Xander Schauffele kicks off golden Olympics victory tour

Xander Schauffele kicks off golden Olympics victory tour

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It would make for a very large ball mark at 85 millimeters in diameter, or an unusually heavy business card at 556 grams. One day it may live under glass.

For now, though, Xander Schauffele isn’t likely to part with his Olympic gold medal anytime soon. Beaming through his sleep-deprivation, Schauffele toted his prize around in his pocket at TPC Southwind on Tuesday. People kept asking to see it, and he obliged. He draped it around his neck. He posed with it. Others felt the weight of it.

Schauffele and the gold medal are still in the honeymoon phase.

“You know, my dad (and coach, Stefan) slept with it the first night, so I didn’t even have it with me the day I won it,” said Schauffele, 27. “He was going to take it to San Diego, he was going to take it back home to his house and parade around with his friends, but I told him I had a little media to do and I’m sure everyone wanted to see the gold medal here.

“Sort of my moment in the sun with it,” he added.

The medal, in fact, may be the only thing keeping him upright, providing critical ballast after a whirlwind 48 hours since his one-stroke victory over Rory Sabbatini on Sunday.

Then again, “whirlwind” might be an understatement.

“We took a van ride, we had a few drinks, a toast, a celebration in the clubhouse with all of the committee members there with the Olympics,” Schauffele said, when asked for a blow-by-blow since the medal ceremony. “Then we got in a van ride straight to the Hilton in Narita where actually we stayed for the ZOZO (CHAMPIONSHIP), so that was a familiar hotel.

“That’s where I met up and kind of had a little in‑room dining with my grandparents and some breakfast with them as well,” he continued. “Then we ended up getting on a plane the following morning with everyone basically in this field now coming over from the Olympics (19 players).”

On top of everything else, there was an in-flight birthday party for one of the caddies.

“Didn’t get much sleep,” Schauffele said.

They arrived in Memphis at 10 a.m. Monday.

“Still really excited,” said Schauffele, perhaps still running on adrenaline. “Just an overwhelming amount of positivity coming my way. Just obviously in a really good mood.”

Although he doesn’t run his Twitter – his brother handles it – Schuaffele said he has had fun keeping up with the torrent of congratulatory messages, sometimes through intermediaries.

“Matthew McConaughey tweeted me,” he said. “My wife sent me that.”

Now the trick becomes how to keep savoring his victory while getting back to work. On the plus side he knows TPC Southwind, where he closed with a 66 to finish T6 a year ago, a big improvement over his T27 in 2019. So he won’t have to do much advance scouting.

Getting over the jet lag and 14-hour time difference might be the tougher task for Schauffele as well as fellow Olympian Justin Thomas, his housemate this week. Tommy Fleetwood, who represented England in Tokyo, said he woke up at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. So did Thomas. “I wasn’t too pleased when my alarm went off,” he said. But he rallied for an early practice round.

All have reported having had a great time as Olympians, and Thomas admitted Tuesday he’s been more jealous of his housemate’s medal than he’s been of any other trophy or golfer. So it was a surprise when Schauffele said that he considered skipping the Games.

It was a good thing, he joked with his wife Maya afterward, that he’d decided to come.

“She was like, ‘Can you imagine that there’s a little piece of you that almost didn’t show up to Tokyo?’” Schauffele said, smiling at the memory. “We had a nice laugh about that.”

His accomplishment began to sink in as he stood atop the medal stand and listened to the national anthem, but it’s really hit home since then, with people’s reaction to the gold.

“That gold medal is so sick, it’s so cool, it’s so unique,” said Thomas. “I would love to win the other three majors (in addition to the PGA Championship) and I would love to win a gold medal at some point, but it was pretty awesome holding and seeing that thing. It is extremely heavy.”

As for where the medal will ultimately live, Schauffele said, he wasn’t sure. Stefan was an Olympic decathlon hopeful for Germany until his car was hit by a drunk driver. In a way, they seem to have come to an understanding that Xander’s gold was for both of them. He anticipates his father taking temporary possession of it so that he can show it around back home. Xander especially loved showing it off to his maternal grandparents at the hotel back in Tokyo.

“It’s pretty hard to impress someone who’s almost 90 years old and has been on this planet for a long time,” he said. “They’ve seen a lot of things, and to see my grandpa and my grandma’s reaction when I pull out this gold medal, it really was sort of surprising, it shocked me. It was just so cool because they’ve never seen it before and it was so new and so fresh.

“That’s kind of the reaction and something that I would want everyone, kids or my kids’ kids down the generational line to have,” he continued. “It’s a really cool piece to have in the family.”