Schauffele tries to end major frustration at PGA Championship

golf15 May 2024 21:00| © AFP
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Xander Schauffele © Gallo Images

Reigning Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, coming off a "buzz-saw" beating last week, tries to snap a two-year win drought and end years of major frustration at the 106th PGA Championship.

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Third-ranked Schauffele squandered the lead last Sunday and lost to Rory McIlroy at the Wells Fargo Championship, settling for his 19th top-10 finish since last winning a PGA Tour event at the 2022 Scottish Open.

"Last week was a bit of a buzz-saw," Schauffele said on Wednesday. "I felt like if someone would have told me I'd shoot 4-under at Quail Hollow on Sunday and lose – it's just a testament to how good Rory played. When someone like him is firing on all cylinders, he's a tough man to beat and he proved that on Sunday."

The 30-year-old American has become a "nearly man" as he chases a first major victory.

He was a runner-up at the 2018 British Open and 2019 Masters and has 10 other top-10 major finishes, including eighth at last month's Masters.

Schauffele, however, says the near-misses are not taking a toll on his confidence.

"You take it for granted," Schauffele said. "I'm playing really good golf. At the end of the day, when I go to sleep, I remind myself that I'm playing at a really high level. I've put myself in position.

"Seven years ago I won twice quickly, I had high expectations, then I didn't win for a year or two, then I won two or three times in a year. It's just kind of how it goes sometimes."

Schauffele also says the push on elite fields makes titles harder to capture.

"It's harder to win these tournaments when they're not diluted at all. You have all the top 50, top 100 players playing trying to win and treating it almost every week like it's a major," Schauffele said.

"It's frustrating, but at the same time, it's sort of why I love to compete. You get your blood flowing. You want to see what you've got.

"Unfortunately I haven't had the results in the end, but I've definitely had a lot of the adrenaline, the final groups, the close calls and things of that nature.

"I learned to appreciate those times in my game because when you're in 50th place playing on Sunday it just doesn't feel like it's for much."

A boost for Schauffele's resiliency came from defending champion Brooks Koepka, a five-time major winner who said executing down the stretch can be learned.

"You're always adapting to your surroundings, so the more times you put yourself in that position, it's easier to learn from," Koepka said.

"But you really have to dive in deep to the issue and really kind of look yourself in the mirror as to why, if you can't cross that line, why can't you or when you did, what was your thought process."