Empathetic Schauffele: ‘Tough spot’ for McIlroy

Golf

Xander Schauffele can empathize with Rory McIlroy‘s decision to withdraw from this week’s Travelers Championship and take some time off after his collapse at the U.S. Open.

McIlroy missed two short putts over the final three holes Sunday and finished 1 stroke behind Bryson DeChambeau at Pinehurst No. 2. He quickly left the course without speaking to reporters and announced Monday that he’s stepping away from the game until next month’s Scottish Open.

“As a competitor, all of us have had our highs and lows to a certain degree. It’s a tough spot,” Schauffele, who won the PGA Championship in May, said when asked about McIlroy. “I’m sure him and his team are discussing what happened, and sometimes you just need to step away from it all and really try and be as objective as possible, because you’re very much in the moment there and it obviously didn’t go his way and he’s just, you know, he needs some time away to figure out what’s going on.”

McIlroy’s decade-long major drought will endure at least until the Open Championship in July. He acknowledged Monday that Sunday was “probably the toughest” day of his professional career but vowed to show resilience when he returns for the Scottish Open followed by The Open at Royal Troon.

“It’s different for everyone. It’s hard to for me to compare my losses to his losses,” Schauffele said. “I would say his, he’s under a bit more of a microscope. When things are going really well, people are all over him. And, unfortunately, when things don’t go your way, people are all over him.

“So, there’s a microscope on him on why he didn’t win and things of that nature. And he’s going to have to answer those questions at some point, and he will, because he always does. So, for me, I wear ’em pretty hard, but sometimes it’s nice to just get back on the horse and compete.”

Schauffele tied for seventh at the U.S. Open — the seventh top-10 in the past eight starts for the world’s No. 3-ranked player entering the final signature event of the year.

Schauffele also secured one of the four spots on Team USA for the Paris Olympics, where he will defend his gold medal come August.

“It’s super special,” Schauffele said. “It’s always an honor to represent your country in any given tournament or event, so it was a really cool thing I was able to share with my family after winning the gold medal, and qualifying was my first goal this year. It’s a very hard team to qualify for, as you guys have seen on this U.S. side.”

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