Schauffele prepares for unpredictable fall Masters


File photo

SDSU alumnus Xander Schauffele looks on after a drive during the 2013 season.

by Breven Honda, Senior Staff Writer

Luscious green grass and trees signifying the fairways from the roughs at Augusta National Golf Course will turn to pure green grass but fall-colored trees for the 2020 Masters this weekend. 

In a normal year, springtime brings the historic tournament of pine trees and bright pink azaleas blooming beyond the infamous 13th hole with roars from the crowd at each hole. However this year, we will see autumn branches and a golf major without the cheers and moans from the gallery. 

When the Masters was played a year ago, Tiger Woods got his 81st career PGA Tour win, giving him one victory shy of the record of 82, set by Sam Snead, who won three Masters of his own. That Masters victory for Woods was his fourth and first major championship win in 11 years after multiple injuries.

Three golfers trailed Woods for second place. Those three were Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and San Diego State men’s golf alum Xander Schauffele. 

Schauffele started last year’s tournament with a one-over 73 followed by a seven-under 65 in round two. And by the final round, he saw himself atop the leaderboard, even if it was for a split second.  

The 27-year-old said in his Tuesday press conference that he learned from last year in his second appearance to not get the hopes too high, even on the final day playing for the coveted green jacket.  

“I think I was too aware that I was tied for the lead looking up at the (leaderboard) on the 14th hole, so the gamp of the 15th tee was a bit of a hiccup,” Schauffele said. “Had a very kiddish moment, realizing I was tied for the lead on a Sunday. The inexperience was there, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t upset with the tied-second.”

One of the perks of not having fans around the course this year is the opening to have more room on certain holes. 

Schauffele said on Tuesday that one hole that favors the golfers this weekend is the par-5 second where you could go right and not worry about hitting a member of the gallery compared to a normal weekend at Augusta.  

“A few areas are actually a little bit easier,” Schauffele said. “For example, number two. Everyone likes to stand way right of the green, unless you’re feeling really dangerous, you try to hit a ball in the middle of the crowd, which all of us won’t do, unless it is an errant shot. But there is space now where if you blow it out way right, it is not a bad place to miss.” 

Since Schauffele’s last win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January 2019, he has received six second place finishes, including last year’s Masters.     

Schauffele, currently the eighth-best golfer in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings, is coming off another of his second-place finishes at the CJ Cup almost a month ago in Las Vegas. 

In the two major tournaments so far in 2020, Schauffele has finished in the top-10 both times, placing second at the Tour Championship and fifth at the U.S. Open.  

One thing to look out for this weekend is the weather. Rain early in the tournament is expected and it makes the ground conditions more favorable to spin the ball because of the grass being so moist. 

Schauffele tees off Thursday morning at 7:44 a.m. EST with Jason Kokrak and Henrik Stenson.