'History' says golf will reunite - Schauffele

golf19 March 2024 20:40| © Reuters

Xander Schauffele largely stays out of the direct media spotlight, but as the highest-ranked player in this week's Valspar Championship, it was only a matter of time before he was asked about the fractured state of professional golf.

The 30-year-old takes a philosophical approach to life on and off the golf course, which he used in weighing reported offers from LIV Golf that he turned down, as well as overcoming another Sunday letdown that saw him fall one shot shy of Scottie Scheffler at The Players Championship.

Asked on Tuesday where he sees professional golf in three years, Schauffele said he's "just going to lean on the side of history."

That means bringing the stars from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf back together for more than the four majors each year.

"My guess would be that we would all be playing together again. I think that's what fans would want, I think that's what TV would want, and golf as a whole would probably be better off that way," Schauffele told reporters on Tuesday. "Just like all sports when they have been fractured, they have always come back together."

Schauffele wasn't at Monday's meeting in the Bahamas between PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and the player directors from the tour's policy board with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

He believes there are still many questions to be worked through before any future vision is "set in stone," but believes discussions are moving in the right direction.

That includes the newly-formed PGA Tour Enterprises, a for-profit entity that will receive up to $3 billion in investment. That has muddied the waters in considering how further investment from PIF, which also funds LIV, might work and look like.

"I think everyone needs to understand that we are entertainers, to an extent, and we have to be loyal to the fans and produce a good product for TV ratings and things of that nature," Schauffele said. "That's sort of -- now that we have a foot in the business department -- I think that's sort of the direction things are going.

"I think the tour's just trying to find the right way to push forward, and it's going to be impossible to keep everybody happy, but hopefully some sort of unification at the end of the day and then with that will be TV ratings. I think you can kind of put the horse in front of the carriage at that point and then sort of just chum along, versus sort of feels like we're sort of guessing a little bit on how to get it done.

"And it's understandable, because I don't think anyone has sort of the right answer to keep everyone happy."


One of the key sticking points has been the notion of how players who turned down massive offers from LIV may be compensated for that decision should players who left be allowed to return to the tour.

Schauffele relied on that philosophical approach instilled by his father, Stefan, in saying that compensation for his past decision isn't a factor for him personally.

"I think that goes into the accept boat for me, if we're going to run that sort of scheme on your question here," he said. "I have to accept sort of any decision I was going to make a long time ago regarding to what you just mentioned with money and moving and them coming back and stuff of that nature.

"I'm very content with where I sit right now and I would have chosen otherwise if I -- I don't have any regrets of what I've done or what I'm doing, so I'm sleeping just fine at night knowing where I stand."

Acceptance was a term Schauffele also used when asked how he has coped with losing to Scheffler by a single stroke on one of golf's biggest stages. The 54-hole leader, Schauffele was outscored by six shots on Sunday by the world's No. 1-ranked player.

A seven-time winner on the PGA Tour and an Olympic champion, Schauffele's critics still point out the lack of a major championship or a win at The Players. He now has double-digit runner-ups on tour, including at three of the four majors along with a T3 at the 2019 US Open.

Meanwhile, his most recent win in a stroke-play event came at the 2022 Travelers Championship.

"I was just there, again, in a good spot to win a golf tournament and didn't get it done," he said. "So, I've accepted that and I have a couple nights to sleep under my belt now and feeling better than I did a couple days ago.

"Just excited to try and win again."