KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) – Olympic champion Xander Schauffele did not bring his gold medal from the Tokyo Games to the Ryder Cup, suggesting something won in an individual event has no place at a team competition.
The American Ryder Cup rookie, whose triumph at the Olympics in August marked the biggest win of his career, felt his medal would distract from the task at hand.
“It’s too individual. It’s about the team this week, so it wasn’t going to make an appearance,” Schauffele told reporters on Wednesday at Whistling Straits, where play begins on Friday.
“I don’t even know where it is. I think my mom might have it back home, unless my dad secretly has it on him out here.”
While Schauffele will be making his Ryder Cup debut on a course he has never competed on, he does have a knack for upping his game at big events with six top-five finishes in the majors, including a share of third at this year’s Masters.
Schauffele also said the U.S. team’s recent visit to Whistling Straits, a links-style layout sculpted along two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, went a long way in helping him feel more comfortable going into the biennial match against Europe.
“We came out early, about a week ago, to sort of get comfortable, and I think that did help me sort of not feel like a rookie,” said world number five Schauffele.
“So small things like that make you feel very comfortable. It worked for me. It was nice to know where the first tee was, it was nice to know where to go, it was nice to know where the locker room and sort of the team cubby was. I feel like in that sense it made me feel good arriving on the property.”
American-born Schauffele, 27, has a diverse family heritage — his dad and brother were born in Stuttgart while his mother was born in Taiwan and grew up in Japan.
“I feel very American. I just feel like I’ve been exposed to a lot of other cultures so I understand them very well,” said Schauffele.
“I think my dad is just rooting for me. I don’t think you’ll catch him saying he’s rooting for Europe at any point, but let me know if he does.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)