08/01/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 08/01/2021 05:26
The Schauffeles' sporting success extends even farther, however. Xander's great-grandfather, Richard Schauffele, won multiple German track and field titles in shot put, discus, javelin and the ball throw. A shoulder injury kept him out of the 1936 Olympics, however.
Xander didn't inherit the height of his father's side, even though childhood measurements predicted he would grow to 6-foot-5. 'Thank goodness my wife's genes kicked in,' Stefan said.
But Stefan made sure to pass along the mental toughness he learned from decathlon. Stefan taught his son breathing and concentration techniques he learned during his own athletic career. He was strict, but a deep bond was still created between father and son.
'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.
'For this to come full circle, … I just feel very fortunate and really happy to share this with him.'
Stefan started his son in golf at age 9, when Xander was strong enough to carry his bag for 18 holes. Xander wasn't allowed to use tees in those early junior tournaments on par-3 courses. Stefan knew that the temporary disadvantage would pay off later.
'That's been engraved in him forever, to be tough,' said his caddie and former college teammate, Austin Kaiser. 'His attitude is huge. … He doesn't want it to be sugar-coated.'
Xander needed that fortitude on the final four holes. His lead was gone after a bogey on the reachable par-5 14th, where he pushed his drive into an unplayable lie. Schauffele had to make a 5-foot putt for bogey. He parred the next two holes before making an 8-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 17th.
He took a one-shot lead to the final hole, but drove into trees right of the fairway. After laying up on the long par-4, Xander hit his 90-yard wedge shot to 5 feet. He sank the putt to win the gold medal.
The gold medal now accompanies Xander's four PGA TOUR victories. The most recent, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, was in January 2019, however. None of those wins have come after he's started the final round with at least a share of the lead, either. He's been the 54-hole leader four times in his TOUR career.
'I needed to get over the hump,' Xander said. 'I needed to … win while having a lead.'
While many golfers reveled in the Olympic experience, enduring a longer commute for the opportunity to hang out with their fellow Olympians, the Schauffeles stayed separate from Team USA in a hotel closer to the course. There was still one logistical snag - a lightning strike on the eve of the first round knocked out power, cutting the air conditioning - but Stefan said the decision was key to Xander's success. It also illustrates the family's single-mindedness.
'I had to fight to get a hotel near (the course),' Stefan said. 'That gave him an enormous comfort level.'
So did being in Tokyo, a city he's visited several times to see his family. The Schauffeles' international heritage extends past this year's Games, as well.
'The next Olympics are in Paris,' Stefan said with a wink, 'and I have family there, too.'