Xander Schauffele reveals to RSNG.com that whether in team events such as the Ryder Cup, or plotting an individual path in a PGA Tour event, having a reliable partner is vital to his success.
The 29-year-old says his best buddy on the course is American compatriot Patrick Cantlay, and they are equally strong cohorts away from the green…
RSNG What is it about the partnership between yourself and Patrick Cantlay that works?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE, PGA TOUR STAR “Any sporting friendship has to start with respect. You need to match up with a player who is like you, who is on your level, and who you can relate to.
“Patrick and I have had quite similar golfing journeys, we are in the same space, and age-wise we’re only six months apart [Xander is currently 29 and Patrick is 30]. We have similar interests and ambitions, but mostly we’re comfortable with whatever the other one does.
“Pat is a world-class golfer and it’s a privilege that I am able to call upon him as a playing partner for so many team events.”
RSNG When did you both first realize it was a link-up that could help each other’s game?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE “The first time we properly played together was in Australia for the Presidents Cup, in 2019. For me it’s really important to have a good feeling playing golf, and it can be easy to be put off by a playing partner who does things in different ways than you. You might be with someone talkative, when really you just want to focus; or someone very quiet when you want to open up and talk about the course.
“We kind of know what each other is thinking – it’s important in any relationship to know when to talk and when to be quiet, as my wife will tell you!”
RSNG What would you say are Patrick’s best qualities on and off the course?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE “On the course, Pat is such a calm and composed individual. No matter what the situation is, he’ll know the right shot to play, and that’s not as easy as it sounds.
“I take great confidence from that and his general play. Pat’s positive demeanor rubs off on me, allows me to take guidance from that, to slow my game where necessary, and even my breathing.”
A lot in golf is about removing as many negative or interrupting factors as possible
RSNG The performances you pull out when playing together are so strong, they must give you real confidence going into events?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE “When you’ve got a playing partner who you feel so comfortable and assured about, it gives you confidence. A lot in golf is about removing as many negative or interrupting factors as possible – mental doubt, the wind, the crowd perhaps, some tightness on the swing.
“You don’t want to add to that list by having a playing partner who doesn’t suit or complement your game, so when you get it right it does inspire confidence, sure.”
RSNG You mentioned the Presidents Cup in 2019 as the point you felt you wanted Patrick as a consistent team-mate, but did anything happen before that to make you think it was going to work?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE “Yeah, we did play together in college, so in Australia we were no strangers to each other. So, that most definitely helped us.
“But when you’ve got two absolute legends of the game and such great guys in Tiger Woods and Fred Couples as captains, and they put you together, you respect that decision. They knew what they were doing.
“It also helps that you play well together that first time and that’s obviously where the bonding begins. So, once you’ve got that mutual respect between you and your partner, that’s a massive foundation to build on.”
It’s not unknown for me to be second best to Pat on the course and he then hammers me at cards in the evening
RSNG What do you think it was that stood out for Fred and Tiger in choosing to pair you together?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE “I couldn’t say for sure, but my personal opinion is that they could see that our games matched up a lot – which they really do. That proved itself on the course.”
RSNG How much do you hang out away from competitive action?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE “We will hang out during events, and catch up outside of them too. Pat is a funny guy and keeps the spirits high for a lot of people, as many moments on the tour can be long and arduous.
“We’re both pretty humble, quite modest and calm, so we won’t make a big fuss of our lives away from the course.
“If we’re going to kick back properly we’ll have a game of cards and a drink. It’s not unknown for me to be second best to Pat on the course and he then hammers me at cards in the evening. It can be easy to start to dislike someone, but we share the fact we are both super-competitive… so there’s always a comeback on the cards!”
WHAT NEXT? Patrick Cantlay says his early serious injuries in golf have defined who he is today as a master of the game. Read RSNG.com’s exclusive interview with him here.