Hometown hopeful Schauffele hopes for major breakthrough

·3-min read
Sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele, who grew up down the road from Torrey Pines, seeks his first major title at the US Open, which tees off Thursday on the oceanside course

Sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele was just hoping to play in the 121st US Open when it was awarded to Torrey Pines, only a few miles from where he grew up.

But after eight top-10 finishes in 16 major starts, including top-six efforts in the past four US Opens, he's setting his sights a bit higher.

"My dad and I were sitting on the couch, and we were like, 'Hey, we need to do whatever we can to get into this tournament,'" Schauffele said Tuesday.

"Here we are sitting here trying to win the thing. Maybe I didn't set lofty enough goals seven years ago, but they're definitely lofty enough now."

Schauffele, who will be battling to hang onto the final berth on the US Olympic team, has been living the dream since sharing fifth at the 2017 US Open in his major debut.

"I dreamed my career would look like this. To actually do it is something else," Schauffele said. "This is what I've dreamed of doing and it's pretty cool to sit here and do it."

Schauffele shared second at the US PGA Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January and was a runner-up the following week at Phoenix. He also shared third at the Masters.

The 27-year-old from San Diego is a hometown favorite whose local hero status is overshadowed this week by Phil Mickelson, trying to complete a career Grand Slam at age 51 after winning last month's PGA Championship.

Schauffele will be paired alongside left-hander Mickelson, a six-time major winner, and Max Homa for the first two rounds, ensuring a huge focus from a crowd of about 8,000 spectators.

"I figured I'd be playing with Phil. It's a really good pairing," said Schauffele. "It's going to be nice to play with a recent major champ. I played with Phil at the Farmers already. We've had our fair share of goes around this property together.

"It will make us feel more comfortable... Us playing together will make our pairing more enjoyable just because we're more familiar."

Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and defending US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau own the top US Olympic berths with Schauffele fourth and next week's rankings deciding the final squad.

Schauffele is focused on the US Open and will let the Olympics, not even a childhood dream, happen if it happens.

"Obviously representing your country is a huge honor," he said. "But for right now this is the most important thing to me."

Schauffele played 64 holes at Torrey Pines from Wednesday through Saturday last week.

"I'm trying to get as much local knowledge as I can just by playing a lot," he said.

He has learned the dense rough offers good and bad lies and the course is evolving with every day.

"It's changing each and every night," Schauffele said. "Much firmer and faster greens today. Rough is getting longer every day as well. With the heat wave coming through, I'm assuming the greens will get really firm."

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