Xander Schauffele to keep grinding

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It’s clear that Xander Schauffele doesn’t plan on making many changes to his life or outlook after a breakthrough season on the PGA Tour.

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After he’d arrived on Wednesday at his alma mater, San Diego State, for a press conference that coincided with him being named the tour’s Rookie of the Year, Schauffele grinned when asked if he had any plans to spend the millions of dollars he won in 2017.

“I rolled up in my scuffed up Toyota Camry,” he said. “I still have got a year on my lease. It’s sitting at my one-bedroom apartment in Hillcrest. All this money, it’s the result of hard work and everything else.

“When I was younger, people think of being a professional athlete, (and) they think of everything that comes with it. To be honest, I’ve lost sight of all the stuff on the side, and I feel really fortunate to be sitting in this seat.”

Xander Schauffele AFP PHOTO

It is a nice spot. Two weeks ago, the San Diego native became the first rookie in tour history to win the Tour Championship. That added to his earlier victory in the Greenbrier Classic, and he finished No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings.

In an indication of just how good the current crop of young players are on the tour, Schauffele, 23, was the fourth Rookie of the Year to come from the high school class of 2011. Those who preceded him were Jordan Spieth (2013), Daniel Berger (2015) and Emiliano Grillo (2016).

Justin Thomas, another member of that class, won the FedEx Cup title and will likely be the Player of the Year after five wins this season that included the PGA Championship.

The success of those peers means that Schauffele isn’t giving himself much time to celebrate, though he did a little bit last week by going out with friends to a restaurant in Little Italy.

“The award is a true honor,” Schauffele said. “I’m trying not to let my head get in the clouds.

“Jordan, Berger, Justin Thomas … they’ve been in the limelight already, and they’ve managed to keep their foot down and keep going forward. Everyone talks about how great this is, but if I want to be in that company, I’ve got to keep my head down and apply to the situation.”

Schauffele, who is 32nd in the World Golf Rankings, isn’t taking much of a break. He leaves for Asia on Saturday to play in three PGA Tour events at the start of the wraparound 2017-18 season —one each in Malaysia, South Korea and China. He’s also scheduled to play in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, where his maternal grandparents live.

“I was talking to Justin (Thomas’) parents, and he’s defending in Malaysia and is playing in South Korea, but he’s not playing in China because he doesn’t like the course,” Schauffele said. “The fact that he already knew what he likes and doesn’t like gives me more attraction to go figure it out—see it now rather than later.

“I’m tired, but I’m not that tired.”

Schauffele said he will then shut it down, not playing any tour events on the domestic schedule until early January’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui.

There are two West Coast Swing tournaments he knows he’s playing: the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines (Jan. 25-28) and the Genesis Open at Riviera in Los Angeles (Feb. 15-18).

“I’ve yet to play good golf at home, so that’s something I’m looking forward to,” said Schauffele, who missed the cut at Torrey Pines in January by shooting 75-76.

Since winning more than $4.3 million in official money on tour this year, Schauffele has done little to pamper himself, other than beginning to look with his girlfriend, Maya Lowe, at possible condos to buy in San Diego’s downtown or Bankers Hill.

Schauffele has rewarded some of those closest to him. As a thanks for complimentary lessons while he worked his way up through the golf world, he purchased a $30,000 Trackman machine for his putting instructor at The Grand, Derek Uyeda.

“I couldn’t be happier to repay him for everything he’s done for me,” Schauffele said.

“I wanted to take care of my team. People will tell you I don’t like owing people anything, and especially the people who have helped me succeed.”

TNS

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