Q&A: Xander Schauffele discusses winning, staying focused and more
The star golfer talks to Hyland about the “momentary relief” that comes with victory.
Xander Schauffele’s first individual win on the PGA Tour since 2019 occurred as he and his wife, Maya, were getting set to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
The Hyland brand ambassador’s two-shot victory in the Travelers Championship on June 26, 2022, also marked the first time he won a PGA tournament after holding the lead entering the final round.
Two weeks later, Xander did it again, claiming the Scottish Open by one shot for his second consecutive PGA Tour win — and third since the Zurich Classic in late April. Schauffele, who had a two-stroke advantage heading into the final round in Scotland, clinched his seventh career PGA title with clutch birdies on the 14th and 16th holes, followed by a crucial par on No. 17.
Xander’s hot streak also includes a victory in the two-day J.P. McManus Pro-Am in Ireland. Schauffele kicked off the July 4–5 event with some fireworks of his own — setting the course record with a first-round 64.
The Scottish Open win vaulted Xander to fifth in the world golf rankings and third in the FedEx Cup standings. (How’s that for momentum heading into the final major championship of the year?)
In one of the previous instances in which Schauffele had a 54-hole lead — the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland — he wound up finishing in a second-place tie. That’s one of four top-three finishes, including a pair of runner-up showings, for Xander in major championships.
In mid-July, Xander has the chance to claim his first win in a major tournament. The latest attempt will be at another Scottish course — the historic Old Course at St. Andrews. Xander enters the British Open as the first player riding a two-tournament winning streak since Dustin Johnson in 2016.
Following his win in the Travelers Championship, our brand ambassador discussed his excellent finish in Connecticut (capped by a birdie on the final hole), how he focuses on the task at hand in big moments, celebrating with his team, the “momentary relief” of winning and the importance of breaking through in a major tournament.
(You might especially enjoy the part about Maya, who, like many of us, was pretty amped up during the waning moments of the Travelers Championship.)
Winning the Travelers Championship
Question: You shoot back-to-back 63s, take a five-shot lead and are in first place for almost three full rounds. Then you get caught by Sahith Theegala, and you’re down one. What’s that like? How do you stay calm in that moment?
Xander: You have to remind yourself about the big picture. Knowing that I can only control what I can control. It felt like I did a pretty good job of locking into that mentality, especially on those last two holes.
Q: Is it especially gratifying when you deliver like that?
Xander: What happened with Sahith (a double bogey on the 18th hole) was unfortunate. But it is part of the competition, and in order to win, you need things to go your way. I’m going to take whatever I can take. It would’ve been cooler if it was more wire-to-wire, but I didn’t feel like I was giving the tournament away by any means coming down the stretch there. Sahith was just playing unreal golf. With that hiccup there, I was able to take advantage by playing a really steady 18th hole.
But yeah, this one is very satisfying, considering it has been some time on the PGA Tour. I spoke a lot about the Olympics and the gold medal there being sort of the big monkey-off-my-back moment, and then I used a lot of that experience last week in Connecticut.
Q: You had the Zurich Classic win with Patrick Cantlay in April. You had been in the top 20 in every tournament after that. You’ve been playing well. Does that give you confidence that eventually you’ll get that big win?
Xander: You just never know when it’s going to happen. It’s as simple as that.
There are just so many variables in golf. Just because you’re playing well doesn’t necessarily translate to you winning. I think over time I became a little bit more uneasy and a little more impatient without really even realizing it. I felt like I was very self-aware in Connecticut starting the week.
I had a good chat with my dad (Stefan, also his swing coach) to talk about being less — he calls it fiddling or tinkering — but just doing less of that on course and focusing more on process with Austin (Kaiser, his caddie) and making sure we’re picking the right club and hitting the right number and getting all the variables that we can think of correct.
Staying in the moment
Q: You talked about focusing on the task at hand after the win. I’m sure that’s easier said than done. In those moments, are there specific things that seem to work for you, keep you on track and help you not worry about what everyone else is doing?
Xander: It’s not like I’ve done it very often, but I just told myself, if I could just focus as hard as I humanly can, it’s going to be better than me trying to act like nothing is happening, if that makes sense. I had that conversation with myself starting on 13. From 13 on, I pretty much saw everything (Theegala) was doing in front of me. I wanted that to register, but not affect what I was doing. I figured if I could focus harder, be aware that I’m going to try to focus harder on what I’m trying to do, while still taking in information that’s happening in front of me, that’ll put me in the best place that I can be to win.
Taking time to celebrate
Q: And you had some pretty good timing: It’s your first wedding anniversary and you bring home the winner’s check.
Xander: It was nice. My wife didn’t really watch much golf prior to us being together. She told me she was screaming at the TV. She’s not the kind of person to do that, so I knew that she was pretty fired up herself.
Q: How did you celebrate? Was it a team celebration?
Xander: My dad was at home (in San Diego). He celebrated with my mom and some of their friends. I think they opened up a nice bottle of wine. Knowing my surrounding team, sponsors and all, I’m sure everyone opened up a nice bottle of wine for me, while I was trying to get home to my wife.
It’s kind of nice as an individual playing a sport to get that win, feel very satisfied, know that you’re doing the right thing and then get back to work right away.
— Xander Schauffele
Feeling ‘momentary relief’
Q: What’s the best part of winning?
Xander: As a pro golfer, I think it’s momentary relief. I know that sounds really weird. It’s rare to feel very satisfied. Maybe instead of relief, it’s satisfaction. I feel satisfied for a day or two, vs. let’s say I finish fifth or seventh or whatever it is and play really well. I’d want to go back to the chopping block immediately. So it’s kind of nice as an individual playing a sport to get that win, feel very satisfied, know that you’re doing the right thing and then get back to work right away. It’s a quick break for you mentally, knowing you’re doing the right thing.
Coming soon: The British Open
Q: The British Open is coming up. You’ve had some really good finishes in majors. You have the Olympic gold, the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup wins. Is a major championship win the only thing you feel like you’re missing?
Xander: I will take as many wins anywhere. I’m not one to pick and choose, to be completely honest. Obviously, yeah, it’s the thing that’s the most sought after in our sport. It’s the thing that’s the most talked about. It’s definitely something that I think about — I wouldn’t say every day, but when I do practice or need that extra kick in the butt for motivation, I do draw on those moments and think about how badly I want to win one of those.
Q: And you’re going into it with some pretty good momentum. You’ve played very well the last few months.
Xander: The style of golf is very different. It’s definitely not a bad thing to win a couple weeks prior to a major, just because you know you’re playing good golf. But for the most part, going over to Scotland, with the weather … It was 90 degrees in Connecticut — balmy for the most part, not too much wind. Hopefully the weather (in Scotland) will be nice, but historically there is always a good and a bad wave. There’s certain weather you have to fight off during the week. There are different golf shots you have to hit in different windows. It’s not going to be the same golf whatsoever that I played in Connecticut, but I can take over a good attitude, knowing that I’m playing pretty solid golf and I should be able to accomplish anything.
Making it all work
Q: How do you manage all the obligations that go along with what you do? How do you balance all the work on the course with everything you need to do off the course?
Xander: My wife helps me a lot. I have my two dogs. Having a really solid foundation and good people around you. It even peels back to the sponsors you align yourself with. Just making sure that I’m on the same page as everyone that I work with.
I never really go any day where I do something that I don’t want to do. I think my team has helped me set that up in a really nice fashion. There are some days where I love my job and it doesn’t feel like work, as if you were working in an office. But there are days when you’re out here working and it does feel more like a job. I credit my team a lot for making sure I have a pretty level head on my shoulders.