The 2 keys to playing par-4s well, according to Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele hits drive during 2022 Genesis Scottish Open

Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas led the PGA Tour in par-4 scoring average last season.

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No one played par-4s better last year than Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele, which is probably why the latter was asked to clarify his secret to success there.

Schauffele spoke to the media on Wednesday at the WM Phoenix Open, where his odds to win (+1600) are the fourth-best in the field. He’s played well at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, never finishing outside the top 20 in five starts and was third last year and second the year before.

But back to that par-4 scoring, which will be crucial this week (like every week). Schauffele and Thomas’ scoring average on those holes last year was 3.94, with the Tour average 4.04.

Schauffele said there’s probably multiple answers as to why he plays those holes well, but the key is to think your way around them.

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“There is a dominant side you can play to. Sort of play your way up — the fairway is obviously where everyone’s eyes goes, but if you kind of frame a certain hole a certain way based on how you hit it and how you’re hitting it, you can kind of give yourself a bigger advantage on a hole to certain pin locations,” he said. “I think probably last year I started chipping a little bit better than in years past, which probably helped me. You’re allowed to be a little bit more aggressive into pins, make a little bit more birdies, and then for the most part I’d say I play to the fat part of the green a lot of times. It just suits my eye most times. If the pin is left or right, I try and work it from the center of the green to the hole and I try and execute golf shots that way.”

Let’s recap: Notice his thought process starts on the tee, as putting his drive in the ideal location in the fairway is crucial to attacking the green. You want to give yourself the best angle, which means more green to work with and less hazards to deal with if you miss. From there, using the middle of the green as a starting point is a good practice. And while Schauffele and other pros can work the ball into pins more easily than amateurs, simply aiming for the middle of the green and not going for pins is a good practice for all golfers.

“That gives me a lot of opportunities to make a two-putt from 40 feet on par-4s where guys may short-side themselves,” Schauffele said. “Guilty of all those things I just said, but maybe that’s the answer.”

We’ll take his word for it.

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.