Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

Travelers Championship

Contending again, PGA champ Xander Schauffele admits he's been 'in denial' about being worn out

June 21, 2024

Xander Schauffele lines up a putt on the third green during the second round of the Travelers Championship.

James Gilbert

Considering the level of his competition over his last five starts, the results are truly impressive. Since mid-May, Xander Schauffele has finished second in the signature Wells Fargo Championship, won the PGA Championship, placed eighth in the signature Memorial, and last week tied for eighth in the U.S. Open. For the season, the San Diegan has 11 top-10s in 15 starts, and only Scottie Scheffler (duh) has been consistently better (12 top-10s, five wins). The winner at Pinehurst No. 2, Bryson DeChambeau, is the only player to have gone cumulatively lower in scoring among the three majors played.

It has truly been a season like no other for Schauffele, who’s won a whopping $12.2 million in the process.

And it’s also been one heck of a grind of late. Ater shooting a second-straight five-under-par 65 on Friday at TPC River Highlands to be tied for fourth, three shots behind leader Tom Kim, heading into the weekend of the signature Travelers Championship, Schauffele admitted as much.

“I think I was in a little bit of denial,” Schauffele, 30, said. “This is probably the most in contention I've ever been in my life through a pretty hot stretch of golf. I think I'm probably more worn down than … I wanted to admit to my team. I think I got tired once everyone told me that I looked tired. I felt like I was fine.

“It's a lot of golf and, yeah, I think not playing this afternoon for myself is going to be helpful to sort of rest up and get ready for the weekend.”

The PGA Tour moved up the tee times on Friday because of storms in the Cromwell, Conn., area, and the entire field was done earlier than usual. That meant some recovery time for everyone who has competed for three straight weeks for some of the largest prizes of the season in both money and points.

Understand, Schauffele, whose PGA Championship triumph at Valhalla gave him eight career victories, is not even close to complaining about the work. This is essentially what the tour delivered to the game’s top players so they could have stretches of playing against the top level of competition.

In Schauffele’s case, one week has built on the next.

“For us golfers it's like a drug to be in contention. It's an awesome feeling,” he said. “It's why we practice, it's why we play the game, at least speaking for myself. Having a lot of opportunities to be in that final group on Sunday, even though I haven't gotten it done very often—only once actually, in the last two years—is all I could ask for.”

Coached for years only by just father, Stefan, Schauffele has worked more recently with Chris Como, and the golfer has called it a “slow trickle” of information to help him both mentally and physically. As a result, his game is arguably at its best ever.

How is this for a well-rounded attack? Schauffele is second on the tour in strokes gained/total, ninth off the tee, fifth in approach to the green and 17th in putting. It there is anything to improve on considerably, it’s sharpening his iron play; he ranks a surprising 124th in tour proximity to the hole at 39 feet, seven inches.

Asked where this high level of confidence and execution are coming from, Schauffele said, “It's everything. Golf, it's not just one thing. You got to be in a good head space. I got a really good team around me, fortunately. You got to do all things pretty well. I think picking up some slack in certain areas of my game that was lacking has helped me compete week-in, week-out, and also given me a little bit more confidence.”