During the past two times at Augusta National, San Diego State men’s golf alum Xander Schauffele finished tied for second in 2019 and tied for 17th last November for the Masters.
It was the first time ever the Masters was played that late into the calendar year.
Now Schauffele, who is ranked No. 6 according to the Official World Golf Rankings, is about to begin his fourth Masters in a more traditional setting, compared to the tournament five months ago when No. 1 Dustin Johnson scored -20 to win.
“Two completely different Masters, obviously, last one being in November and the one in a normal calendar,” Schauffele said in his Tuesday afternoon press conference. “This feels more normal now. I think 20-under wasn’t the number everyone was looking for in November. I can see the course is firm, it’s fast, it’s playing sort of to my memory and what I’ve seen on TV historically.”
So far on the season, Schauffele has five top-10 finishes, including back-to-back runner up finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open in late January and early February.
Schauffele said he has found some stability on how to finish in the top-10, but now it is figuring out how to hoist trophies.
“It’s been a more consistent time this season,” Schauffele said. “That was sort of a goal of mine. (In) my rookie year, I won twice but it was an up-and-down year and I figured I’d have more fun if I was a little bit more consistent. Now that I’ve been more consistent, I want to win more tournaments.”
Consistency has proven to benefit Schauffele over the last couple of years.
Despite not winning a tournament since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Schauffele said he is doing whatever is best for him, even if he can’t win.
“I would much rather be a consistent golf player,” Schauffele said. “Golf consists of a bunch of losers. Unfortunately there is only one guy that wins every week and that’s how sports work. I think for my mental sanity, it’s probably healthier for me to be a more consistent player. You always want what you don’t have. (I’m) trying to stay as patient as possible and keep doing what I’m doing.”
When it comes to finding consistency, bad shots are going to happen — even to the best golfers in the world.
Schauffele said the goal is to make the bad shot not look bad, for example on the par-3 fourth when the pin is located on the left side of the green.
“There’s a lot of holes where the miss is not obvious on property,” Schauffele said. “If you can go left of the pin somehow, left of the green, left of the bunker, anywhere left is fine. When you’re around the hole, it sets you up to the middle of the green, that right bunker is very inviting, but you’d rather be better somewhere left in the bunker, chipping up the hill.
“If you can leave yourself an uphill chip, or an into-the-wind chip, it’s the most important thing and it’s a reminder to each time I play here.”
The short game is crucial for any golfer because it can help them gain shots from previous holes.
Schauffele said his chipping and pitching is crucial and could be the difference in him winning the tournament or losing by one stroke.
“Short game is the biggest knock I give myself,” Schauffele said. “Anytime I feel like I should have won a tournament or I pissed a few shots away coming down the stretch, it’s always been pitching or chipping where I feel like a top player would get that up and down with ease and end up winning the tournament and I’m stressing out a little bit. (it’s) something I’ve been very aware of in my game and it’s a statistic that if I can improve, it’ll make my life a little bit easier.
Schauffele’s first round begins at 7:42 a.m. PT on Thursday with Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.