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Posted April 14, 2019 05:04 pm
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Runner-up finish doesn't displease Schauffele

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    Xander Schauffele's runner-up finish is his fourth top-10 in eight major starts. [ANDY NELSON/FOR THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Xander Schauffele fought back from an opening 73 to briefly seize the lead on the second nine Sunday in the final round of the 83rd Masters Tournament. Although he fell one shot short of a playoff, Schauffele departed Augusta National feeling confident about the future and honored to contend on a historic day in golf.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Schauffele, who closed with 68. “I think this situation is very unique. I'm not one bit sad. I told my caddie on the last hole that we just proved to ourselves that we can win on this property.”

It felt like a dream, he said, to compete against Tiger Woods down the stretch. He and his peers congratulated Woods outside the clubhouse after the champion walked off the 18th green and through a sea of cheering patrons.

Playing in the third-to-last group and 1-over par through seven holes, Schauffele climbed the leaderboard with five birdies in the next seven holes, dropping an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 14 to take the lead at 12 under.

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“I knew that putt was for the lead for the moment,” he said. “Obviously the leaders were going into 13 ... and then once I parred 15, I knew I was in a bit of trouble, as well as 16, because the greens are a little soft and very gettable.”

Schauffele parred the final four holes, getting up-and-down from the greenside bunker on 18.

“If I just have a little more experience – even coming down the stretch, I had a couple putts that I've never hit on property and I was sitting there laughing with my caddie because I hit it six feet past or left it five feet short,” he said.

Ranked No. 10 in the world, Schauffele, 25, should earn ample opportunities to learn the nuances of Augusta National and enhance an already stellar major championship record. Sunday’s runner-up finish was the fourth top-10 in eight majors for the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. He enjoyed his “30 seconds in the sun” and swirling winds as the outright leader.

He also understood the magnitude of Woods’ remarkable performance.

“It was really cool coming down the stretch, all the historic holes, Amen Corner, 15, 16, Tiger making the roars,” he said. “ I was trying to push myself, but I feel like I got a very full, fully‑filled Masters experience.”