‘Really immature’: Xander Schauffele gets candid about major that got away

Xander Schauffele hits out of a bunker during the final round of the 2018 Open Championship.

Xander Schauffele hits out of a bunker during the final round of the 2018 Open Championship.

Getty Images

Xander Schauffele didn’t want yet another close call to tarnish his resume. That’s what he was thinking standing over his PGA Championship-winning putt at Valhalla last month.

“You make this and you change your life,” he said. “This is what you’ve wanted your whole life.”

You know by now he, in fact, did make it, finally shedding the “Best Player Never To Win A Major” title. Up until then, Schauffele had 12 major top 10s (although he does own an Olympic gold medal) but zero major victories.

On Tuesday at the Memorial, speaking to the media prior to his first start since his PGA triumph, Schauffele was asked if any of those close calls stood out to him or bugged him.

Carnoustie, he said.

At that point of his career, back in 2018, that Open Championship was only his sixth major start. He had two major top 10s before that (both at the U.S. Open) but he was still relatively new to major championship golf.

That was also the first time in his career he held a 54-hole co-lead at a major. Schauffele was tied with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner at nine under, and they were two clear of Kevin Chappell and three ahead of eventual winner Francesco Molinari.

But Spieth and Schauffele, in that final Sunday pairing, faded on the front nine. They parred the first four holes, but Spieth went bogey-double on the next two. Schauffele played Nos. 5-7 in four over.

“That front nine Jordan and I played, I mean, we played terrible together,” Schauffele said Tuesday. “We were feeding off each other in the worst ways. It felt so fast. Like I remember the front nine, like I can’t even remember the shots that I hit on the front nine, but I just remember the feeling of, like, we got to 10 and we’re like, what just happened to this tournament-type feel.

“And then I remember I sort of took a really deep breath — the nerves were all gone because I was shooting [40] on the front or whatever it was — I put my head down and was able to sort of salvage almost having a shot at coming and winning the thing, which was really cool. But those spots are, it’s really interesting how — a tale of two nines — and to me that just was, I was really immature at that time, and when I look back at the event, that’s like a big example in my head of sort of like, OK, this was a time that it got away from you, a time that everything felt really fast, a time that you felt like you weren’t in control of anything you were doing.”

After that forgettable front nine, Schauffele birdied 10 and 14, and despite a bogey on 17 he still made it interesting, coming up two short of Molinari. But he said Tuesday it’s crucial to learn from those losses — and he proved last month that he did.

“I look back when I have to,” he said. “Yeah, I think it’s important to. You don’t want to fail and then just say, screw it, I’m moving on. I think it’s important to understand everything that happened and address it so you have some closure to that moment.”

Schuaffele is paired with Viktor Hovland for the first two rounds of the Memorial. They’ll kick off their first round at 10:20 a.m. ET on Thursday.

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.

Watch, play, win. Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games.

Watch, play, win

Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games. Featuring simple to play. easy to learn, and fun games. Chirp Golf has something for every golf fan.

Scan to Download:

Google Play Apple Store