'I never gave up': Xander Schauffele can hold his head high after another close call at the Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Xander Schauffele experienced a full range of emotions on Sunday in the final round of the 85th Masters. He fell out (...)
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Xander Schauffele experienced a full range of emotions on Sunday in the final round of the 85th Masters. He fell out of contention early, roared back to make it interesting and just as he looked poised to make one of the great comebacks in tournament history, he made a round-ruining triple bogey.
On the scorecard, it added up to a round of even-par 72 and a tie for third place, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of this tragedy in three parts.
Schauffele entered the final round at Augusta National Golf Club trailing Hideki Matsuyama by four strokes. After a birdie at the second, Schauffele appeared to have shot himself out of the tournament with what he called “a messy start.” He made costly bogeys at the third and fourth hole and then doubled the fifth, which he failed to par in all four rounds. At 3 over for the day through six holes, Schauffele’s deficit had grown to seven strokes. He could’ve been deflated, but he was not.
“I never gave up,” Schauffele said. “It almost took the edge off.”
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The rollercoaster round began to turn for the better with birdies at Nos. 7 and 8 and kicked into high gear with a string of four straight birdies beginning at No. 12. Meanwhile, Matsuyama made his first bogey of the day at No. 12 and over shot the 15th green with his second shot and made another bogey to give Schauffele a glimmer of hope. He trailed by two strokes and had the tee at the par-3 16th hole.
“I was coming in hot. I was feeling good,” Schauffele said. “I was in full chase mode.”
Four birdies in a row for Xander Schauffele puts him within striking distance with three holes to play. #themasters pic.twitter.com/khTsjqKZ4j
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 11, 2021
This was his chance to apply the pressure. Instead, he left Matsuyama off the hook. Schauffele tried to draw an 8-iron at the 170-yard hole and his shot hit a wall of wind and landed short on the bank and rolled into the water. He went on to make triple bogey, sealing his fate.
“I hit a perfect 8 iron,” he said. “The wind was into us, left to right. It got smoked and eaten up. You could kind of see it. The ball hovered there.”
It is a shot that Schauffele likely will play over and over in his mind and think about what could have been. Adding insult to injury, when he took his drop, his 9-iron flew the green.
“It seemed like it went downwind almost. (Caddie) Austin (Kaiser) and I just kind of painfully laughed at each other and said, ‘Well, I guess it switched again,’ ” Schauffele said.
Let the second-guessing of how he played his tee shot at 16 begin.
“I think a lot of great shots into 16 are left to right. High cuts into that mound,” Schauffele said. “I’ve been hitting a good high cut all week. I just didn’t think of it at that time. I hit like a hard draw 8-iron, and it wasn’t the shot. Moving forward, just kind of throw it in the memory bank. I’m going to keep collecting thoughts. Hopefully, I keep coming back here for years to come, and the goal is to win one day.”
Despite another close call at the Masters — Schauffele finished tied for second in 2019 — he still held his head high with how he battled back to give Matsuyama a scare.
“I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” Schauffele said. “I might be tossing and turning, but I’ll be OK.”