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Masters 2024: The weird reason Xander Schauffele was 'the most nervous' he's ever been on Saturday

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Andrew Redington

AUGUSTA, Ga. — To say that Xander Schauffele has been "grinding" this week might be the understatement of the decade. It's been a non-stop, 1-800-GRIND-A-THON. Over the last 24 hours, in some impossibly-tough conditions at times, Schauffele has simply refused to miss a must-make par putt.

The most Houdini-like escape came at the par-4 18th on Saturday evening, when Schauffele pulled off a miraculous punch out from the woods down the right side that he had absolutely no business pulling off. At first glance, it looked like he would be fighting for bogey from where he was. When the dust settled, he had a halfway decent look at birdie from just off the back of the green.

"I told Austin [Kaiser, Schauffele's caddie] after I hit it, could be the best shot I ever hit in my life," Schauffele said.

Unfortunately, his next shot wouldn't even crack his top 100 ever, Schauffele putting it from off the back left portion of the green and racing it past the back right hole location. It left him with a 13-footer for par to post two under. About as nervy as it gets. He poured it right in the heart, securing a two-under 70 and keeping him in striking distance, five off the lead of Scottie Scheffler.

"That's why I was really happy to make that par putt to sort of pay off that iron shot," he said. "I had to aim at a tree and then try and cut it, and if I hit the tree it's going to come straight back to me, like back in the forest."

These first three days have provided a year's worth of way-too-tense shots for Schauffele and everybody else in the 2024 Masters field. Yet the most nervous the seven-time PGA Tour winner was all week was on the 15th hole, and it wasn't for a full swing shot or a 13-foot par putt.

No, Schauffele was nervous because of the internet rules sleuths who have come for both Hideki Matsuyama and Wyndham Clark on numerous occasions this year. Schauffele had pulled his drive down the left side and then took his second all the way over the trees, his ball coming to rest in the pine straw roughly 100 yards still from the hole. That's when the fans, and the cameras, surrounded his golf ball.

"On 15, that was a little bit more of a doctored situation for me," Schauffele said. "I had to take two twigs out from the ball, and everyone was staring at me and the cameras were there. I was feeling pretty nervous. Probably the most nervous I've been to be honest."

Schauffele proceeded with caution, and everything turned out fine. His third was another filthy escape shot, leaving him just off the back of the green. He trickled it down to four feet and, naturally, got out of there with his five. And people say he can't handle the pressure.

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