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How Xander Schauffele’s Family and Friends Reacted to His PGA Championship Victory

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Maya Schauffele apologized once, then twice.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I faint.”

Her emotions ran high after watching her husband, Xander Schauffele, win his first major professional golf championship in 29 tries, making a 6-foot birdie at the 18th hole for a 21-under-par victory at the 106th PGA . Championship.

As she stood in front of the Valhalla Golf Club scoring tent, her eyes were hidden by dark sunglasses. And yet, it was obvious that tears were flowing. The quiver in his voice was telling.

“It means everything,” she said. “Everything he worked hard for, it just shows you will see results if you work.” He deserves it more than anything. Why am I saying that ? I saw the dedication, the work he puts in, the hours. Even during off weeks, there is never a off week; they train constantly. The work never stops.

The victory came exactly a week after Schauffele squandered a one-shot lead and lost by five at the Wells Fargo Championship. It was the sixth time in his career that he had failed after entering the final round with the lead or part of it, and some openly questioned whether he had what it took to finish. He was already known as the best player in the world to never win a major tournament, and the louder those voices became this week, the more they motivated the laid-back but ultra-competitive Schauffele.

Maya could feel it, even if those exact words were never spoken.

“I’m sure the chip that was on his shoulder is gone, oh, my God,” she said, pausing momentarily before continuing. “I’m really, really emotional. I think it means to him that this is exactly what he is supposed to do: play golf at this level. He does what he loves.

She paused again.

“I’m sorry, I’m passing out right now.”

Xander Schauffele celebrates with his longtime caddy Austin Kaiser after winning the PGA Championship. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

She stood alongside other members of the Schauffele family and her entourage, and if one thing stood out more than anything else, it was that Schauffle’s journey is not her own. He also belongs to everyone around him, including Maya, his rock; Stefan Schauffele, his father; Austin Kaiser, his younger brother and close friend; Chris Como and Derek Uyeda, his coaches; Ross Chouler, his agent; Nico Schauffele, his older brother and road manager; and Ronna Semonian and Marnus Marais, his physiotherapists and trainers.

“I’m a big believer in having the right foundation, the right people around you, having a good team around you,” Schauffele said. “I believe that if you work hard and let yourself do what you think you can do, you will get fruits of your labor.”

Others might have doubted him, but never those around him. Even amid the disappointment of the previous week, when Rory McIlroy passed Schauffele on the back nine despite Schauffele leading after each of the first three rounds, Schauffele shook Kaiser’s hand on the 18th green at Quail Hollow and said, “We’re having one soon, kid.

There was substance not only in the words but also in their relationship.

“I said, ‘I love you, man,'” Kaiser recalled, sweat still forming on his face as he stood in front of the scorer’s tent, Schaufelle’s golf bag draped over his shoulder. . “We’ve been through it all. We’ve been through a lot. I’m proud of him.”

There has always been respect for Schauffele’s game, but there always seems to be a “yeah, but” this week. For example:

• He has 12 top 10s in 28 major appearances before this week. Yes, but no victories.

• He has seven top-10 finishes in 13 PGA Tour events this season. Yes, but no victories.

• He played in eight PGA Championships. Yes, but he never finished in the top five.

And yet any questions about his mental toughness were answered during back-to-back holes on Sunday’s back nine, when, after hitting his tee shot into the right bunker on the par-5 10th, he opted to use a wood. course despite its 284 meters and hitting the sand. He was leading by a stretch at that point and could have played it safe, but no.

The ball landed in the rough and prevented him from getting any spin on his ensuing wedge shot, which sailed past the hole and onto the fringe, resulting in a two-putt bogey that cost him the lead .

While almost everyone looked back to the previous weekend and wondered if his excessive aggression could be the start of another downfall, Schauffele refused to back down. He walked to the tee box at No. 11 and chased the flag, placing the ball 8 feet from the hole to set up a birdie and give him some of the lead back.

It was a continuation of the mental toughness he showed Saturday, when he followed up a double at No. 15 with back-to-back birdies. If there was one thing he wasn’t going to do this week, it was play with fear. He committed to taking the shot he chose, a lesson that was reinforced to him the previous week.

“Courage,” Kaiser said. “It’s who he is as a person.”

The victory was delicious for several reasons, perhaps because it confirmed that he had made the right choice several months ago in bringing in Como to replace his father as coach. Stefan is the one who introduced him to the game, the one who trained him for so long; he was also the first to support him when he proposed the change.

“I actually was able to call him while I was standing, waiting to walk onto the 18th green (for the trophy presentation),” Schauffele said. “He was a mess. He was crying on the phone. This made me quite emotional. I told him I had to hang up because I had to get off. I couldn’t present myself as I was. … My father, his goal – he was my swing coach and my mentor my whole life, and his goal was really, as any good father would want, to prepare your child for a successful future. He really meant it. He asked me, how much will I help you this week? He sent me positive text messages throughout the week, all week, even last week too.

No surprise there. Alex’s journey is, and always has been, a family affair.

(Top photo of Xander and Maya Schauffele: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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