Xander Schauffele poised to take next step after majestic Tour Championship showing

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It has been nearly 20 months since Xander Schauffele last won a tournament on the PGA Tour, a one-stroke win over Gary Woodland at the Sentry Tournament in Hawaii.

However, despite the recent drought of success, it has not been all bad luck for the American. Some tournaments could have fallen in his favour, a shot or two separating him from the winner’s enclosure.

Those slender defeats can be heartbreaking at the best of times, but such is the nature of golf, every tournament presents a new opportunity to redeem yourself.

Over the last year, the world number seven has been on the receiving end of some agonising defeats, losing in play-offs at the WGC-HSBC and the Sentry.

At the Charles Schwab, he lipped out a par putt from just three feet, dropping one behind the leaders with one to play. Another chance gone begging when in serious contention.

Last weekend at East Lake, a course he won at in 2019, Schauffele fired the best score of the weekend but had to settle for a share of second with Justin Thomas.

Under the staggered start system introduced for the PGA Tour season finale, the 26-year-old began the tournament seven shots behind Dustin Johnson on three-under.

His final score of 15-under was four strokes better than Johnson. However, because of the staggered start format, he would finish three behind the 2016 US Open champion.

Nevertheless, Schauffele’s searing talents were clear for all to see. He was the best player over the four days in Atalanta, something that has gone unnoticed in the shadow of other stars in recent times. Partly because he has yet to break through and win a major.

In his first 11 major starts, the San Diego native has finished in the top-six five times, including second at the 2018 Open and 2019 Masters. Consistency personified.

Solid in almost every statistical category, he has a fantastic temperament, ranking seventh in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and eighth in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee.

He may not have the same power off the tee as Bryson DeChambeau or the imposing frame of Dustin Johnson. But his slender figure makes him like that ordinary guy any of us could have played with at our local golf club last weekend.

On the results front, he has been influential, recording 52 top-25s and 23 top-10s in 95 events. Included in these top-10s are four wins, six runner-ups and four thirds.

With one of the best all-round games, it is just a matter of time before Schaufelle clinches multiple victories. He is a big tournament player, and few elevate their game at the highest level than him.

He is blessed with a strong all round-game and can find fairways, find greens, and quickly find a way to get the ball in the hole.

Poised to take the next step and seal that elusive first major title, his ability to manage the course and make key putts will be the difference going forward.

It won’t be long before the talented American tastes success on the grand stage.

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