Trailing Gary Woodland by five entering the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Xander Schauffele faced an uphill climb if he wanted to contend, but it wasn’t an impossible task. However, when he bogeyed the opening hole on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, contending, let alone winning, seemed highly unlikely.

But the X-man found another gear at the third hole, where he began what could go down as the most incredible stretch of golf of his career. Schauffele made four birdies on his next five holes, then capped off a front-nine 31 with a 54-foot eagle chip-in at the par-5 ninth. After back-to-back ho-hum pars at 11, he holed out for his second eagle, this one from 106 yards at the par-4 12th, to pull within one shot of Woodland’s lead. Four more birdies on his final six holes closed out an 11-under 62, good enough for a one-stroke victory over Woodland, who missed a 10-footer for birdie at the 18th to force a playoff.

The win is the fourth of the 25-year-old Schauffele’s career, and his second in as many starts on tour, the last coming in late October at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

“It was a crazy day,” he said. “I started off poorly, chipped in and then holed out shortly after that. I didn’t do much leader board watching early in the round, and I knew it was going to be a birdie-fest coming in. We kept our head down and tried to run for it.”

Chasing is something Schauffele is making a habit of on tour. All four of his victories have been in come-from-behind fashion, none as impressive as Sunday’s in Maui. Apparently, he’s a fan of the aggressive, freed-up approach.

“Got nothing to lose. Wind was down, the easier holes played easier and the tougher holes played harder, so we figured if we could kind of sneak a few in on the tougher holes we might have a chance.”

With the victory Schauffele has now moved to No.6 in the world, and he’s already amassed more than $US3 million in earnings in just five starts this season. Good work if you can get it.

As for Woodland, he played well enough to win, carding a final-round 68 without a bogey. But he got beat by a red-hot player, which now puts his record on converting 54-hole leads at 1-for-8. The loss will hurt, but there’s plenty to take from it heading into the rest of 2019.

“Obviously he was playing great. My goal today was to birdie the par 5s and make a couple more and see if that was enough,” said Woodland. “Obviously I needed to birdie the last there, but, I’m playing great. Frustrated right now, but Xander played great. Hats off to him.”

Justin Thomas played the second-best round of the day, firing an eight-under 65 to finish in solo third. Dustin Johnson also cracked the top 10 with a final-round 67, putting him in a tie for fourth with Australia’s Marc Leishman and Rory McIlroy, whose Sunday struggles continued as he carded a one-under 72.