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Xander Schauffele ignores narrative, wins PGA Championship



Xander Schauffele ignores narrative, wins PGA Championship


First main title ends streak of shut calls

Written by Cameron Morfit


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Xander Schauffele ate Italian meals and watched basketball the night time earlier than the largest spherical of his profession. He was again on the rental home along with his spouse, Maya, and their two canine, Chewie and Momo. His older brother Nico, who does the cooking, had made rooster piccata, and the crew, which additionally contains Xander’s uncle/supervisor, watched the NBA playoffs earlier than handing over.

On-line, folks have been clucking about his earlier feedback – “It’s one other Sunday. Successful a match is simply one other consequence” – saying they defined why he had not received because the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open, his seventh and nonetheless his most up-to-date PGA TOUR victory. And it was why this overly laid-back exemplar of SoCal chill hadn’t received a significant. He lacked one thing.

“I do not suppose I would ever take a look at it as missing,” Schauffele stated after taking pictures a final-round 65 to win the PGA Championship by a shot over Bryson DeChambeau (64) at Valhalla Golf Membership on Sunday. “I checked out it as somebody that’s making an attempt actually laborious and desires extra expertise.

“All these shut requires me,” he added, “even final week, that type of feeling, it will get to you in some unspecified time in the future. It simply makes this even sweeter.”

Xander Schauffele overcomes to seize first main at PGA Championship

Suffice it to say your latest main champion is just not very nicely understood, which is humorous contemplating he makes his residing largely on TV.

“I listened to his press convention final night time,” stated Max Homa (69, 8 below), “and I really feel like lots of people on-line have been saying, ‘Oh, this is the reason he hasn’t received, as a result of he is so process-oriented,’ and he stated it is only a consequence. However I do not suppose folks perceive that the greats of each sport, that’s precisely how they checked out it. They look forward to the dominoes to fall their manner.

“I believe (a victory) would imply actually little or no to him … for the way he goes about issues,” Homa continued. “He understands that he is doing the fitting issues. I simply suppose it might assist the narrative of him. I believe folks do not grasp simply how phenomenal a golfer he’s.”

Nicely, certain, the typical fan was beginning to really feel half in, half out on the concept Schauffele would ship. However that was earlier than his 6-footer for birdie straddled the left edge, circled, and dropped as he thrust his arms into the air on the par-5 18th, which DeChambeau had additionally birdied.

With that one putt, Schauffele laid waste to the outdated narratives. He had beforehand performed within the ultimate group on Sunday 4 instances this season, one shy of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler for many on TOUR, however Scheffler had 4 victories whereas Schauffele had none. He had held the final-round lead per week earlier on the Wells Fargo Championship however been overtaken by Rory McIlroy and completed second.

Xander Schauffele ignores narrative, wins PGA Championship

What’s extra, Schauffele had eight straight top-20 finishes within the majors, probably the most on TOUR, however no wins. He shot 62, tied for the bottom rating ever in a significant, within the first spherical ultimately summer season’s U.S. Open, however light to a tie for tenth.

He shot a final-round 74 to tie for second on the 2018 Open Championship, and a final-round 72 to tie for third on the 2021 Masters.

“Plenty of guys would dwell on all these shut calls, however I didn’t see it from him,” stated Schauffele’s caddie, Austin Kaiser, who has been with him for all of it. “Final week he shook my hand on 18 after Rory beat us and he goes, ‘We’re gonna win one in all these quickly, dude.’”

Quickly turned out to be precisely per week away.

Xander Schauffele’s interview after successful PGA Championship

The duality of Schauffele was on show early at Valhalla. Contained in the ropes, he shot one other first-round 62, the bottom spherical in PGA Championship historical past. Outdoors the ropes, he shrugged it off. It was just one spherical. A few 68s let the sector again into it, and by Saturday night time, he was tied with Collin Morikawa at 15 below. “I’ve bought to remain in my lane,” Schauffele stated Saturday night time.

Keep in my lane. Simply one other Sunday. Only a consequence. The world shrugged; perhaps this was how he needed to be in order not be blinded by the sparkly trappings doubtlessly awaiting him, on this case the Wanamaker Trophy.

“He is simply bought this unimaginable mixture of tremendous chill but in addition being actually intense,” stated Chris Como, the coach with whom Schauffele has been working since late final 12 months. “It is nearly like a paradox; it is loopy the place he sits. It is actually attention-grabbing and distinctive. He is so engaged each spherical, each shot, however then additionally (when) issues get a bit squirrely, it does not bend him out of practice in any respect.”

At greater than 7,600 yards, Valhalla was all the time going to favor an extended hitter, particularly within the rain. Schauffele has all the time had pop off the tee, and he started working with Como on the finish of final 12 months to make his misses with the driving force higher. Como was impressed with many points of his new pupil, one in all which was how a lot Schauffele already knew about what his physique was doing in the course of the swing.

Anybody who watched at Valhalla, or at Wells Fargo, may see that he was hitting it nice. What he wanted was to see a number of putts fall early Sunday, and he bought that with a birdie on the par-4 first gap. He birdied the fourth, as nicely, and when he holed an important par-saver on the sixth and one other birdie putt on the seventh, he stated, he felt fortified for the combat forward.

“I simply saved telling myself that – simply climate the storm,” he stated. “I knew that birdies needed to be made, so there was some aggression. It wasn’t like a match spherical the place I may form of sit again and shoot 2- or 3-under. It simply wasn’t going to be sufficient.

“I knew that I wanted to have some tempo on my putts, some extra aggressive strains coming into pins.”

It was straightforward to neglect that Schauffele had already received a giant one, claiming the gold medal on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His medal lives at his dad and mom’ home in San Diego, but it surely makes public appearances for photograph shoots, most just lately with 2016 gold medalist Justin Rose ultimately week’s Wells Fargo. That’s how Schauffele’s gold wound up making the journey to Louisville with him. (Dad Stefan Schauffele, who’s listed on Xander’s web site as “golf and psychological coach,” and Mother Ping-Yi weren’t at Valhalla.)

The place was Schauffele’s gold medal on Sunday?

“It’s in my backpack again on the home,” brother Nico stated with amusing. “Now we’ve bought a giant piece of silver to place it in.”

The actual fact is, the 2020 Olympics, though they have been pushed to 2021, have been so way back, and there had been so many misplaced alternatives since then, that Schauffele had nearly stopped getting credit score for his efficiency. However these closest to him by no means misplaced the religion.

“He’s fairly chill,” stated Rickie Fowler (71, 3 below), who performs apply rounds with Schauffele at Panther Nationwide and Medalist again in South Florida. “I actually get pleasure from being round him. I really feel like he’s bought that fiery aspect beneath, and he’s a rattling good competitor.”

Others sing the identical chorus about Schauffele: nice man, however fierce. When Schauffele made his 2015 skilled debut in Japan, he was paired with Chan Kim, who then made his residing on the Japan Golf Tour. They struck up a friendship that will develop into one in all mentor and mentee. Kim, a PGA TOUR rookie this season, was struggling on the Korn Ferry Tour early final season when he reached out to Schauffele.

“He had me ship him video of my swing,” Kim stated. “As a participant, he’s so extremely constant and in place to win a lot, however as an individual, he’s in all probability one of the best man you might have as a buddy.”

Schauffele’s solely egregious mistake Sunday was his bogey on the par-5 tenth gap, the place he went for an excessive amount of along with his second shot out of the golf green bunker and left his ball within the thick tough. He atoned for that glitch, although, with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12.

Xander Schauffele dials in strategy to arrange birdie at PGA Championship

From there it was a matter of maintaining his nostril out entrance, because the horse-racing crowd may say. He bought up and down for a hard-fought par on the seventeenth gap, setting the stage for the drama on the final. His drive on 18 stopped in a clumsy spot simply outdoors the sting of one other fairway bunker, necessitating a wild stance through which his ft have been nicely beneath the ball. With solely a fleeting thought for the worst-case state of affairs – a shank into the water – Schauffele gripped down on an extended iron … and caught it completely.

“He’s good at hitting these wonky photographs,” Kaiser stated. “There was little doubt we have been going to hit it. He was taking part in T-ball there. He hit an ideal shot and an ideal chip, however a straight putt is the toughest you’ll be able to must win a match.”

Xander Schauffele will get up-and-down for successful birdie at PGA Championship

After the ball caught the left edge and dropped, and in any case the cuddling and laughing, Schauffele known as his father, Stefan, who was in Hawaii. It was Stefan, a former Olympic hopeful in heptathlon, who had coached Xander, instilling in him from the age of 9 their three-word mantra – Commit; Execute; Settle for. And it was Stefan who had texted him, in German, a phrase the night time earlier than that Xander had wanted him to translate: “A gradual drip breaks the stone.” Solely now, on the telephone, Stefan himself was the regular drip.

“He was a multitude,” Schauffele stated. “He was crying on the telephone. … My dad is definitely — he is known as the ogre, however he is a giant teddy bear.”

As Xander Schauffele reminded at Valhalla, appearances might be deceiving.

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