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Xander Schauffele back to winning ways at Travelers Championship

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CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT - JUNE 26: Xander Schauffele of the United States poses with the trophy after putting in to win on the 18th green during the final round of Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 26, 2022 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT - JUNE 26: Xander Schauffele of the United States poses with the trophy after putting in to win on the 18th green during the final round of Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 26, 2022 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Birdies 18th for two-shot victory over faltering Sahith Theegala, J.T. Poston

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    Xander Schauffele wins 6th PGA TOUR title by two at Travelers

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Trust the process. It’s easy to say, harder to do.

    Xander Schauffele was acutely aware that he hadn’t won an individual PGA TOUR event since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions, even if he’d captured a few – ahem – rather significant titles. And it was gnawing at him.

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    “I think subconsciously, or without myself even really knowing, I was getting a little impatient,” Schauffele said after carding a final-round 68 to win the Travelers Championship by two over Sahith Theegala (67) and J.T. Poston (64). “And this week I was just trying to be as aware – self-aware as possible to just stay as patient as possible.”

    It paid off in the sixth TOUR title for Schauffele, who moves to No. 8 in the FedExCup standings.

    Theegala took the lead outright with a birdie on 17, but double-bogeyed the last to open the door. Schauffele split the fairway on 18, and with his second victory of the season in the balance – after the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a team event – he hit his approach shot to 3 feet for birdie, leaving no doubt.

    Doubt. Schauffele’s team – his father and coach, Stefan; his caddie, Austin Kaiser – saw the way it was eating at their man, perhaps even before he did. Stefan told him to stop tinkering with his swing. Kaiser reminded him of the Olympic gold medal he won last year, among other wins. Those weren’t nothing.

    “He was kind of searching for some winning formula that we know doesn’t really exist,” Kaiser said. “People don’t remember his gold medal, which was only a year ago, because it doesn’t count for a TOUR win. There were a lot of overlooked victories. I said, ‘You’re not in a dry spell. You won events.’ Yes, Zurich is a team event, but he played well enough to win.

    “It was just getting him to stay patient. Even today with this wind, it was about patience.”

    Schauffele, 28, felt his patience wearing especially thin after he missed a short birdie putt on 18 to fall a shot shy of the Scottie Scheffler/Patrick Cantlay playoff at the WM Phoenix Open in February.

    “It was probably around (The Genesis Invitational at) Riviera,” Kaiser said. “He was kind of stressing. ‘We need to play better. We need to get a win.’ You could tell he was feeling a burden on his shoulders, and I just told him, ‘Dude, you’re a summer soldier. You play so well in the summer.’ I’m like, ‘Just keep hitting it like you are. Everything is going to click.’”

    It did click in New Orleans, Schauffele’s first TOUR win since the 2019 Sentry, breaking a streak of eight runner-up finishes without a victory. That he’d finally won again was great; the only caveat was that he’d done so with a partner, Cantlay.

    Schauffele kept at it, carding a final-round 61 for a T5 at the AT&T Bryson Nelson. He finished T13 at the PGA Championship, T18 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, and T14 at the U.S. Open. His team knew he was close; all they had to do was make sure he didn’t make any ill-advised changes as he rolled into TPC River Highlands.

    “His putting clicked this week,” Kaiser said. “He played amazing.”

    Schauffele was No. 4 in Strokes Gained: Putting, gaining nearly two shots on the field per day. And on a course rife with so much water and long grass that Rory McIlroy (67, T19) made a quadruple bogey, triple bogey and double bogey, Schauffele made nothing worse than bogey – and he made only three of those.

    He wasn’t even thrown when he misremembered his first-round tee time as 7:50 a.m. when it was in fact 7:35.

    “Austin was not very happy with me,” Schauffele said. “Considering the fact that he sat there for 45 minutes by himself on the putting green kind of looking like an idiot.”

    Not that either man was thrown for a loop; all Schauffele did was go out and hit 18 of 18 greens in regulation, prompting Kaiser to joke that perhaps they should cut down on their warm-up.

    “His ball-strike the first two rounds was the best I’ve ever seen it,” Kaiser said. “For him to win, he just needs to do everything solid; he doesn’t have to do anything immaculate. Only three bogeys is very good around here, and we preach bogey-avoidance.”

    Stefan Schauffele was not here this week; Xander’s dad was back home, and played golf himself on this day, with Xander’s mom, Chen Ping-Yi. Maya Schauffele, Xander’s wife, wasn’t here, either, but the winner noted that Sunday was their one-year anniversary. He finished up his media obligations and planned to fly back in time for a late celebration.

    “This is a big win for me mentally,” he said. “Just because I sort of had to check myself, you know what I mean? When you've been out here and things are going easy, you just expect to play well all the time. Sometimes it's good to take a step back.”

    Cameron Morfit began covering the PGA TOUR with Sports Illustrated in 1997, and after a long stretch at Golf Magazine and joined PGATOUR.COM as a Staff Writer in 2016. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.

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