Xander Schauffele didn’t have anything close to A game, but it was enough for him to be a winner again.
The 28-year-old Schauffele closed with an even-par 70 that was just good enough to beat Kurt Kitayama by one stroke in the 40th Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland.
The event was co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour ahead of the 150th Open Championship, which starts Thursday down the road on the famed Old Course at St. Andrews.
The 11th-ranked Schauffele captured the Travelers Championship in his last official start and also won the unofficial, 36-hole JP McManus Pro-Am at the beginning of the week, now has 10 victories as a pro including seven on the PGA Tour and will climb back to No. 5 in the World Golf Rankings this week.
“It was just a very average day and very stressful,” said Schauffele, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist. “This was the worst stuff I had all week, but once again I just tried not get ahead of myself. I was ahead, then behind, ahead again and just tried to keep my head down and keep going.
“It’s special to win here in Scotland, the home of golf, and the fans here are amazing. It’s a different kind of game here and winning this event is nice for all of my team and for myself. It’s great to win going into the Open next week.”
Schauffele, from La Jolla and San Diego State, took a two-stroke lead into the final round and built it to four with birdies on the first two holes before making bogeys on three of the last four holes of the front nine, but added two birdies on the back and wound up at 7-under 273 after another bogey on the last hole.
Kitayama, seeking his first PGA Tour victory after winning three times around the world including twice on the DP World Tour, collected six birdies but made his second bogey at No. 17 to finish with a 66 for his second runner-up finish this season, the other a tie for second in the Mexico Open to go with a solo third in the Honda Classic.
“I played well today and I knew I had to get off to a good start to be in contention, and I did with with four birdies on the front nine,” said Kitayama, who is from Chico and played college golf at ULNV. “I knew I just had to stay patient and remain calm out there in these conditions, and I thought I did a good job of that.
“It was great to play so well and finish the way I did because there are so many good players out there.”
Joohyung Kim of South Korea made two birdies on each nine and was bogey-free until the last hole to shoot 67 and wound up two shots behind in solo third, while seventh-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA birdied four of the first seven holes on his way to a 67 and was one more down in a tie for fourth with Tommy Fleetwood of England, who had three straight birdies on the back nine in another 67.
Brandon Wu of Danville and Stanford had two birdies on each nine against a single bogey in yet another 67 and was four strokes back in a tie for sixth with Cameron Tringale of Mission Viejo, the leader after each of the first two rounds who closed with a 70, Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who made three birdies on the back nine in his 67, and 10th-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, the U.S. Open champion, who shot 70.
Sixth-ranked Cameron Smith of Australia collected four birdies on the back nine in another 67 and finished five shots behind in a big tie for 10th with Jordan Spieth (72), Dean Burmester of South Africa (68), Thomas Detry of Belgium (69), Rasmus Hojgaard Denmark (70) and Alex Smalley (71).
Third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain sank 13-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole and tied for 55th after a 71, while ninth-ranked Sam Burns closed with a 74 to wind up in a tie for 66th.
Kitayama, Wu and Donaldson earned the three qualifying spots that were available for the 150th Open at St. Andrews, which is about 20 miles across the Firth of Forth from North Berwick, and a little more than 80 miles on the road.
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