Sam Torrance: Justin Thomas is a fitting winner of the $10m FedEx Cup – but it's a shame that overshadowed Xander Schauffele's Tour Championship success

 
Sam Torrance
Follow Sam
TOUR Championship - Final Round
Thomas's runner-up spot was enough to claim the FedEx Cup (left) despite Schauffele (right) winning the season-ending Tour Championship (Source: Getty)

It was a shame that a lot of the sheen was taken off it, but I thought that Xander Schauffele handled the pressure magnificently down the stretch on his way to winning the Tour Championship on Sunday.

The PGA Tour’s rookie of the year deserved full marks for holding his nerve against the prolific Justin Thomas at East Lake to win by one shot and continue a brilliant start to his professional career.

Schauffele’s victory in the climax to the PGA Tour season followed a maiden title at the Greenbrier Classic in July and a share of fifth place on his US Open debut a few weeks earlier.

Read more: Justin Thomas wins FedEx Cup gong and $10m prize

The 23-year-old from California has superb rhythm in his swing and looks set for a bright future.

He didn’t quite get the glory that he deserved, however, because Thomas’s runner-up spot was enough to secure him the more lucrative season-ending FedEx Cup, which comes with a cheque for $10m.

I’m sure that when Schauffele woke up on Monday, however – basking in his biggest win yet and combined prize money of $3.75m – he was still a very happy young man.

Thomas's extraordinary season

In some ways it would have been a better ending to the FedEx Cup if Thomas had won the Tour Championship.

The 24-year-old didn’t manage a great last round on Sunday and played some bad shots but he fought back beautifully.

In any case, it was a fitting conclusion for Thomas to narrowly beat his good friend and now close rival Jordan Spieth in the order of merit. Thomas has been the better player this year and deserved it.

With five PGA Tour titles including a first Major at the US PGA Championship and $20m in prize money and bonuses, it really has been an extraordinary season for Thomas.

He has established himself in the top bracket with the likes of Spieth and Rory McIlroy and is part of a formidable line-up of young American players which also includes Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler.

Read more: Sam Torrance: Thomas spurred to US PGA by best mate Spieth

Thomas is sure to line up alongside them for a Ryder Cup debut in France next year.

He gets his first taste of what that will be like when he represents the United States for the first time in his pro career against an international team in the President’s Cup this week.

Beyond that, he will relax over Christmas and probably already can’t wait to come back in January.

Thomas has all the attributes – long, straight, great short game, lovely putter, great chipper – to be a multiple Major winner.

Paul Casey had put himself in contention at the Tour Championship by taking a two-shot lead into the final round only to finish fifth.

As has often been the case this season, the Englishman failed to reproduce his best form on Sunday, and that’s precisely when you need it most.

Bjerregaard masterful in Portugal

Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard had no such problems, holing eight birdies in his final round as he won a maiden European Tour title by four shots at the Portugal Masters.

It was a very special performance from the 26-year-old, who had been in danger of losing his tour card. He is a big, strong player and looks like one to watch in the future.

Portugal Masters 2017 - Day Two
Bjerregaard secured his European Tour card with the win (Source: Getty)

Scot Marc Warren also boosted his chances of keeping his card by finishing second.

Finally, McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia are among those in action at the British Masters this week. It’s a strong field and that’s testament to Lee Westwood, this year’s host.

Read more: $11.5m the potential prize on offer at Tour Championship

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles