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A family’s Olympic dreams fulfilled in Xander Schauffele’s win

By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM

KAWAGOE, Japan – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the athletes’ families to watch these Olympics from afar. They’ve shared victory through a screen, their tears separated by thousands of miles.

Not the Schauffeles. Xander and Stefan Schauffele were able to embrace as Xander walked off the 18th green, moments after holing a 4-foot par putt to seal a one-shot victory in the Olympic men’s golf competition.

Xander’s gold-medal performance was his first victory in 2 1/2 years, and he did it after taking a one-shot lead over the host nation’s favorite son, Hideki Matsuyama, into the final round.

His win also fulfilled a family’s athletic dream that was deferred by a drunk driver,and Xander did it in the country that his mother called home as a child.

As the only swing coach Xander has ever known, Stefan was able to attend these Olympics. He often walks several hundred yards ahead of his son, using a monocle to get a closer view of the swing that he helped mold. Stefan is not an anxious observer, even as his son clung to a one-shot lead on the final hole. The imposing figure nicknamed Ogre couldn’t hold back the tears after Xander’s win was complete, however.

“I did think of him as soon as I made the putt,” Xander said. “I knew he was going to be there crying.”

The Schauffeles’ story is truly an American tale. Xander is the son of a French-German father and a mother who was born in Chinese Taipei before being raised in Japan. Xander’s maternal grandparents live in Tokyo.

Ping Yi and Stefan Schauffele met at San Diego’s International University. She didn’t speak English. He didn’t speak Japanese.

They married three months after their first meeting.

Stefan had moved to the United States after his dreams of being an Olympic decathlete ended with that car accident in 1986.

The Schauffeles’ sporting success extends even farther, however. Xander’s great-grandfather, Richard Schauffele, was one of Germany’s top discus and javelin throwers, but a shoulder injury kept him out of the 1936 Olympics.

Xander didn’t inherit the height of his father’s side, even though childhood measurements predicted he would grow to 6-foot-5. “Thank goodness my wife’s genes kicked in,” Stefan said.

But Stefan made sure to pass along the mental toughness he learned from decathlon. Stefan taught his son breathing and concentration techniques he learned during his own athletic career. He was strict, but a deep bond was still created between father and son.

“He put all his eggs in one basket for quite some time … to compete as a decathlete in the Olympics,” Xander said. “Life came at him fast, it was swiped away from him, but he saw potential in me … and so he put all his eggs in my basket.

“For this to come full circle, … I just feel very fortunate and really happy to share this with him.”

Xander started playing golf at age 9, when he was strong enough to carry his bag for 18 holes. He wasn’t allowed to use tees in those early junior tournaments on par-3 courses. Stefan knew that the temporary disadvantage would pay off later.

“That’s been engraved in him forever, to be tough,” said his caddie and former college teammate, Austin Kaiser. “His attitude is huge. … He doesn’t want it to be sugar-coated.”

Xander needed that fortitude on the final four holes at Kasumigaseki Country Club. His lead was gone after a bogey on the reachable par-5 14th, where he pushed his drive into an unplayable lie. Schauffele had to make a 5-foot putt for bogey. He parred the next two holes before making an 8-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 17th.

Holding a one-shot lead, he drove into the trees right of the 18th fairway. After laying up on the long par-4, Xander hit his 90-yard wedge shot to 5 feet. He sank the putt to win the gold medal.

Xander adds the Olympics to his four PGA TOUR titles. The most recent of his wins, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, came in January 2019, however. He’s held the 54-hole lead four times in his TOUR career but never won after entering the final round with the lead.

“I needed to get over the hump,” Xander said. “I needed to … win while having a lead.”

While many golfers reveled in the Olympic experience, enduring a longer commute in exchange for the opportunity to hang out with their fellow Olympians, the Schauffeles stayed separate from Team USA in a hotel closer to the course. There was still one logistical snag – a lightning strike on the eve of the first round knocked out power, cutting the air conditioning – but Stefan said the decision was key to Xander’s success. It also illustrates the family’s single-mindedness.

“I had to fight to get a hotel near (the course),” Stefan said. “That gave him an enormous comfort level.”

So did being in Tokyo, a city he’s visited several times to see his grandparents. The Schauffeles’ international heritage extends past this year’s Games, as well.

“The next Olympics are in Paris,” Stefan said with a wink, “and I have family there, too.”

Jason and Liz Caron Are the Dynamic Duo Running Mill River Club

By PGA

What do you get when you combine a former PGA Tour player with a former LPGA Tour player? Probably the one couple you wouldn’t want to meet on the tee at you next 9 & Dine!
No really, Team of 20 member Jason Caron and his wife Liz are the dynamic duo who manage the golf operation at the Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, NY. Together they take their tournament experiences and give their membership a wonderful golf program.
Jason played in his second straight PGA Championship last week at TPC Harding Park. He joined PGA Professional Keith Stewart on Fox Sports to discuss his major championship week and his life as a day-to-day PGA Head Professional. Together with his wife they have created a wonderful work-life balance that supports their careers as well as their family. With two beautiful girls and a successful golf operation, you may wonder where they both get the time to compete in multiple majors.
Take a couple of minutes and listen to this entertaining interview. Keith gets all the goods from this amazing PGA Professional, father, and world-class player.

Callaway Golf Donates Over $100,000 to MedShare for their COVID-19 Relief Efforts

By Callaway Golf Company

 

MedShare Provides PPE and Other Necessary Medical Supplies To Frontline Healthcare Workers And Patients Battling COVID-19 CARLSBAD, Calif., PRNewswire/ — Callaway Golf Company (NYSE: ELY), an industry leader in golf equipment performance and innovation, recently announced that they have made a donation of over $100,000 to MedShare for their COVID-19 response work. MedShare is a 501 c(3) humanitarian aid organization that directly delivers surplus medical supplies and equipment to communities around the world. The organization is providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessary medical supplies to healthcare workers and patients battling COVID-19. Since the U.S. became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, MedShare has donated more than 1.3 million units of PPE to over 140 hospitals, community clinics and other nonprofit organizations in the U.S. “We appreciate Callaway Golf’s generous support of our COVID-19 reliefefforts,”saidCharlesRedding, CEO and president of MedShare. “The impact of COVID-19 on our communities and our health care professionals has been significant. This donation will further enhance our efforts to get personal protective equipment and other critical supplies to the health care professionals who need it the most.” “We are proud to support MedShare and their ongoing relief efforts with this donation,” said Callaway Golf President and CEO, Chip Brewer. “We appreciate the incredible work that their organization is doing, and we want to thank all of the healthcare professionals who are working bravely, tirelessly and selflessly to help keep us safe.”

Justin Riegel, PGA Director of Golf at Philmont C.C., Passes Away in Tragic Accident

By PGA

 

Everyone at the PGA of America was incredibly saddened to learn of the tragic passing of PGA Professional Justin Riegel.
Riegel passed away Wednesday afternoon in a tragic accident at Philmont Country Club in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania.

We ask that you consider donating to assist his family during this difficult time. Learn more here.

https://www.facebook.com/PGAREACHPhiladelphia/photos/a.2242840905961651/2683996291846108/?type=3

In a Virus-Shortened Season, No One Loses a PGA Tour Card

By Doug Ferguson, AP Golf Writer

 

A shorter season brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic means no one will lose a PGA Tour card this year and the Korn Ferry Tour players will have to wait a year before fully joining the big leagues.
A memo sent to players Thursday to outline the changes was another step in the tour trying to figure out what’s equitable in a season that will be without 13 previously scheduled events.
The tour said players exempt for this season will keep the same status for the 2020-21 season that is scheduled to start in September unless they earn a higher ranking after this shortened season.
That could help someone like Harris English, who started the season with conditional status from finishing between Nos. 126 and 150 the previous season. He has posted five top 10s and is No. 24 in the FedEx Cup, making his a lock to have a full card for next season.
As for the developmental Korn Ferry Tour, no one will graduate to the PGA Tour after the season. The tour was working on rewarding the top 10 players, such as allowing them in opposite-field field events for next season.
All of this is contingent on golf resuming June 11-14 at Colonial, the restart of a season that would include only one major championship. The PGA Championship is tentatively set for Aug. 9-12 in San Francisco. The U.S. Open was pushed back to September, the Masters was moved to November and the British Open was canceled.
That means six majors will be played next season.
This season still offers a $15 million prize to the winner of the FedEx Cup. The two playoff events outside Boston and Chicago would award triple points instead of quadruple points.
In other changes:
  • The field for the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua will include everyone who wins a PGA Tour event in 2020, along with players who reach the Tour Championship. That means whoever finished in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup gets into at least three majors in 2021, along with a trip to Maui.
  • The tournament in the Dominican Republic originally was canceled and then moved to September, the same week as the Ryder Cup. Because it is not opposite a World Golf Championship, the winner will receive full FedEx Cup points and a trip to the 2021 Masters.
  • For the rest of this season, Monday qualifiers that can be held will only provide two spots instead of four.

Daly flashes ’95 form, shoots 69 at Old Course

It was looking a lot like 1995 on Thursday at the Old Course – at least for a few hours.

John Daly, who won the ’95 Open Championship at St. Andrews, got off to a brilliant start in Round 1 of The Senior Open. After a bogey at the second, he made birdie at the par-4 third and then made eagle-3 at the par-5 fifth.

He continued that run with birdies on Nos. 6 and 7, and then added another at the par-3 11th.

Daly was at 5 under par and challenging for the lead. But the inward nine proved more difficult as players turned into a stiff wind.

Daly bogeyed the 12th and 15th holes and parred in for a 3-under 69. He finished the day four shots off the lead, held by Kirk Triplett.

Daly has struggled with his right knee since a freak accident in April, when a car crashed into his RV in a parking lot during Masters week. He did not compete in the U.S. Senior Open when the USGA denied him the use of a cart. He also withdrew prior to the start of last week’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Fransson Named to C-USA All-Freshman

Old Dominion men’s golfer Gustav Fransson has been named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team, the league office announced on Wednesday.

Fransson capped off a stellar freshman campaign with a fourth-place finish at the C-USA Championship en route to All-Tournament Team honors. 

The Sweden native led ODU in scoring average in 2017-18 with a stroke average of 73.8. Including the conference tournament, Fransson was the top-placing Monarch at each of the final two events, as he tied for 11th at the ECU Intercollegiate.

Fransson is the first-ver ODU men’s golfer to be named to the All-Freshman Team.

2017-18 Conference USA Men’s Golf Awards

Golfer Of The Year: Ian Snyman, North Texas

Freshman Of The Year: Tyler Johnson, Middle Tennessee

Coach Of The Year: Brennan Webb, Middle Tennessee

First Team

Ian Snyman, North Texas

Mitchell Meissner, Rice

R.J. Keur, UAB

Conor Purcell, Charlotte

Zander Lozano, UTSA

Second Team

Alex Weiss, Marshall

Tyler Johnson, Middle Tennessee 

Mario Carmona, Rice

Charles Corner, UTEP

Billy Tom Sargent, WKU

All-Freshman Team

Tyler Johnson, Middle Tennessee

Gustav Fransson, Old Dominion

Michael Rome, UTSA

Viktor Forslund, North Texas

Vitek Novak, North Texas

The 22 Times Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods Played in The Same Major

You may not realize this, but the two greatest major champions in golf history — Jack Nicklaus with 18 and Tiger Woods with 14 — actually crossed paths in the majors on 22 occasions.

In a recent interview with Cigar Aficionado, which you can watch here, Michael Jordan — arguably the greatest basketball player in history — was asked who he believed to be the best golfer of all time.

It was no surprise that His Airness, who also happens to be a golf aficionado, wasn’t falling into that trap.

“They’re both great and I would never say one is greater than the other,” Jordan said.

Jordan also said, “Jack and Tiger never played against each other. They never played in the same tournament. They never played with the same equipment. They never played with the same length of golf course. I never played against Wilt Chamberlain. I never played against Jerry West. To now say that one is greater than the other is being a little bit unfair.”

Not all of that is entirely true, though we do understand Jordan’s point. Woods and Nicklaus actually played in many of the same events early in Tiger’s career, but at that point, the Golden Bear was well past his prime while Tiger was coming into his own.

Since the talk is always about majors when it comes to Nicklaus and Woods, we decided to breakdown the 22 occasions in which the two played in the same major.

A couple of fun stats that came out of this:

  Nicklaus got the better of Woods on five of the 22 occasions, most notably his T6 to Tiger’s T8 in the 1998 Masters when Nicklaus was 58 years old.

   In four of the five majors where Nicklaus bettered Woods, Woods was still an amateur.

   Perhaps most remarkably of all, in the 22 majors where Woods and Nicklaus were both in the field, Woods collected seven of his 14 majors and finished in the top 10 nine times.

Dustin Johnson reclaims spot as World No. 1

Dustin Johnson emphatically reclaimed the No. 1 ranking Sunday, holing out for eagle from 170 yards on the final hole for a six-stroke victory in the St. Jude Classic.

“What a cool way to end the day,” Johnson said.

Johnson shot a 4-under 66 for his second PGA Tour victory this year and 18th of his career to take back the No. 1 ranking he held for 64 straight weeks before dropping down a month ago. He won the event for the second time, finishing with the eagle, three birdies and a bogey for a 19-under 261 total.

Andrew Putnam started the final round with a share of the lead for the first time in his career. He shot 72 and finished at 13 under.

Preparing for the U.S. Open, Johnson took the lead to himself with a par on No. 1, while Putnam double-bogeyed, and cruised to the $1.18 million winner’s check. Johnson turned in the lowest score under par by a winner here since David Toms won at 20 under in 2003, and that was before the course was redesigned with par dropped from 71 to 70 after the 2004 tournament.

Johnson, who won the U.S. Open in 2016, heads to Shinnecock Hills after stringing together four straight rounds in the 60s. He went 67, 63 and 65 before wrapping up a final round that felt almost like a practice round with the only question remaining how low Johnson would go.

At least until his dramatic walk-off eagle. Johnson was in the intermediate rough to the right of the fairway, and the ball bounced twice before rolling into the cup to bring fans to their feet.

J.B. Holmes (67) was at 9 under. Stewart Cink (72) and Richy Werenski (71) tied at 8 under. Brandt Snedeker (70) and Retief Goosen (66) tied four others at 7 under.

Phil Mickelson had a 65 and was at 6 under.

Putnam, a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour, had only one bogey through his first three rounds. He pushed his opening tee shot into the right rough and his approach in the rough left of the green. He wound up three-putting for double bogey. Johnson rolled in a 4-footer for par and a two-stroke lead at 15 under on a sizzling day with the temperature feeling like 99.

Johnson worked on keeping the ball in the fairway, hitting 3-wood off the tee on the first of the course’s two par 5s. Even with the 3-wood, Johnson had the second-longest drive of the day, hitting 333 yards on the 554-yard hole.

Even when Johnson three-putt No. 5 to drop to 15 under, Putnam also bogeyed protecting Johnson’s lead at three strokes. Putnam pulled within two strokes with a birdie on No. 7, rolling a putt 11 feet after Johnson parred the hole.

Johnson hit an iron 307 yards off the tee at No. 10. After hitting iron off the tee at No. 12 and going left of the cart path, Johnson saved par with a 16-foot putt to protect his two-stroke lead. Then Johnson hit a drive 359 yards on the par-4 No. 13, leaving him 95 yards to the pin. Johnson then hit his approach to 3 feet for his second birdie to go 16 under.

He previewed his dramatic finish on the par-5 16th. Johnson’s tee shot found the trees right of the fairway, and he threaded a shot through a couple trees to just off the green. He chipped to 5 feet and birdied for a four-stroke lead.

Tiger Woods happy with where game is despite Sunday struggles

Tiger Woods made it interesting again, but slipped from contention on the last day of a tournament.

Despite being done in by some poor putting at the Memorial, he believes there still was valuable progress.

“I keep getting a little better,” the 42-year-old Woods said after shooting an even-par 72 on Sunday at Muirfield Village. “Week in, week out, I keep getting just a little bit more fine-tuned. For instance this week, just to be able to make the slight adaptations after the first nine holes and be able to flip it around and shoot a respectable number.”

Woods started the final round five shots off the lead, the third time this year he has been within five to start the last day and couldn’t turn it into a win. Bryson DeChambeau won the event in a playoff.

Playing in the Memorial for the first time in three years, Woods birdied two of the first five holes Sunday before hitting from a fairway bunker on No. 6 to the rough in the back of the green. Still, he managed par.

He hit his approach over the green on No. 7 and settled for par again. He couldn’t make up any ground on the par-3 No. 8, either, leaving his second shot just short of the hole.

Missing a 3-foot par putt on No. 10 was a killer. He made a slick birdie on the par-5 No. 11, but missed a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 12, then hit his tee shot out of bounds on the 13th and finished with a bogey.

He bogeyed the par-3 No. 16 when he missed another short putt, an unfortunate trend for Woods in a week when he was hitting the ball well off the tee.

He now turns his attention to the U.S. Open in two weeks.

“I just need to hit better putts,” he said. “This week I didn’t really have, didn’t feel comfortable with my lines, and my feel was a little bit off. Consequently, I missed a bunch of putts. But I hit it really good this week, so that’s a positive going into Shinnecock, where ball striking is going to be a must.”

Moving up and then falling back has become a trend for Woods in his comeback bid.

He was one shot behind going into the final round at the Valspar Championship in March and finished tied for second, a shot behind winner Paul Casey. He was five back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the next week, but couldn’t do better than a tie for fifth, eight shots behind winner Rory McIlroy.

He knows he has to improve but is happy with his game overall, especially because before back surgery in April he didn’t know if he would ever walk again, let alone play competitive golf.

“Overall, if I just keep building on this, with how I’m hitting it right now, I’m in good shape for two weeks from now,” he said.

His participation dialed up the energy level here all week, with thousands following him on the course and roaring their approval with every good shot. The crowds were supportive and respectful all week, he said, and he tried to just appreciate being here again.

“It’s incredible to be able to play golf again at this level,” he said. “Not to have any worries about being able to walk again, like I was. I was struggling there for a while, and now I’m on the other end of the spectrum.”

DeChambeau chuckled when asked whether he was hoping Woods would make a run Sunday so they could duel it out. He answered with a firm “no.”

“To be able to have this type of caliber (of players) all chasing is kind of special,” he said. “I knew I had to go out there and play well. I couldn’t make many mistakes.”