HARTFORD, Conn. – Xander Schauffele continued his winning ways Tuesday several thousand miles from his previous victory nine days earlier in Connecticut.
After going more than 31/2 years without an individual stroke-play victory on the PGA Tour, Schauffele rallied to win the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell on June 26 thanks to help from rookie Sahith Theegala’s double bogey on the final hole.
Schauffele didn’t need any such aid in the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor in County Limerick, Ireland, that included 10 of the top 12 players in the Official World Golf Rankings. After shooting a bogey-free, course-record, 8-under-par 64 in the first round to forge a three-stroke lead, the 11th-ranked Schauffele carded a closing 2-under 70 for a 36-hole total of 134, one better than runner-up Sam Burns in the event that raised money for charities in Ireland.
Schauffele, who won the gold medal in 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan and teamed with close friend Patrick Cantlay to capture the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 24, birdied three birdies and his lone bogey of the tournament in the first seven holes, then carded 11 consecutive pars to complete a remarkably steady two rounds. This win added to his first wedding anniversary celebration that he shared with wife Maya on the day that he won the Travelers Championship.
Schauffele, 28, was born in San Diego, lives in Las Vegas and has six victories on the PGA Tour and one on the European Tour. He was born to a German naturalized immigrant father and a Taiwanese naturalized immigrant mother who grew up in Japan. His father has been his only swing coach, and his teaching philosophy relies heavily on basic ball flight laws and golf club mechanics, so he had not seen his own swing until about age 18.
Schauffele’s most significant PGA Tour victory was the Tour Championship in 2017, when he was Rookie of the Year. His best finish in a major championship is a tie for second in the 2018 Open Championship and the 2019 Masters, one shot behind Tiger Woods, and a tie for third in the 2019 U.S. Open. In December 2019, Schauffele played on the victorious U.S. team in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia. He went 3-2-0 and won his singles match against International star and veteran Adam Scott of Australia, earning “unsung hero” of the U.S. team in some media circles.
In the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc., Schauffele went 3-1-0, losing his singles match against Rory McIlroy, as the U.S. notched a record 19-9 victory over Europe. He and Cantlay were a successful team in both the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup and played together in the final group in the final round of the Travelers Championship.
Schauffele’s most recent success can be traced to a new putting routine implemented by him and caddie Austin Kaiser and could make him more of a force in bigger tournaments in the future.
“We play it pretty safe and conservative, that’s why we play well in majors,” Kaiser told John Rathouz of The Caddie Network after the Travelers Championship.
Since his victory in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January 2019, Schauffele had no wins but eight second-place finishes before his two-stroke victory at TPC River Highlands over Theegala and J.T. Poston, who won the John Deere Classic on Sunday.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for three years,” Kaiser said. “We won the Olympics, which in our mind is a win, but it’s not an official PGA Tour win but it’s definitely a monkey off the back. I could see the stress just leave him that moment he made that final (birdie) putt (from 3 feet), so it was good just being a part of it honestly.”
Kaiser also said Schauffele was solid with his wedges and short irons all week.
“We got on the plane ride home, and he goes ‘Man, we shouldn’t win at this course but we did’ and I was like ‘Well, your wedges and short irons were just amazing,’” Kaiser said.
And things didn’t change this week.
Burns, who has three wins on the PGA Tour this season to move to ninth in the world rankings, made eight birdies while shooting 65 for 135, one less than hometown favorite Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion who closed with 67. Irishman Padraig Harrington birdied the last two holes to equal Schauffele’s course record and finish fifth at 138. No. 1 ranked and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who tied for 13th in the Travelers Championship after four wins earlier this year, shot 69 to tie for 23rd at 144. No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who tied for 19th at TPC River Highlands, made an eagle 3 on the 18th hole to shoot 67 and tie for sixth at 138.
Leona McGuire, a LPGA Tour member from Ireland and the only woman in the 50-player field, shot 76 to finish in a tie for 33rd at 148 on the course that will be the site of the 2027 Ryder Cup. The event had a pro in each group with three amateurs who played a scramble and could use their pro’s tee shot.
Woods, making his first start since withdrawing after the third round of the PGA Championship on May 21 after struggling in cooler temperatures while shooting 79, shot 77-74 to tie for 39th while splitting time between walking and using a cart as he continues to recover from serious injuries sustained in a horrific car crash in February 2021. It was his tune-up for next week’s Open Championship at the famed Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, where he won two of his 15 major championships, including in 2000 by a modern-day-record eight strokes. He competed in the Masters in April, finishing 47th, but opted to skip last month’s U.S. Open, saying he needed to give his body more time to heal and get stronger.
The JP McManus Pro-Am was a prelude to the Genesis Irish Open, which begins Thursday at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick and will include Schauleffe and most of the other top players in this event. The field included players from the PGA Tour and renegade Saudi Arabian-funded LIV Golf Series, whose players have been suspended from the American and European circuits.