American Xander Schauffele, the 2017 Tour Championship victor, jumped out of the pack and ran down Woodland with an fantastic final-round of 11-under par 62 that included two eagles - one from a chip-in at the par-five ninth and then a 100-metre wedged hole-out at the par-four 12 hole.
Schauffele went into the final round five strokes back and slipped further behind with an opening-hole bogey, only to fire a course record-equalling 62 and claim a one-shot victory.
The Northern Irishman briefly tied for the lead in Hawaii but remains three shots behind America's Gary Woodland, 34, who had been the halfway leader.
Tied with Woodland over the closing holes, Schauffele finished birdie-birdie to match four players for the record.
In his final round at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Rory McIlroy hit 9 of 15 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation, and had a great day on the green leaving no misses on putts within 10 feet. He closed with a 68.
Woodland was watching, and he answered with an approach to 12 feet for the second birdie of the day.
Xander Schauffele figured he had nothing to lose. He chose to wait in the trailer, listening to traffic over the radios, taking a second to realize that Woodland had missed his putt and it was over.
He doesn't get as much attention as some others from the vaunted high school class of 2011 - Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas head that list. That included a storming playoff victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in October.
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Woodland has never won on the PGA Tour in the six previous times he had the 54-hole lead in stroke play.
He found no consolation in losing to a guy who shot 62 in a Kona wind, the tougher of the two directions on the west end of Maui. "My goal today was to birdie the par-fives and make a couple more and see if that was enough".
"You kind of look around and realize you have nothing to lose", Schauffele said, who is now the first multiple victor of the 2018-19 season. I had killed the par-5s all week this week, which is what you got to do out here. I want my driving accuracy to get up into the 60 percent number.
Rory McIlroy said he had the flawless warmup for the Sentry Tournament of Champions back home in Jupiter, Fla., last month.
Justin Thomas' last round of 65 moved him into outright 3rd place one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson who shared 4th with Mark Leishman and Rory McIlroy, neither of whom could mount a serious final round challenge.
"I obviously could have shot a better score, but I did what I wanted to do, gave myself plenty of chances, just couldn't get the ball to drop".
"Until you're world No.1, you're chasing".