Schauf­fele moves into spot­light at Bri­tish Open

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Golf - BY STEVE DOU­GLAS As­so­ci­ated Press

Xan­der Schauf­fele has en­joyed go­ing un­der the radar as the least-her­alded mem­ber of Amer­i­can golf’s high-school class of 2011.

That might not last much longer.

Come Sun­day even­ing, Schauf­fele might be leav­ing Carnoustie with the claret jug.

The chilled-out 24-yearold golfer with the hardto-pro­nounce name – and a con­vo­luted fam­ily history – wound up in the last pair­ing on the fi­nal day of the Bri­tish Open af­ter up­stag­ing play­ing part­ner Rory McIl­roy in shoot­ing a 4-un­der 67 on Satur­day.

He’ll play on Sun­day with Jor­dan Spi­eth, the most fa­mous grad­u­ate from ‘11 and a guy look­ing to go back-to-back at the world’s old­est ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

All the at­ten­tion will be on Spi­eth.

Then again, Schauf­fele is used to that.

“All the guys I’ve talked to said, ‘Live it up while you can, fly un­der the radar,’ ” Schauf­fele said of his sta­tus. “Like, just to­day, I played in front of what you call Rory’s crowd, I guess, and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he’s try­ing to putt, and he had to step off a few times.

“No one was yelling at me while I was putting. I kind of en­joy just hang­ing back and re­lax­ing, sort of the San Diego, South­ern Cal­i­for­nia vibe, what­ever you want to call it. It’s cool with me.”

Thing is, Schauf­fele’s re­sults in his two sea­sons on the tour should com­mand at­ten­tion.

He won twice last year in his rookie sea­son on the U.S. PGA Tour, in­clud­ing the sea­son-end­ing Tour Cham­pi­onship when he beat Justin Thomas – another from the gilded ‘11 class – for the ti­tle.

He has fin­ished tied for fifth and tied for sixth at his two U.S. Opens, and was 20th in his first Bri­tish Open at Royal Birk­dale last year.

Daniel Berger is the third well-known mem­ber of the ‘11 class – he had a strong col­lege re­sume and went back-to-back at the PGA Tour’s St. Jude Clas­sic in ‘16 and ‘17 – but is No. 40 in the world rank­ings, 16 places lower than Schauf­fele.

To the ca­sual golf fan out­side the United States, Schauf­fele might best be known as the player with the strange-look­ing name.

“Typ­i­cally, Euro­peans have an eas­ier time han­dling it ver­sus Amer­i­cans,” Schauf­fele said, and his back­ground might sug­gest why.

His fa­ther, Ste­fan, is half-French and halfGer­man. He was an elite soc­cer player and de­cath­lete, whose track-and-field ca­reer was cut short by a car ac­ci­dent on his way to train­ing that cost him his sight in his left eye.

Ste­fan moved to Amer­ica, dis­cov­ered golf, be- came a PGA Tour pro­fes­sional and taught his son how to play the game.

Soc­cer is the Schauf­fele fam­ily’s fa­vorite sport – his great-grand­fa­thers also played at a high level in Europe – so the World Cup was a big deal for Xan­der this month, es­pe­cially since he is a quar­ter French. France won the cup on Sun­day, by which time Schauf­fele was al­ready in Bri­tish Open­mode.

Af­ter shoot­ing rounds of 71 and 66, he birdied Nos. 5, 6 and 7 to make up for a bo­gey on the first hole on a warm Satur­day af­ter­noon at Carnoustie. He had suc­ces­sive birdies on the 14th and 15th be­fore rolling in a long putt on No. 18 for a birdie that put him in the fi­nal group.

ALAS­TAIR GRANT AP

Xan­der Schauf­fele will be in Sun­day’s fi­nal pair­ing with Jor­dan Spi­eth.

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