Xander Schauffele sympathizes with Rory McIlroy after tough U.S. Open loss: ‘He needs some time away’

CROMWELL, Conn. — After winning the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club last month, Xander Schauffele went back to his rented house and positioned the Wanamaker Trophy in a spot where, when he woke up on Monday morning, the massive silver cup was the first thing he’d see. As the cliche goes, “To the winner go the spoils.”

Having won in Kentucky, the 30-year-old Schauffele now knows what it’s like to be a major champion. He already knew what it felt like to come up short on golf’s biggest stages.

With an outstanding all-around game, Schauffele has won an Olympic gold medal, a Tour Championship and eight PGA Tour events, and he has consistently been in the mix in major tournaments. But in 27 career previous attempts before winning at Valhalla, Schaufelle earned 12 top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the 2018 British Open and the 2019 Masters. The San Diego native is very familiar with what it feels like not to win.

So, after Rory McIlroy experienced a gut-wrenching loss to Bryson DeChambeau on Sunday evening at the U.S. Open, you might think he understands what McIlroy, who withdrew from this week’s Travelers Championship, is going through. And he does — to a point.

“It’s different for everyone. It’s hard for me to compare my losses to his losses,” Schauffele said on Tuesday afternoon at TPC River Highlands. “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 his way people are all over him. So, there’s a microscope on him, on why he didn’t win and things of that nature, he’s going to have to answer those questions at some point. And he will, because he always does.”

2024 U.S. Open
2024 U.S. Open

Xander Schauffele of the United States putts on the third green during a practice round prior to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort on June 11, 2024 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

A Sunday 68 moved Schauffele into a tie for seventh on Sunday evening at Pinehurst, and after he signed his card, he went back to his rented house and watched the tournament’s finish alongside his brother.

“It was pretty wild,” Schauffele said. “As a fan, I’m sure it was a very exciting, and for me it was just a crazy finish, for sure.”

McIlroy did not talk with the media after losing on Sunday night. He walked out of the clubhouse with his caddie, Harry Diamond, and his agents, and once his bags were in his car, he quickly drove off. He was criticized for doing so, but listening to Schauffele talk about what Rory must have been feeling at the time, you get the sense that he understands.

“As a competitor, all of us have had our highs and lows to a certain degree. It’s a tough spot. It for sure is a tough spot,” said Schauffele. “I’m sure he 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. It obviously didn’t go his way, and he’s just … he needs some time away to figure out what’s going on.”

What is going on for Xander is the continuation of a stretch of high-profile golf. He’s here at TPC River Highlands, where he won the Travelers Championship in 2022, to play in the final Signature Even of the season, and he has the Scottish Open, British Open and the Paris Olympics in August looming before the start of the PGA Tour Playoffs and the Presidents Cup in September.

He could win one or more of those events because his game is so solid and winning breeds confidence, but Schauffele might come up short. It’s a risk that anyone who competes has to take, and having experience with losing doesn’t take away the sting.

“I wear ’em pretty hard, but sometimes it’s nice to just get back on the horse and compete,” Schauffele said. “Like I said, everyone handles those situations differently, and it’s those times where you just lean on your team, and everyone around you that supports you that whole time, to give you that confidence to get back on the horse and keep chugging along.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek