Xander Bags Gold in Japan
Saitama, Japan – Xander Schauffele (-18) won the race to the gold medal at the 2020/2021 Olympics. The 27-year-old American is a perennial contender at the world’s best tournaments and this is his hallmark win to date. He became the second-ever gold medal winner in golf after it was introduced as an Olympic sport in 2016.
Xander was at his best at Kasumigaseki Country Club, firing rounds of 68, 63, 68, and 67 to edge silver medalist Rory Sabbatini by one stroke. The naturalized Slovakian went unconscious on Sunday, firing a 61 that included two bogeys.
The competition for bronze was almost a tournament unto itself. At the end of 72 holes of stroke play, seven players were tied at -15, two strokes behind Sabbatini (C.T. Pan, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Mito Pereira, Sebastian Munoz, Paul Casey, and Hideki Matsuyama). Only four playoff holes were needed for C.T. Pan, representing Chinese Taipei, to claim the bronze medal.
While the geographical location was very different, just about everything else about the event resembled a typical PGA Tour stop or WGC. The golf course was soft, receptive, and playable. The format was four rounds of 18-hole stroke play. Many fans are understandably clamoring for the Olympics to offer something markedly different than the usual fare.
Other notable finishes included first round leader Sepp Straka, who finished T10 at -14 along with Joaquin Niemann and Cameron Smith; Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas, the other Americans in the field, both finished T22 at -10; South Koreans Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim, who would avoid compulsory military service with a medal both finished well shy, T22 and T32, respectively.
Next week the PGA Tour heads to Memphis for the WGC FedEx-St. Jude Invitational. 48 of the world’s top 50 will tee it up, including defending champion Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau. The two top-50 qualifiers who did not accept invitations were Jon Rahm and Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Many of those players not qualified will contest the Barracuda Championship in Tahoe.
Xander Schauffele What’s In The Bag
Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond 9° (Graphite Design Tour AD BB 7 X)
Irons: Callaway Apex TCB 4-PW (True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100)
Putter: Odyssey O-Works #7 CH Red