Xander Schauffele Wins Incredible Olympic Gold Medal

Xander Schauffele Wins Incredible Olympic Gold Medal

Xander Schauffele Gold Olympics
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Xander Schauffele produced a birdie and an outstanding up-and-down over the last two holes to hold off Rory Sabbatini and claim Olympic gold by just a single shot.

Xander Schauffele Wins Incredible Olympic Gold Medal

In a hugely dramatic final round, the American produced a 67 to win by just a single shot from Rory Sabbatini, who, around an hour and a half earlier, had shot an Olympic record score of 61. (opens in new tab)

With Schauffele (opens in new tab) and Sabbatini securing the gold and silver, it would be a seven man playoff for the bronze, with Rory McIlroy (opens in new tab), Paul Casey (opens in new tab), Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama (opens in new tab), Sebastián Muñoz, C.T. Pan and Mito Pereira (opens in new tab) vying for the final medal.

In an already tense day, it was C.T Pan (opens in new tab) who overcame the challengers, producing a par at the fourth playoff hole to claim the bronze for Team Chinese Taipei.

Xander Schauffele Gold Olympics

Schauffele rolls in the winning putt on the 18th green. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

But the day was all about Schauffele, who said after his round: "It feels good. For me I wanted this for my Dad more than anything. I tried to represent my country, and then my family. It was really fun."

His Dad, Stefan, was an aspiring decathlete in Germany. However, 40 years ago a drunk driver slammed into his car head-on near Weisbaden. On impact, a shard of glass wedged in his left eye, and six operations couldn’t save it. Taking two years away from his sport, he would lose sight in his eye, ending his Olympic dream.

The victory was, therefore, an incredibly emotional one for the Schauffele family, but now they have that illusive gold medal.

Starting the final round just one shot ahead, he would birdie the opening two holes, with further birdies at the 5th and 8th putting him two clear going into the back nine.

As the round wore on, it was Slovakian, Sabbatini, who was emerging as his nearest challenger, with a five-under par front nine cutting down his seven shot deficit to the overnight leader.

Xander Schauffele Gold Olympics

Sabbatini had started the final round seven shots back of Shauffele. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

In search of his first victory since the 2011 Honda Classic, he would produce six birdies and a single bogey over the back nine to secure a 10-under-par 61, and a new Olympic scoring record.

With Sabbatini in the clubhouse at 17-under-par, he would endure a long wait as the leaders played out their back nine.

It seemed that the pressure was beginning to show for Schauffele, as he bogeyed one of the easiest holes on the course, the par-5 14th.

Now in a share of the gold medal position, the American would need to find a birdie over the subsequent final holes to avoid a playoff with the Slovak.

Xander Schauffele Gold Olympics

Schauffele rolls in his putt for birdie on the 17th green. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

As the round drew to its finale, the 27-year-old would find his birdie at the driveable par-4 17th, splashing out from the greenside bunker, he would knock in his short putt to have a one shot advantage down the last.

There was still time for yet more drama though! With the American's drive down the last being pushed to the right, he would be blocked out with his second, forcing him into a chip out down the fairway.

Leaving himself 100-yards in, Schauffele demonstrated his superb wedge play yet again. With the ball pitching past the hole, it would spin back to under three-feet, a huge moment under pressure.

Rolling the par putt in, the American would finally complete his and his Father's Olympic dream of a gold medal.

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Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x