Former Aztec Xander Schauffelle wins Gold Medal at Tokyo Olympics


Jason Freund

Courtesy of San Diego Union Tribune/Associated Press

by Austin Tarke, Contributor

Former San Diego State Aztec Xander Schauffele took home the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the men’s individual golf event, adding another accomplishment to his impressive career. 

In his three years at SDSU, Schauffele was a third-team All-American in 2015, securing two individual titles over his three years and he was a seven-time Mountain West golfer of the week

Schauffele’s caddie, Austin Kaiser, was his college teammate. Schauffele said he attributes a large amount of his personal golf success to his lifelong friend and Kaiser said their friendship runs deep. 

“We have the perfect balance between professionalism and friendship,” Kaiser said. “I don’t think I’d work for anyone else.” 

Not as popular or consistent as other sports, the 2020 Olympics marks the second time golf was played in the Olympics since 1904.

In the second to last round of the tournament, Schauffele led by one stroke over the crowd favorite, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan. Early into the final round, Schauffele led by three strokes with a path to the gold. 

However, Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia had the best round of the day and finished as the clubhouse leader at 17-under-par. Schauffele found himself tied for the remaining holes of the day. However, Schauffele knocked home a birdie putt to take the lead on the seventeenth hole leading to the first-place prize and the right to bite on his new piece of gold jewelry. This win marks the second time the USA has won the gold medal in golf and the first since Charles Sands stood atop the podium in 1900.

The victory for Schauffele was not only a win for himself and his country but also a meaningful triumph for his family. Stefan Schauffele, Schauffele’s father, was an Olympic decathlon runner whose dreams of competing for a gold medal were dismantled when he was struck by a drunk driver.

To describe the pressure the former Aztec felt as the final holes concluded, Schauffele’s dad told the Golf Channel he “felt like he was playing out there.” In addition to this, Xander’s win happened in Japan, where his mother was born and his grandparents still live. By bringing home the gold medal, he seized his father’s dreams and while achieving the accomplishment in his mother’s homeland. 

Schauffele now comes back to the United States on a high note after claiming his first win since 2019. There is only one month left in the PGA Tour season and he is ranked fifth in the world golf rankings.