Xander Schauffele is predicting next week’s 44th hosting of the Ryder Cup in Rome to be ‘dog fight’.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old Schauffele will be making his second straight appearance in a USA team having played in four matches two years ago at Whistling Straits, winning three and losing the opening match of the Sunday Singles to Rory McIlroy.
It was an impressive Ryder Cup baptism for Schauffele to be undefeated in his two matches on day one and also his Saturday morning Foursomes on day two.
However with the world getting back to normal post COVID and European fans surely to saturate the grandstands and fairways in Rome, in stark contrast to a near nil presence along the shores of Lake Michigan two years ago, the reigning Olympic Gold Medal winning American is hoping the Stars and Stripes can win the Italian dog-fight, and secure what would be a first win on European soil in 30-years.
“If you look at the match-up of both sides, it’s going to be incredible”, said Schauffele in speaking with the Golf Channel.
“The average of both sides, I think, so it’s going to be a dog fight no matter what. It will be a tough one. I am very excited to be going over to Rome, and it seems like everyone is super fired-up to compete and play in front of the European fans.
“So, we’ll see who gets the best of who”.
And if there is one guy Schauffele says who can get the USA side fired-up it’s Justin Thomas.
“JT is a dog and he fights”, said Schauffele.
“We have a few on our team that fight and JT is definitely ….. I’ve heard people call me an emotional leader … we need more like him on our team. We have a lot of stoic or calm guys that will push through certain points at certain points in the matches but he is the guy who will get the crowd involved. He is the guy who can get the whole place charged-up so that it will feed back down into our team.
“So, I am not very surprised JT was picked, and when you look at his record of 6 wins, two halves and just one loss it seemed like a no-brainer to pick him”.
And we all recall the great photograph of Schauffele from two years ago Whistling Straits chomping on his victory cigar which prompted him being asked if he was taking a cigar with him or will he wait to buy one in Rome.
“I can’t be telling you that kind of stuff”, he laughed.
“The cigars are only for celebrating, so first things first”.