KAPALUA, Hawaii — Xander Schauffele finished stronger than everyone around him Saturday, and it was good enough to keep a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Schauffele closed with three pars for a 2-under 71 as he tries to become only the third player to win back-to-back in this winners-only event at Kapalua, and the first since Geoff Ogilvy in 2010.
This was a matter of not losing ground in the final hour.
Justin Thomas, who won at Kapalua three years ago, ran off five birdies on the front nine to take the lead until his first three-putt bogey of the week on the 12th hole. He misjudged the wind on another 6-foot par putt at the 17th and failed to birdie the par-5 18th for a 38 on the back nine. That gave him a 69 and a sour taste.
Thomas will be in the final group as he goes for his third win in his last seven starts on the PGA Tour. But he typically scores well on the back nine, and he lost ground on this day.
Thomas wasn’t alone. Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies to get into the mix, only to hit a tee shot out of bounds on the 14th and hit another tee shot into the waist-high weeds on the 18th, leading to bogey. He shot 39 on the back for a 73.