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A Special Moment for the Schauffele's

A Special Moment for the Schauffele's

4,400 miles away, Xander Schauffele’s dad celebrated from a shipping container

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After his putt fell and his arms raised, after he hugged his wife and signed his scorecard and took the first of ten thousand photos, after he struck the final blow that slayed the dragon, Xander Schauffele had a moment of stillness to do something important.

He called his dad.

Stefan Schauffele has been a fixture on Tour Xander’s entire career, known as much for his iconic look — he strolls the fairways wearing a linen shirt, straw hat and mischievous grin — as for his role as his son’s lifelong swing coach. He’s always been there. But in recent months he’s been there slightly less. And he wasn’t here. Xander shouted out both his parents, Stefan as well as his mother, Ping Yi, in his winner’s interview. When Xander reached him by phone, Stefan was bawling. And then Xander, among golf’s famous flatliners, started to cry, too.

“I told him I had to hang up,” he said later. The newly minted PGA Champion was about to do another interview, after all. More photos would follow. “I couldn’t show up looking like the way I was.”

His father understood.

THERE WAS A MOMENT where Schauffele’s major hopes stood on the edge of a knife.

He’d begun Sunday’s final round tied for the lead and then played clutch, inspired golf on his opening nine, holing a series of clutch putts en route to a four-under 31. Suddenly he was ahead by two. But when he made a bogey at the gettable par-5 10th while the chase pack made birdies up ahead, that lead vanished. His chance at his first major swung from feeling likely to decidedly precarious.

Some 4,400 miles away from Valhalla Golf Club, the man who has helped architect every step of Xander’s golfing life wasn’t watching. But he was on his way. The back nine meant it was time to head down the hill to find a TV.

“I left my little container to go,” he said via phone call later Sunday evening.

Stefan was in Hawaii. On Kauai, to be specific. He’s there often these days, living in a tiny shipping container on a rural hillside. He’s always made grand plans but this is perhaps his most ambitious; he’s overseeing construction of what is essentially a family compound where he can spend time and his family can visit and find rejuvenation. Ping Yi was in San Diego this week so Stefan is there solo. There’s plenty of work to do.

“It’s my sanatorium,” he said. “Where I can heal and lose weight and get better. It’s been a lot on my body, getting to this point in life.”

He enjoys being outside and being by the ocean. Tractoring. Chopping stuff. In Kauai he’s serving as builder-owner, essentially playing the role of general contractor. He needs the 22-acre farm to be perfect. A self-designed steel-and-concrete house that can exist completely off the grid, self-sustaining on water, electricity and even trash. A place to heal, to recharge, to grow. And to grow taro, too. This will be a working farm.

But for now, it’s a shipping container without a television.

Stefan didn’t watch much of the PGA early in the week. He didn’t see his son’s opening-round 9-under 62 nor how he got to the 36-hole lead. But by Saturday afternoon he descended to a local sports bar for the back nine. And on Sunday he joined some friends from California who happened to be vacationing in the area; he watched the finale from their rental.

When Xander won Olympic gold in Tokyo, Stefan was there to greet him behind the 18th green; Xander said afterwards he’d relished their bear hug because he knew how much the win meant to his dad. But on this Sunday Stefan brushed aside the idea that he’d missed out.

“I’m not really a big fan of Kentucky,” he said with a laugh. “No, I get my moment with Xander later. When we hug, whenever that is, that’s going to be just fine. That suffices.”

There’s a part of Stefan that’s inclined to shrug at the whole thing. “Major champion” was just the logical next step in the plan he’d formulated with his son, something they both knew was bound to happen. Xander had been playing such good golf in the game’s biggest tournaments for so long that it was only a matter of time before he broke through.

“We knew it was going to come,” Stefan said matter-of-factly. “In our minds — I think I can speak for him there — there was never a moment of doubt in that respect. I mean, look how consistent he is. It just happened.”

But how did he feel when that final putt dropped? When that six-footer for absolutely everything caught the left edge and fell in?

“I just started crying. Finally it happened. Finally, that happened,” he said, inevitability replaced by wonder. “I was just observing until he won — and then I let the emotions go. At that moment I was helpless. Give me the Kleenex box.”

THERE WAS SOMETHING FITTING, if melancholy, about Stefan’s physical distance. The culmination of this journey has included an element of the bird leaving the nest. In recent months Xander has spent more time working with swing coach Chris Como; Stefan hasn’t been replaced but he’s been supplemented. In golf, little changes are big changes, and Stefan said that’s what this has been.

“Chris changed a teeny thing and he found answers that Xander and I together couldn’t come up with,” he said. “We went trial and error, we went empirical, I couldn’t answer it. What is the point here? I didn’t know. But Chris had the answer right away.”

“Now that I’m working with Chris, [my dad] feels like he can kind of take his hands off the wheel,” Xander said. “He trusts him a lot, I trust him a lot.”

The fix involved a minute change at the top of Schauffele’s swing. It had to do with his hyperflexibility and his unique release pattern. “It was something that I had absolutely no clue about,” Stefan said. “But he was familiar with it and it worked right away. This was not some momentous swing change. But it meant clarity and control.”

After his round Xander admitted he’d used one title — the best player without a major — as fuel. Stefan is eager to put that narrative to rest. He hopes other narratives fall, too, and that this will help the world see another side to his son.

“One thing that has bothered me is the idea that Xander is this flaccid, boring guy,” he said. “But Jordan [Spieth] said it in an interview; ‘shockingly the funniest guy in the locker room is Xander.'”

Spieth’s account checks out; Xander is funny and he’s well-liked by his peers. He’s notably forthright, too. He and his father share that quality.

“Xander doesn’t fake it,” Stefan said. “He’s not himself and he’s not putting on some persona. From a young age he just has never lied because then you don’t get tangled. You don’t have to remember what s–t you told that person the last time you met them; you don’t have to hide anything. You just talk.”

The win, he said, elevates everything. He’s right. This victory makes previous close calls look like feathers in his cap. You can’t call him a loser, now he’s a frequent major contender with a long list of top fives and 10s and 20s to prove it. To quote Xander as he sat beside the Wanamaker Sunday night:

“You guys are asking the questions and I have to sit here and answer ’em. It’s a lot easier to answer it with this thing sitting next to me now, obviously.”

As for his on-course persona? That, too, depends on your perspective.

“Look at Tiger,” Stefan said. “When Tiger was on the golf course he was this stoic guy. He wouldn’t talk to guys in his group. There was no smile ever. But because he was so prolific people would look beyond that.

“If Xander wins more frequently maybe that idea that he’s too stoic will go away. And when he jokes around with the press maybe that comes more to the foreground and people actually see him for who he is. I’d like the world to know him as he truly is.

“He’s a good guy, my boy.”

Source: GolfNews

Rory's Special Day

Rory's Special Day

Rory McIlroy rallies by Xander Schauffele to win Wells Fargo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rory McIlroy has a full head of steam heading into the PGA Championship.

McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship for a record fourth time Sunday with another dominating performance at Quail Hollow, easily overcoming a two-stroke deficit to beat Xander Schauffele by five shots.

No other player has won the event more than twice.

McIlroy closed with a 6-under 65, playing the final 11 holes in 6 under even with a double bogey on the 18th hole. He finished at 17-under 267 after four straight rounds in the 60s and won his second straight PGA Tour event after teaming with Shane Lowry to take the Zurich Classic two weeks ago in New Orleans.

That should give McIlroy plenty of momentum heading to Kentucky for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, the site of his last major win 10 years ago.

"I really got some confidence," McIlroy said. "My golf swing feels a lot more comfortable than it has. So going to a venue next week where I've won, it feels like the stars are a lining a little bit. But I've got a lot of golf to play and a lot of great players to try to beat next week. Going into the next major of the year feeling really good about myself."

Schauffele shot 71.

McIlroy trailed by two after Schauffele made an eagle on the par-5 seventh, but the world's second-ranked player quickly shifted into another gear.

The star from Northern Ireland pulled even after birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 and then made a 33-foot eagle putt on the 10th for his first lead of the tournament after Schauffele settled for birdie.

Schauffele's bogey at 12 gave McIlroy more breathing room.

McIlroy then essentially sealed the win on 13 when he made birdie and Schauffele missed another putt for bogey, resulting in a four-shot advantage.

But McIlroy wasn't done.

He made another birdie on 14 and then punctuated the victory by chipping in from the sand for another eagle on No. 15 to move to 19 under, completing a remarkable stretch of playing eight holes ion 8-under par.

"He's Rory McIlroy, you know?" Schauffele said. "He hits it 350 yards in the air downwind and he has shorter clubs into firm greens than anyone else. When he's on, he's on. Hats off to him for winning. He played unbelievably well."

At that point the only question was if McIlroy could match his own course record of 61 and tournament record of 21 under.

He didn't.

But he managed a smile when he blew his second shot on No. 18 over the green and into the water and had to take a drop. He tapped in for a double bogey victory as the crowd chanted his name.

"I birdied mine and then I just went on a run that for whatever reason I'm able to go on at this golf course," McIlroy said. "Quail Hollow, Charlotte in general has been really good to me over my career and this is just another great day to sort of add to all the rest of them."

McIlroy's finish was reminiscent of 2010 when he carded six straight 3s en route to a final round 62 to beat Phil Mickelson for his first career PGA Tour win. He also won the event in 2015 and 2021.

This was his 10th career top 10 at the event, the most at any PGA Tour stop in his career

McIlroy has long called Quail Hollow one of his favorite courses because it allows for him to take advantage of his length off the tee. But it was his putting that won him the 26th career PGA Tour title Sunday.

He needed just 25 putts, making five longer than 10 feet.

For Schauffele, it was a disappointing ending to a strong week.

He finished second for the second straight year and saw his winless drought stretch to 39 tournaments, a streak dating to 2022. He led by four shots after 36 holes.

Schauffele is now 3-for-9 converting 54-hole leads into wins in his PGA Tour career and has 21 top 10s and 13 top 5s since his last win at the Genesis Scottish Open

Byeong Hun An was third at 9 under, and Jason Day and Sungjae Im tied for fourth a 6 under.

McIlroy thanked his mother Rosie, who was in Florida, after the Mother's Day victory.

"My mom's amazing," McIlroy said. "I think most people know my dad, but my mom is like the sort of rock or the gel that holds our family together, she always has been. I said this last night, I'm probably a lot more like my dad than I am my mom, but I wish I was a little more like my mom at times."

Max Homa turned in the shot of the day.

Homa holed from the rough from 213 yards for an eagle on No. 1, with his ball landing on the front of the green and rolling all the way to the back before hitting the flagstick hard and dropping in. But the two-time Wells Fargo champion couldn't build on the momentum after that shooting 72 and finishing in ninth place.

Source: ESPN