GOLF

Why Xander Schauffele didn’t close the door to jump at LIV Golf

ADVERTISEMENT

CROMWELL, Conn. – Xander Schauffele knows the rumors swirled like the majestic approach shots he delivered to the 18 greens of the TPC River Highlands in regulation Thursday at the Travelers Championship.

Schauffele – 28, ranked 15th in the world, a five-time PGA Tour winner who has finished in the top seven of eight major championships since 2017 – has been a prime target for the Greg Norman-led LIV Golf Tour.

ADVERTISEMENT

He ticks all the boxes for LIV Golf: young, already accomplished as an Olympic gold medalist and in his prime.

Rumor on the street among some players and caddies is that Schauffele will eventually follow Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, three other players at the peak of their careers who have made the jump to the Saudi-backed tour that is hair-raising. feathers of the PGA Tour establishment.

Schauele has been in a lot of trouble lately.

You would never know by the 63 of 7 under par he posted in the first round for the Travelers, leaving him a shot behind Rory McIlroy and JT Poston.

It was, indeed, a spectacular start for Schauffele. But questions persist about where he goes from here. Not the next three days at the Voyageurs, but after that. To LIV or not to LIV?

Xander Schauele hits a tee shot on the 12th hole in the first round of the Travelers Championship.
Xander Schauele hits a tee shot on the 12th hole in the first round of the Travelers Championship.
Getty Images

“I’m very comfortable with my current position…on the PGA Tour,” Schauffele told The Post after his tour in a wide-ranging and transparent interview. “You have to kind of speak generally, obviously, so you don’t get in trouble. [later].”

Translation: See Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, who all said “no” in public to the Saudis before they finally gave in to their respective awards and said “yes” – gestures that sabotaged their credibility.

Schauele hasn’t closed the door on LIV Golf, and he’s not afraid to let it be known.

“I was in touch with them, but honestly it’s been a long time,” Schauffele said. “At first I was in contact with them, but recently I haven’t.”

Schauffele conceded “you struggle with yourself” over whether to stick with the status quo or go for the money. Phil Mickelson received $200 million to join, Johnson $125 million and DeChambeau $100 million.

“My heart is telling me to stay here, and it’s telling me to make this tour the best it can be,” Schauffele said. “Obviously, I can’t do that individually. I need help from other players, and I need help from the commissioner, Jay [Monahan]and all the other staff to believe that this tour is going to be the best and they have to keep it the best. ”

Xander Schauele
Xander Schauele
Getty Images

Schauffele praised Monahan for his Tuesday announcement of increased tournament prize money and a condensed schedule, items that cater to the top players on the tour, saying the announcement “could be helpful in keeping the guys on this tour. .

“But it can’t stop there,” he added. “You have to keep pushing.”

Schauffele then boldly went to a place where no other player had gone. He called on the four major championships to follow Monahan’s lead in increasing purses.

“The majors have never revealed their finances,” he said. “If the Memorial, Genesis and Arnold Palmer can go from $12 million to $20 million [purses]so I know these majors can go higher. ”

Schauffele said he “believes everyone has a number” that would draw them to LIV Golf, but he said he doesn’t know what his is.

“I’m 28 and I love to play golf, and the safest thing is obviously to stay on this tour and make it better,” he said. “If I were to receive a ridiculous offer from the other side, it would probably make me think. But at the same time, I really have to think about why I like being here and why I’m motivated to train and improve. .

He said he spent a lot of time discussing with his “team” and his wife, Maya, whether to stay or go.

“I often asked him, ‘Do you think I like playing for money?’ said Schauele. “I don’t mind making money, but my real love is for the game. And that puts me in a tough spot.”

Part of the tug to stay on the PGA Tour is this: For the at least foreseeable future, LIV Golf cannot create the electricity the game delivered to the Country Club on Sunday in the final round of the US Open.

“It’s really a matter of tradition,” Schauffele said. “The majors aren’t even part of the PGA Tour, but I feel like they’re parallel. It comes down to how traditional you are versus how progressive do you want to be?

“The PGA Tour kind of got caught up in being very traditional, and they’ve been more progressive, trying to change and improve. They say the other tour isn’t a threat, but why else would they dance- they so fast to make moves?

“I’m not opposed to them becoming a bit more proactive than reactive.”

ADVERTISEMENT