Xander Schauffele said he might be tossing and turning a bit, but he’d sleep OK after coming so close to another Green Jacket at the Masters. The American, who trailed Hideki Matsuyama by four strokes entering the final day, recovered from a horror start with four straight back nine birdies to move to within two strokes of the leader standing on the 16th tee.
Looking to turn the screw, the 27-year old went all out attack on the short par-3 but mis-judged the wind as his ball came up short and trickled into a watery grave. He made triple bogey before signing for an even par-72; Schauffele sharing third alongside Jordan Spieth, one place worse than his share of second at Augusta in 2019.
“If you look at my career, you could call it a big ball of scar tissue with a bunch of second places. I don’t look at it that way. I don’t think my team looks at it that way. So I’ll sleep on it,” Schauffele said. “I hit a good shot. I committed to it. It turned out bad. I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I might be tossing and turning, but I’ll be okay.”
As for his decision to take on the flag on 16 and not play right for the slope to take his ball to the hole, Schauffele added:
“I was coming in hot. I was feeling good. Hideki surprisingly went for the green on 15. I felt like he gave me a little bit of hope there, and maybe a little hyper-aggressive there on 16. I’ve been told so many things by so many veterans. Play the winds you feel. Austin and I, it was 184, we felt down cut at the moment. I hit an 8 iron, and I flushed it. It was not down cut. Then on my drop with a 9 iron, it seemed like it went downwind almost.
“That’s the hard part about winning out here. I think maybe I could try and hit a different shot there, maybe left to right instead of right to left, which I’m more comfortable with, and that’s definitely going to go in the memory bank.”
“I hit a perfect shot,” he maintained. “I told Austin [caddie] I flushed it, which makes it even worse. We can share the misery together. I fought hard. It was a messy start. Hideki was robot-like for 13 holes, didn’t make a mistake. I felt like I gave him a little bit of run and a little bit of excitement to the tournament there at the end. Unfortunately, hit it in the drink there.”
As for his opponent, with whom Schauffele joked in Japanese during their moving day round together, the American could appreciate the burden of expectation that weighs heavy on Hideki’s head and casting aside his own disappointment, was delighted to see Matsuyama claim a first Green Jacket for Japan.
“No one really wants to talk about how much pressure is on him,” said Schauffele. “You look at the media that follows him. You look at what he’s done in his career. He’s a top ranked player with a ton of pressure on him, and that’s the hardest way to play. He’s able to do it, and he’s the first countryman to win the tournament, a major championship.
“Everyone was hoping and thought he was going to win one a long time ago, and he kind of lost a little bit of form. I know his team relatively well, and he kept working hard through all of it. So big kudos to him and his team. I’m sure a lot of people are having some beers over there.”
Matsuyama Masters Augusta + Is the Irish Open in doubt?
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