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Schauffele’s success sets par for SDSU men’s golf

SDSU+alumnus+Xander+Schauffele+looks+on+after+a+drive+during+the+2013+season.+Schauffele+won+the+2017+PGA+Tour+Championship+and+was+named+the+2017+PGA+Tour+Rookie+of+the+Year.
SDSU alumnus Xander Schauffele looks on after a drive during the 2013 season. Schauffele won the 2017 PGA Tour Championship and was named the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

SDSU alumnus Xander Schauffele looks on after a drive during the 2013 season. Schauffele won the 2017 PGA Tour Championship and was named the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

File Photo

File Photo

SDSU alumnus Xander Schauffele looks on after a drive during the 2013 season. Schauffele won the 2017 PGA Tour Championship and was named the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

by Tristi Rodriguez, Contributor

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Former San Diego State men’s golf All-American Xander Schauffele became the first PGA rookie to ever win the Tour Championship on Sept. 24.

The 23-year-old, who was named the PGA Tour rookie of the year on Oct. 2, netted more than a $3.5 million prize.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Schauffele said. “I really have no idea what I’m going to do with it.”

Two rookies made it to the 2017 season finale. Only 11 have since the playoffs in 2007.

None had ever won it. 

Until Schauffele. 

“I was shocked,” SDSU assistant coach Evan Emerick said. “I was really excited, but still the next day I couldn’t believe that he won the Tour Championship at 23. It’s just insane.” 

Schauffele was going back-and-forth with 27-time career top-10 competitor, Justin Thomas. Schauffele ended the suspense with a short birdie putt on the par-5 18th to finish with a final-round two-under 68 to win by one stroke over Thomas.

The former Aztec ended the tournament 12-under-par 268.

The spotlight is not new to Schauffele.

During his senior year in 2015 he led the Aztecs in three of four tournaments, and recorded a team-best 71.92 scoring average. Schauffele finished as SDSU’s No. 1 golfer in eight of 10 tournaments.

That same year, the Aztecs won the Mountain West Conference and made it to nationals.

“He worked hard,” Emerick said. “He worked harder than anyone. We used to have days where we’d go out to Sycuan after workouts for wedges at 7 a.m.”

After practicing with Emerick in the morning, Schauffele would drive to two more golf courses in San Diego in order to get additional hours of practice. 

“He would drive to our other course Barona and hit balls for four hours, and then he would drive to our other course, San Diego Country Club, all the way down in Chula Vista,” Emerick said. “When I saw that, I knew how dedicated he was.”

Schauffele has kept a level head throughout his time on the PGA tour, and has remained humble despite achieving success at the highest level.

“He’s the same kid,” Emerick said. “I went to this little dinner they had and there was about 30 kids and he was just mingling with them and goofing around with them. He has a really good head on his shoulders.”

Schauffele attributed much of his current success to the training he received from the SDSU coaching staff, along with the support and friendship of his former teammates.

“When I think of San Diego State, I think of just putting in work with my coaches and my teammates,” Schauffele said. “The fun rounds of qualifying, the tournaments, the talks with coach in his office, traveling on the road, workouts. There’s so many things that set you up for being a professional.”

One of Schauffele’s former teammates, senior Blake Abercrombie, said Schauffele was a good leader.

“Xander was always someone you could talk to,” Abercrombie said. “He was definitely a team leader. If you had any questions about how to do things or whatever, he would always give you an answer.”

The success of the team isn’t the only thing being remembered; the fun times shared together are also cherished.

“Me and him getting burritos and just talking about life and golf, and that kind of stuff,” Emerick said. “He would be like ‘Hey I need to get lunch, or dinner, can we talk about some stuff? Can we get a burrito?’ That was kind of our thing.”

Another one of Schauffele’s old teammates, senior PJ Samiere, remembers him most fondly from their time together when the team made it to nationals.

“It was 90 degrees with like 100 percent humidity and it was just the most awful thing ever. It was when we were finished playing and we all see each other and he just looks like the most human I’ve ever seen him look,” Samiere said. “He’s used to just playing so good. As a freshman, him a senior playing super good and all of a sudden looks tired and hot, it was funny.”

Samiere sees Schauffele as an example that if you work hard, it is possible to make it to the next level.

“Just keep grinding at what you do,” Samiere said, “because it’s possible. What he’s done is possible.”

Emerick said he believes that both Samiere and Abercrombie have what it takes to join Schauffele at the next level after they graduate from SDSU.

“I think PJ and Blake both have a lot of talent and they could do it next,” Emerick said. “Just depends how hard they work and how much they want it, but I can definitely see them doing it.”

One thing is for certain, Schauffele will always consider himself an Aztec.

“When anyone asks me about my career,” Schauffele said,  “or asks about my career in the future, San Diego State is a huge thought that’s going to come to my mind. The coaching staff, the teammates, all of the experiences here. I think it’s really cool giving San Diego something to cheer on. It’s always special when it’s your hometown.”

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