KAWAGOE, Japan – When Xander Schauffele wedged his third shot to within four feet and got up and down to save par on the last hole on Sunday, he fulfilled a family dream. His one-stroke victory over Rory Sabbatini to claim Olympic Gold was not only for himself, but for the entire Schauffele family. Stefan Schauffele (Xander’s Dad and his only swing coach) was an Olympic hopeful for Germany 35 years ago before an auto accident that involved a drunk driver robbed him of his opportunity.
Stefan was in Tokyo at the Olympics watching his son win gold and Xander knew what it meant to his Dad. “I did think of him as soon as I made the putt,” Xander said. “I knew he was going to be there crying.” It was truly a full-circle event for the entire family, Xander’s mother Ping Yi was born in Chinese Taipei and was raised in Japan. Xander’s maternal grandparents still live in Tokyo. “For this to come full circle, … I just feel very fortunate and really happy to share this with him.”
When interviewed after Xander won, Stefan said he’d be especially emotional once the anthem was played for the podium and medal ceremony.
“He put all his eggs in one basket for quite some time … to compete as a decathlete in the Olympics,” Xander said. “Life came at him fast, it was swiped away from him, but he saw potential in me … and so he put all his eggs in my basket.
The gold medal was in serious doubt after Xander pushed his tee-shot into an unplayable lie – making bogey on the par 5 – 14th at Kasumigaseki Country Club. He bounced back making par on the next two holes before making birdie on the short par-4 17th. His scrambling par at the last was good for 67 and an 18 under par total. Sabbatini scorched the course for a final round 61 to claim silver. A seven player sudden-death playoff for the bronze immediately followed regulation play – with C.T Pan outlasting the Open Champion Collin Morikawa on the third playoff hole (18th).