Schauffele is good and he knows it

Photo by Sarah Smith, Staff Photographer

Photo by Sarah Smith, Staff Photographer

by Rafael Avitabile

In the game of golf, one’s own mind can get in the way of a low score more than any bunker, divot, or lateral hazard. Confidence alone can be the difference between getting the “yips” on the 18th tee box and hoisting a tournament trophy in the clubhouse.

Junior Xander Schauffele of the San Diego State men’s golf team knows what it takes to win and carries himself accordingly. On the ninth hole of his Friday practice round, Schauffele ripped a four iron down the fairway of the short par 4 after watching three of his teammates blast their drivers.

[quote]“I just don’t like leaving myself with that kind of shot,” Schauffele said, walking down the fairway. “I’ll still birdie from here.”[/quote]

His approach shot from 124 yards out missed the green short. On the walk to his next shot, the topic of conversation was whether or not he intended to turn professional after he graduates next season.

“Absolutely,” Schauffele said. “The purpose of all this is to try to set myself up in a better position for when I turn pro. Right now I’m feeling pretty good with my chances.”

He played his uphill chip shot perfectly and found the bottom of the cup.

“Easy game,” Schauffele said. “Told you I’d birdie.”

Through six events in the 2014 season, Golfstat’s No. 41 ranked player has earned three top 5 finishes, including a win at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic earlier this month. His 71.89 stroke average and seven rounds under par lead the Aztecs, and his average score versus par of -.24 is good for fifth-best in the Mountain West. The elevation of his game has propelled his positioning in the national college rankings by more than 80 spots since the beginning of the season.

[quote]“So far this is the best I’ve ever played in my 20 years,” Schauffele said. “It’s a pretty good time to peak, I’d say.”[/quote]

Schauffele also benefits from former Aztec teammates now on the professional circuit, such as Tom Berry of the PGA Latin Tour and Alex Kang of the Asian Tour. Both are just a phone call or text message away for Schauffele when needed for advice.

Schauffele has also had the chance to pick the brain of Aaron Goldberg, a 2008 graduate who currently plays on the Tour. The success of players who have gone through the same program under the same coaches has given Schauffele an extra source of confidence in regards to his professional aspirations.

[quote]“It’s always good to see players who have gone through the exact same things that you’ve gone through make it,” Schauffele said. “It’s pretty cool to see all of them out there and it’s definitely motivating to try and get out there myself. It’s definitely a bonus for me.”[/quote]

What separates the great golfers from the run-of-the-mill is the voice inside their head. Some voices reaffirm certainty and some encourage doubt. Schauffele seems to be listening to the former.

Photo by Sarah Smith, Staff Photographer