San Diego's Xander Schauffele entered the final round of the men’s golf tournament with a one-stroke lead on Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama. And while a few golfers made it close, it was Schauffele that walked away remaining in the lead, this time with gold around his neck.
The 27-year-old shot 4-under par in the final round, finishing the tournament 18-under. It was just enough to hold off Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini for the gold. A birdie on 17 broke a tie with Sabbatini and Schauffele parred on 18 to seal the victory as he joins Charles Sands as the only Americans to win Olympic gold in golf.
NBC 7’s Steven Luke caught up with Schauffele after his win.
“A little shook up and it was a wild finish for me. It may not look like it but I was burning inside and just really happy to pull through,” he said.
When asked where this moment ranks in terms of your career victories, he responded, “I don’t care what anyone else says, but this is my biggest one so far. I’m happy with it."
Schauffele, a Scripps Ranch High School alumn, entered the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the 5th-ranked golfer in the world and is joined by three teammates in the top 12 in Colin Morikawa (3), Justin Thomas (4) and Patrick Reed (12).
After high school, Schauffele stayed local and played for coach Ryan Donovan at San Diego State University. It didn't take him long to earn his PGA Tour card, and he quickly established himself as one of the game's bright young stars. A win at the 2017 Tour Championship made him the first rookie ever to achieve that feat, and helped his case for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
He's collected four PGA Tour wins, most recently the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions, but is still chasing his first Major Championship.
Schauffele wasn't on Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but this isn't his first time competing for his country. He helped the United States during the 2017 President's Cup, winning 3 points and losing 2 alongside partner Patrick Cantlay. Team USA beat Team International 16-14.