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Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele on TPC Sawgrass

Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele on TPC Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Xander Schauffele finished tied for second in his debut at the Players Championship in 2018, but since that sterling performance he’s missed the cut three straight times. Just don’t remind him of this pesky little fact.

“You’re actually the second guy, someone outside reminded me how terrible my record is now since my tied second finish,” Schauffele said ahead of the Players Championship. “So I wasn’t aware that I was so bad here. You guys are crushing it. Reality check’s always nice. Usually, my wife gives me one. So we’ll just let it be in the media room today.”

Jokes aside, Schauffele has tried his hardest to bury the memory of last year’s Players Championship in the back recesses of his mind.

“Last year I would wash up as an X. Felt like we were at an Open Championship and I got the bad side of the wave,” he said.

When the wind blew its hardest from left to right at TPC Sawgrass, Schauffele dunked his tee shot short of the island green and his round spiraled out of control. Later, his caddie, Austin Kaiser, showed him a stat posted on social media that encapsulated how quickly everything had gone wrong.

“He showed me like I was the first ever to go from like the top 10 to outside the top 100 or something like that in like one hole,” said Schauffele, who shot 73-78 and had the weekend off. “Like I said, my team’s all about giving me reality checks and I got one.”

Schauffele, ranked No. 6 in the world, isn’t the only big-name player who has been sent home packing in recent years. Pete Dye’s house of horrors can expose any weakness in a player’s game; it doesn’t discriminate, even from the likes of major winners Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth and reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.

Collin Morikawa hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the 2021 Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“To be honest, my game has only felt good coming into this tournament in 2020,” said Morikawa, citing the year the tournament was canceled after one round due to COVID-19. “Sometimes you come to events and you feel really comfortable; you’re comfortable with the setting or you’re comfortable with the golf course. I feel comfortable here, and what’s great about this golf course is that it does fit (my game). I hit a lot of mid-irons to short irons into greens and you have to drive it well, but it is…


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