TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 12: Xander Schauffele
Expectations have been raised after a two-win rookie season
December 19, 2017
Inside the PGA TOUR
Xander Schauffele storms onto the scene in rookie season
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
When Xander Schauffele lost his tee shot wide-right on the last hole of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Germantown, Tennessee, last summer, playing partner Steve Stricker thought the ball might not be findable.
Schauffele not only found the ball, he (deep breath) birdied the 18th to make a 5-for-2 playoff; survived the playoff; finished T5 at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in his first major championship start; won The Greenbrier Classic; held off Justin Thomas to win the TOUR Championship (becoming the first rookie to win that tournament in the FedExCup era); and to no one’s surprise was named Rookie of the Year.
Oh, he also finished third in the FedExCup.
Apparently, the La Jolla, California-born Schauffele, who played for San Diego State, has a game that can travel far and wide. In fact, he claims four nationalities, what with his French-German father and his Taiwanese mom who grew up in Japan.
A veritable one-man world tour, Schauffele was delighted to start his sophomore season at the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, where he not only enjoyed the local cuisine, he tied for third.
Hard to believe Schauffele missed the cut in his only two PGA TOUR starts of 2016, at the CareerBuilder Challenge and Farmers Insurance Open. If his 2018 is a continuation of his 2017, when he also made 20 cuts in 28 starts, he may have fellow high school Class of 2011 co-valedictorians Thomas and Jordan Spieth looking over their shoulders.
BY THE NUMBERS
How Xander Schauffele ranked in Strokes Gained statistics during his last full season on the PGA TOUR.
Current 2017-18 position: 39th
Playoff appearances: 1
TOUR Championship appearances: 1
Best result: 3rd (2017)
INSIGHTS FROM THE INSIDERS
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Xander Schauffele in 2018.
TOUR INSIDER by Ben Everill
Chip on the shoulder much? This youngster came out of nowhere in the minds of many to win twice last season, including the TOUR Championship. In the process, he took Rookie of the Year – and raised the expectation level. If you think this guy is inferior to his competition, he will up his game and prove you wrong and step on your throat on the way past. When the big moments came, he was ready to handle it. Fascinated to see if he keeps it going or suffers from any second-year syndrome.
FANTASY INSIDER by Rob Bolton
It was unprecedented in the FedExCup era for any golfer with some pedigree to carry it to the heights that he reached en route to Rookie of the Year honors in 2016-17. He didn't shift into overdrive until the U.S. Open, where he tied for fifth. So, despite a massive swing in performance and no doubt confidence, gamers have reason to remain skeptical. For one, he cannot be expected to sustain the pace of the last six months. And while he's logged five top-fives worldwide since Erin Hills, two were victories that can inflate long-term value for the previously unproven.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Played TaylorMade's M2 2017 driver and M1 2017 3-wood during the 2016-17 season. Mixed P-Series iron setup includes a P790 2-iron that first made an appearance in Schauffele's bag during the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Vokey SM6 wedges have a raw finish that gradually rusts over time to produce a well-worn look. Only other non-TaylorMade club is an Odyssey Works Big-T #5 putter.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
Schauffele is one of the exciting young guns on TOUR and he has the fashion game to match. He frequently steps out in super clean looks that blend classic sensibilities with modern details. He will give Dustin Johnson a run for best dressed on the Adidas staff in 2018.