tour Championship ($6.5 million) – plus $5.74 million.

Here are some of the other winners:

Wyndham Clark from ninth ($1.25 million) to third ($5 million) – plus $3.75 million.

Collin Morikawa from 24th ($565,000) to T-6 ($2 million) – plus $1.435 million.

Tommy Fleetwood from 11th ($950,000) to T-6 ($2 million) – plus $1.05 million.

Adam Schenk from 23rd ($580,000) to T-9 ($990,000) – plus $410,000.

And then there are the losers over the week, if that’s what you can call anyone at an event where last place pays a half-mil:

Scottie Scheffler from 1st a week ago ($18 million) to T-6 ($2 million) – a $16 million haircut.

Rahm from 4th ($4 million) to T-18 ($670,000) – down $3.33 million.

Lucas Glover from 5th ($3 million) to T-18 ($670,000) – down 2.33 million.

Brian Harman from eighth ($1.5 million) to 23rd ($580,000) – down $920,000.

Weather delay

Final-round play was suspended on Sunday at 1:57 p.m. due to lightning in the area of East Lake Golf Club. All 30 golfers were on the course, with leaders Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele on the second hole. Play resumed at 3:50 p.m. after an hour and 53 minute delay.

There was also a 77-minute weather delay during Saturday’s third round.