MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Xander Schauffele had the presence of mind to bring his Olympic gold medal with him to Memphis, just not enough bravado to wear it around his neck as he emerged from a two-day blur to resume life on the PGA Tour after winning the Olympic men’s tournament on Sunday.
Schauffele arrived at TPC Southwind on Tuesday morning, approximately 48 hours after he shot a final-round 67 to secure a 1-stroke victory over Rory Sabbatini, to begin preparations for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Upon request, he produced the gold medal from his pocket.
“My dad [Stefan] slept with it the first night, so I didn’t even have it with me the day I won it,” Schauffele said. “He was going to take it to San Diego, he was going to take it back home to his house and parade around with his friends.
“But I told him I had a little media to do and I’m sure everyone wanted to see the gold medal here. Sort of my moment in the sun with it.”
Schauffele tried to cram in as much as he could before leaving Japan, having a celebratory drink in the clubhouse, retreating to a Tokyo hotel to see his Japanese grandparents, reveling in the victory as much as he could before leaving Monday morning from Japan for a trip to Memphis.
And, he said, considered skipping the Olympics.
“In all honesty, there was part of me that was contemplating not going,” he said. “I joked with my wife about that right when I called her. She was like, can you imagine that there’s a little piece of you that almost didn’t show up to Tokyo? We had a nice laugh about that.
“With everything playing out there with COVID and everything, obviously it’s been strange and difficult for everyone. I decided not to stay in the [Olympic] Village, which is about an hour and 20 minutes away. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit the Village either, which I’m a little bit bummed about.
“But going into it, I sort of corrected my mindset on the whole matter and really just focused on this four day golf tournament. Then being able to take the podium afterwards really made me understand and realize sort of how special it actually is being there on the podium, winning any medal obviously. The flag’s being raised, playing your national anthem, it really was something spectacular and obviously nothing like it.”
He arrived here Monday morning and is now trying to get readjusted.
“I think the biggest thing for me is being able to sort of hone in and focus on the task at hand this week,” he said. “What was done last week is done, and we’re going to talk about it a little bit more, but besides that, I need to sort of get back on the time zone, really start to focus more, lock back in and try to play well this week. “Fortunately I’m not coming to a new property, one that I’ve played a few times and had minimal success on, but I think I’m obviously in decent form coming overseas. Looking forward to the week.”
Schauffele, 27, had not won since capturing the Sentry Tournament of Champions in 2019, a span of more than two-and-a-half years that saw numerous close calls as evidenced by his ranking of No. 4 in the world.
He ends into this week 10th in FedEx Cup points with just two weeks to go until the FedEx Cup playoffs. He is also in the sixth and final automatic qualifying position for the Ryder Cup, although he would almost certainly get a pick from captain Steve Stricker if he falls out.
“I think playing really well and obviously having a gold medal is just feeding my energy,” he said. “I’m really excited to get back home to the west coast, but you want to win each and every week and now that I finally got this taste of winning and being able to win from up front, that’s why I think all of us compete. That’s the rush we really chase and it does feel good and it’s really rewarding to pull off and I’m ready to get back to work.”