MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Xander Schauffele had the presence of mind to bring his Olympic gold medal to Memphis but not enough courage to wear it around his neck when he emerged from a two-day blur to resume life on the PGA tour after winning the men’s Olympic tournament on Sunday.
Schauffele arrived at TPC Southwind on Tuesday morning, about 48 hours after shooting a ’67 final round to claim a 1-stroke victory over Rory Sabbatini in preparation for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Upon request, he pulled the gold medal out of his pocket.
“My father [Stefan] I slept with it the first night, so I didn’t even have it with me the day I won it, “Schauffele said.” He wanted to take it to San Diego, he would take it home and his Friends walking around.
“But I told him I did a little media work and I’m sure everyone wanted to see the gold medal here. My moment in the sun, so to speak.”
Schauffele tried to cram as much as possible before leaving Japan, having a celebratory drink at the clubhouse, retiring to a Tokyo hotel to see his Japanese grandparents enjoy the win as best they could before he did on Monday morning from Japan set out on a trip to Memphis.
And, he said, was considering skipping the Olympics.
“To be honest, there was a part of me that was thinking about not going,” he said. “I was joking with my wife about it when I called her. She said, can you imagine that a little piece of you almost didn’t show up in Tokyo? We laughed nicely about it.
“With everything out there playing with COVID and everything, it was obviously weird and difficult for everyone. I made up my mind not to stay in that [Olympic] Village which is about an hour and 20 minutes away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit the village either, which is a bit puzzled.
“But when I got into that, I corrected my attitude towards the whole thing and really just focused on this four-day golf tournament. When I was able to take the podium, I really understood and realized how special it is to be there being.” on the podium, of course, win every medal. The flag is hoisted, the national anthem played, it was really something spectacular and obviously nothing like it. “
He arrived here on Monday morning and is now trying to adjust.
“I think the biggest thing for me is being able to focus on the task at hand this week,” he said. “What was done last week is done and we’re going to talk a bit more about it, but other than that, I kind of have to get back to the time zone, really start to focus more, latch back on and try” Fortunately, I’m not getting to a new facility that I’ve played a couple of times and had minimal success on, but I think I’m obviously in good shape when I go overseas. I’m looking forward to the week. “
Schauffele, 27, hadn’t won since winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions in 2019, a span of more than two and a half years that saw numerous close calls, as evidenced by his fourth place in the world.
He ranks 10th on the FedEx Cup points this week, just two weeks before the FedEx Cup playoffs. He’s also in the sixth and final automatic qualifying position for the Ryder Cup, though he would almost certainly get an election from Captain Steve Stricker if he were out.
“I think playing really well and of course having a gold medal just feeds my energy,” he said. “I’m very excited to be coming back home to the West Coast but you want to win every week and now that I finally have that taste of winning and the ability to win in the first place, I think we all. That’s the one Rush we’re really following and it feels good and it’s really worth going through and I’m ready to go back to work. “