Xander Schauffele won the biggest event of his career when he was successful in the Tokyo Olympics over the summer, winning the gold medal in men’s golf competition.
The American finished with a score of -18, one short clear of Rory Sabbatini. There were then a bunch of players ending with -15 and -14, the latter of which included Australian Cameron Smith.
It was a nervy finish to the tournament, but Schauffele showed all his experience. He birdied the 17th hole on the final day and then parred the 18th to seal the victory. Sabbatini broke the Olympic record with a round of 61 on Day 4 to put the pressure on Schauffele but he had to settle for silver in the end.
The world number four is already a multiple winner of the PGA Tour. He had been successful four times prior to his victory in Japan, including a WGC event success. This latest win is his biggest though, given the prestige around the Olympics.
Schauffele will be hoping the gold medal will be a springboard to Major Championship success. He has finished inside the top ten in all four of the big events but has yet to come out on top.
The Olympic champion is 21.0 in the golf betting for the 2022 US Masters, the next Grand Slam tournament on the golf calendar. He finished in a tie for third place at Augusta earlier this year so he will fancy his chances of landing the Green Jacket next time around.
Schauffele’s best finish in a Major is a tie for second place. In 2018 he was the runner-up in the Open Championship which was won by Francesco Molinari. It was looking good for him after three rounds as he led going into the Sunday, but a +3 round ruined his chances of lifting the Claret Jug.
A year later, Schauffele also had to settle for the runner-up spot at the US Masters. In what was another fine week, he was one shot behind Tiger Woods in his memorable comeback win. In contrast to the Open a year earlier, the American finished the tournament strongly this time to move up the leaderboard with a final round of 68.
Schauffele in FedEx Cup contention
It could be a strong end to the year for the 27-year-old as he is 13th in the FedEx Cup standings and very much in contention for the top prize at the conclusion of the playoffs in September.
Schauffele’s best finish in the FedEx Cup was second place in 2019 behind Rory McIlroy. He is also a former winner of the Tour Championship, the final tournament in the FedEx Cup playoffs. The American was successful at East Lake by one shot ahead of Justin Thomas in 2017.
If the Californian can avoid an Olympics hangover, he can earn some big points which will help him edge the gap with world number one Jon Rahm before the season is up.
At the end of the 2021 campaign, Schauffele will reflect on what has been a big year for him. It will surely only whet his appetite further for Major Championship glory in 2022.