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Xander Schauffele's balky back forces him to WD mid-round at Kapalua

January 06, 2023
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Xander Schauffele warms up on the range ahead of the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. After eight holes, he withdrew from the tournament due to a back injury.

Ben Jared

KAPALUA, Hawaii — One day after expressing his frustration with having to “powder-puff” carefully around the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort to protect his ailing back, Xander Schauffele decided to shut it down and withdrew on Friday from the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

The seven-time PGA Tour winner first encountered back problems last month at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished fourth, but he said that he experienced no discomfort in the interim between then and his arrival on Maui. On Monday, however, the pain resurfaced and grew progressively worse, forcing him to withdraw from the pro-am on Wednesday.

“If someone told me they were going to shoot me if I didn't finish this tournament, I would finish this tournament,” Schauffele said while sitting in the locker room next to his father Stefan. “But I really am worried about … it happened in Bahamas, same thing is happening a month later. I don't know what the hell it is, and I haven't gotten a scan yet and everyone's telling me, like, you need to chill out.

“I wanted to be stupid and kind of chug forward, but I got six people telling me to pack the hell up.”

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Schauffele is schedule to have an MRI back home in San Diego to try and figure out the cause of his back issues.

Andy Lyons

Schauffele, 29, the sixth-ranked player in the world, was one over par for the day and two under for the tournament when he withdrew after completing the par-3 eighth hole following a discussion with his caddie Austin Kaiser. He receives last-place unofficial earnings of $200,000 but won’t get FedEx Cup points.

The field at the $15 million “elevated” event at Kapalua is now 38 players.

“Austin told me on nine, ‘You know, we have a lot of tournaments coming up on the West Coast Swing, and it's a big swing for us. Are you going to look back and feel like really proud of yourself for like gutting it out and maybe hurting yourself more or should we pull out and be smart here because we have, you know, a long way to go?’ So, yeah, it kind of went like that.”

Winner in Maui in 2019 when he shot a closing 11-under 62, Schauffele opened with a three-under 70 on Thursday, a respectable effort considering his limitations. Nevertheless, he was none too happy to be handicapped getting around the Plantation Course at less than 100 percent and trailing a trio of leaders by six shots amid ideal scoring conditions that featured little wind and soft greens.

In five starts at Kapalua he has three top-five finishes