Xander Schauffele battling cabin fever, 'feeling unemployed' during PGA Tour shutdown
Like the rest of us, Xander Schauffele is bored. Very, very bored.
That, of course, is the furthest thing from surprising. The coronavirus pandemic has quite literally impacted every person in this country, from fast- food workers to teachers to professional athletes with millions in career earnings.
More surprising: Xander Schauffele has a case of cabin fever, mainly because his cabin just ain’t that big.
“I don’t have the option to go out and practice,” he said Wednesday, taking a conference call with reporters from his two-bedroom, 2,000-square-footish condo in the San Diego area. California has closed all non-essential businesses, and Schauffele said officials showed up to private golf clubs to ensure that there was no under-the-radar golf being played.
“I’m trying to stay mentally fit, working out, but it’s been strange,” says the 26-year-old who is No. 12 in the World Rankings. "I’ve lost a sense of purpose a little in terms of work, feeling unemployed, with no date of us coming back.”
No date indeed. Shortly before the call, news broke that Wimbledon had been canceled—not postponed, but canceled.
Wimbledon was set to run from June 29 to July 12, which makes the PGA Tour’s target of returning to action at the Charles Schwab Challenge on May 21 seem optimistic at best, farcical at worst.
“I think all of us are in the same boat, and we’re all just trying to find ways to distract ourselves or stay mentally fit,” he said. “Just trying to keep my thoughts in line, realizing this is a tough time and it’s a necessary time for us to stay indoors, and we’re doing the right thing by staying indoors. Maybe it’s not really mentally fit, it’s mentally sane, I guess. I’m so used to being outdoors, and this is the polar opposite.”
With no restart in sight, Schauffele hasn’t touched a club since shooting a two-under 70 at the Players Championship on March 12, nearly three weeks ago. He loves the game, he said, and he’s always happy to go out and play so long as something’s on the line. But that’s not an option at present. As a response to courses closing, a number of Tour pros have manufactured ad-hoc setups at home to practice, be that an indoor simulator, home-made chipping areas or a good ol’ fashioned net in the backyard.
Schauffele’s problem is that he doesn’t have a backyard. He recently bought a gym setup that, he says, is sitting in the middle of his living room. He’s been meaning to buy a house—his caddie, Austin Kaiser, recently copped his—but hasn’t gotten around to it. So it’s been him, his girlfriend, and French bulldog Chewy hanging in the condo, along with occasional visits from his brother. Put differently: He’s following directions.
“I’m just trying to be a law-abiding citizen here and just do my part.”
Once life does return to semi-normalcy—whenever that may be—Schauffele will be looking to build on a solid-but-winless season thus far. He has two runner-up finishes, at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China and the Sentry Tournament of Champions and came into the Players with four straight finishes between T-14 and T-24.
“I feel like I’m at a state where I can pick up my clubs and play whenever,” Schauffele said. “It’d probably take two weeks for me to feel really confident, I guess, to not back down from anything. But if I had to go tee it up in a Tour event tomorrow, I think I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable overall. I’d have the belief that I could do it.”