At this time last year, Xander Schavelli was on tears.
Won the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour. The following week, he won the JP McManus Pro-Am Award. He beat Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Ricky Fowler by 5 shots and newly minted US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick by 17.
When Schauffele debuted for Renaissance at the Genesis Scottish Open, his solid play continued. He won the tournament by a shot, for his fourth win in 12 months.
“It was probably one of the best months I’ve had in my career,” said Schavelli, who went to San Diego State University and exudes cool in Southern California.
He returned to Scotland this year a little cooler, but still ranked sixth in the world. He hasn’t won in a year, but he’s continued to play hard.
The following interview has been edited and condensed.
I was on a roll last year. What was that like?
I played Travelers, then a JP McManus Pro-Am in between, where I played really well, and then won the Scotsman. I was in a really good frame of mind. I was hitting as many shots as I wanted to hit, and hitting as many strokes as I wanted to. I felt like I was doing my best, and that was good enough to win. It was that sense of calm associated with really good golf.
How do you translate a win at River Highlands, a PGA Tour stadium course in which much of the land was moved to create the track, to the Renaissance Club, where architect Tom Doak took a more minimalist approach to the ground and topography?
At River Highlands you go from greens that are slower and have a lot of break to greens that are faster and more refined. With the Renaissance, it will be a little more relaxed River Heights [home to the Travelers] with all its features. The only thing that can translate is confidence.
Let’s talk about scoring conditions. How do you adjust from going from plus 2 in the US Open, (when minus 6 won it), to minus 19 in Travelers and minus 7 in the Scottish Open?
It’s definitely something you take into consideration before the week starts when you come to the different greens. It’s the mentality. In River Highlands, when you make six or seven classes in a row, you have to be patient because you know other players are catching birds. You have to outpace the course every week. This is something that comes into play. You have to be patient. Don’t always go your way. On the outside you sometimes feel bad about being equal. But then you realize that equality will win.
She hit a record 62 in the opening round of this year’s US Open at Los Angeles Country Club and 70 the next. Every golfer has done the equivalent of it. How was it for you?
The number 62 at that club was definitely not something you expected. It was a setup thing. Over two rounds there were a lot of low scores. Ricky [Fowler] And I’m doing it early on making people feel it’s there. The most impressive round was shooting Tommy Fleetwood’s 63 on Sunday. I was about to start, but there wasn’t a single run. I did not adjust accordingly. It got off to a brisk start, but then started leaking oil.
What is your plan to defend in this year’s Scottish Open?
I’m close to good. I was scratching the surface. When I come to a site where I play well, I try not to think too much about whether or not I won last year. I’m excited to be back here. I usually like to play challenging golf courses. But I made myself believe I could play well on any property.