Xander Schauffele is done with golf's ridiculous rules and is enjoying his work at the Players Championship.
Xander Schauffele is done with golf’s ridiculous rules and is enjoying his work at the Players Championship.

The ball missed by three feet, and Xander Schauffele couldn’t hold a smile on his face. For 45 feet, the putt looked great, but then it didn’t. It wasn’t clear if the smirk was because he thought he had made it and the ball still didn’t reach the cup, or if it was just the way pros react at the end of a long day of doing everything they can to hold on for dear life against a course that’s starting to wake up. What counts is that Schauffele was smiling as he tapped in his last three feet on the 18th hole, which is something we haven’t seen him do much lately in golf.

Schauffele is doing well at the Players Championship. He shot 65 in the first round and 68 in the second, which put him in a tie for second place as the sun sets on Friday at TPC Sawgrass. We might get to his show before we’re done. But you need to know where Schauffele has been to fully understand where he is at the tour’s main event.

Schauffele’s past few years have been strange. Sure, the last few years have been strange for everyone in golf, but Schauffele has had a particularly rough time. With three wins in 2022 and a cut run that reached 41 on Friday, he’s been really good. He’s currently ranked sixth in the world. But the man who was once called a “big-game hunter” hasn’t been very important at golf’s biggest events. In his last nine major starts, he’s only finished in the top ten twice, hasn’t done anything noteworthy at the last three Players Championships, and has only earned one point in four matches at last fall’s Ryder Cup. He’s been linked with LIV Golf, but not because he wants to work for the Saudi-backed circuit. It’s because he’s been critical of Commissioner Jay Monahan in public, which has made people think he’s unhappy. In other news, Schauffele’s dad said his son almost got kicked off the Ryder Cup team because of a disagreement over a contract. When you consider that golf was going through a civil war and that many of the game’s main players seemed to care more about themselves than the sport as a whole, along with rumors that the American locker room was broken up, Schauffele did not come off in the best light. Also, there was that terribly awkward ad for gambling.

All of these make sense when looked at in isolation. A lot of players have bad times. Schauffele isn’t the only one who feels this way about Monahan; he’s just the only one who’s willing to say it in public. Since the Ryder Cup brings in tens of millions of dollars, player pay is something that should be talked about. Having to be on camera is hard. Not so much issues as oddities… but there sure do seem to be a lot of them, and they’ve hurt the reputation of a player who used to have a lot of fans both inside and outside the game.

And Schauffele, like many other golfers, both professional and amateur, is tired of the ongoing split in the sport. It’s easy to see how frustrated he is when people keep asking him about the state of the professional game, where it’s going, and how it should look. That’s why, while he was dancing the same song, early in the week, I had to ask, Is it hard to find joy in the work with all of this (makes a lot of golfing motions) going on? Schauffele thought about it for a moment and then gave an insightful answer. “Actually that’s not a terrible question” is about the nicest thing a player can say to a writer.

The player said, “I love my job.” “I enjoy golf a lot.” At work, I get to make mistakes and then try again, or I hit a good shot and then try to prove it. It’s the best job in the world to me. If you start digging and can’t find any answers, I can see how you could make your workplace pretty bad. That’s kind of how you do it. Luckily for me, I trust some of the people who are leading us, so I’m just hoping for the best outcome and playing the best golf I can throughout the process.

Yes, even in these crazy times, being a professional golfer isn’t the hardest job in the world. But that doesn’t mean the last couple of years have been fun, and for many people, it’s been hard to find pleasure in their work. No matter where you are in life, that feeling is true for everyone.

Schauffele spoke on Tuesday, and he said that “words are words” that don’t mean much if nothing is done. Schauffele has been living up to what he said and putting his past behind him so far this year. He has four top 10s in six starts and is ranked eighth in strokes gained. This puts him in a good position to defend his Olympic gold title. It’s still a good week for him; he’s only 36 holes away from the biggest win of his career.

At the start of Saturday, Schauffele will be four shots behind Wyndham Clark. It looks like the defending U.S. Open champion can’t be stopped so far, and Sawgrass is turning brown and firming up. Schauffele will have a lot of work to do. But for the first time in a long time, the work makes him happy.

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Get notified of the best deals on our WordPress themes.

You May Also Like

ESPN says sorry for what Aaron Rodgers said about Jimmy Kimmel on the Pat McAfee Show.

ESPN apologised on Friday afternoon for the false things New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers said about late-night show Jimmy Kimmel on “The Pat McAfee Show” earlier this week.

Trump’s clubs will host three of LIV Golf’s 14 events

The golf course of former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. is now on the schedule for LIV Golf’s second season.

The Past Is Out of Daniel Suarez’s Hands

Daniel Suárez did not come from a racing family or dynasty. His…

After transfer dig, Lionel Messi partially agrees with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi admits he nearly followed Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia, but he disagrees that the Middle Eastern league is superior than MLS.