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For a guy who has won four PGA Tour events—including a WGC as well as the Tour Championship—and now an Olympic gold medal, Xander Schauffele says he considers the FedEx Cup Playoffs perhaps the most severe test.
“I think it’s probably the most cutthroat golf that we can have in terms of pressure,” he said on Tuesday during his session with the media ahead of The Northern Trust, the first of three playoff events. “Besides the majors and The Players. … it’s just the most fun and pressure-packed golf you can have.
“We always have so much to play for, and it all comes out of this.”
Schauffele played 19 events during the 2020-21 season, making 17 cuts and banking more than $5 million in earnings. He finished 13th in the points race, which puts him on a clear path to the Tour Championship, which takes the top 30 after the first two playoff tournaments.
The FedEx Cup champion pockets the first-place prize of $15 million of bonus money.
“It’s the playoffs,” he said. “It is three weeks in a row, which is kind of nice, so if you do start playing some good golf, there’s some continuation there.”
After the first two events, the field is staggered for the Tour Championship, with the leader starting at 10 under, the No. 2 golfer at 8 under and so on.
Schauffele was runner-up in the Tour Championship in 2019. In 2020, he tied for second, three shots back of Dustin Johnson, this despite having the best four-day total at East Lake.
This year will be the third using the “starting strokes” format.
“It’s an interesting one. I’m sure people are still discussing whether it’s the best format for us. It is what it is for now. Until it changes, we just have to deal with this one.
“Hopefully the people that matter are talking about it.”
Something else people are still talking about is that gold medal Schauffele won at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Tokyo. He took it with him to Memphis to show Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, among others. So where is it now?
“Pops has it. I can’t get it off of him right now,” Schauffele said. “I had a couple of media things to do with the medal, and then I got a phone call shortly after that, asking for the medal back. So he is taking good care of it as we speak.”
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