'I Just Kept Telling Myself I Need To Earn This' - How Xander Schauffele Finally Got Over The Line In A Major

The American talks of his relief to finally land a Major Championship, an emotional victory that left his father in “a mess”

Xander Schauffele wins PGA Championship
Xander Schauffele was not going to be denied his first Major Championship title at Valhalla
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Xander Schauffele admitted that it was a relief to finally claim his first Major Championship without needing to go head to head with Bryson DeChambeau in a playoff – something he said would not have been “a whole lot of fun”.

DeChambeau had posted the target at 20-under to apply huge pressure on the man chasing his maiden victory in one of the coveted 'Big 4' events, but Schauffele showed terrific mental strength to get the job done by a single stroke, courtesy of a birdie on the last hole.

Afterwards, he offered a fascinating insight into what was going on in his head at various stages of what was an enthralling final day.

“Someone like me has pretty much tried everything, to be completely honest, that hasn't won in two years,” admitted the new World No.2, whose last win came at the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open.

“You try not to look at the leaderboards until the back nine, you try not to look at them early, you try not to look at them at all.

“Today I looked at them. I looked at them all day. I really wanted to feel everything. I wanted to address everything that I was feeling in the moment.”

On what was racing through his mind in the closing moments, he said: “I really did not want to go into a playoff with Bryson. Going up 18 with his length, it's not something that I was going to have a whole lot of fun with.

“If he tomahawks a draw off the water it's literally going to be like a driver, 9-iron maybe – you can ask him – 8-iron.”

After being comprehensively outplayed by Rory McIlroy the week prior, when the Northern Irishman overturned an overnight deficit to take the Wells Fargo title, Schauffele would have been wondering if history was about to repeat itself.

Viktor Hovland and DeChambeau made it a three-horse race down the stretch and Schauffele was forced to dig deep on more than one occasion, which made victory all the sweeter.

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele holes a nervy six-footer on the final hole to win his first Major title

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“I just kept telling myself I need to earn this, earn this and be in the moment, and I was able to do that,” said Schauffele, who faced a six-footer on the final hole to win – a putt that he wasn’t too convinced about.

“I was pretty nervous. I walked up, I saw a little left to right. I kept reading it, kept kind of panning,” he explained.

“Started to look right to left to me and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is not what I want for a winning putt. I ended up playing it straight. It did go left, caught the left side.

“When it lipped in, I don't really remember it lipping in, I just heard everyone roaring and I just looked up to the sky in relief.”

Not long after the final putt dropped for a 65, Schauffele was on the phone to his father, but he joked that the conversation became too emotional and he had to hang up.

“He was crying on the phone. It made me pretty emotional. I told him I had to hang up because I had to walk down,” said Schauffele, after claiming the Wananaker trophy. “I couldn't show up looking like the way I was.”

Describing his father as his mentor, he added: “My dad is referred to as the ogre, but he's a big teddy bear.

“Steve Stricker wins a tournament and he's crying. My dad is sitting there right on the couch crying with him. That's the kind of guy he is.”

Xander Schauffele dad

Xander Schauffele's father Stefan has played a huge role in his son's career 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite winning his first Major Championship and ridding himself of the ‘Best player never to have won a Major’ tag, Schauffele says there’s still just one player in the game that everyone has to chase.

“All of us are climbing this massive mountain. At the top of the mountain is Scottie Scheffler,” he said. “I won this today, but I'm still not that close to Scottie Scheffler in the big scheme of things.

“I got one good hook up there in the mountain up on that cliff, and I'm still climbing. I might have a beer up there on that side of the hill there and enjoy this, but it's not that hard to chase when someone is so far ahead of you.”

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.