Before September, Xander Schauffele was only known by diehard golf followers, despite having earned one prior PGA Tour victory. The 2017 Tour Championship changed that – with his surprise win vaulting the San Diego native to become a household name even to casual fans.
Schauffele was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year on Tuesday, beating out Wesley Bryan, Patrick Cantlay, Mackenzie Hughes and Grayson Murray. It was a no-brainer, a deserving honor for the player who was one of only six multiple time winners in 2016-17. The other names: Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Marc Leishman. That’s good company.
A rookie season to remember.
FINAL-ROUND SCORING 😳
Rounds under par: 14 of 18 pic.twitter.com/5i687fwE7U
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 3, 2017
Voting was conducted by PGA Tour members with at least 15 official money events played last season. Schauffele becomes the fourth member of the graduating class of 2011 to win Rookie of the Year, joining Jordan Spieth (2013), Daniel Berger (2015) and Emiliano Grillo (2016).
The growth of the 23-year-old was on display throughout the 2016-17 schedule. Schauffele flashed signs of greatness early on with a fifth-place finish in his fourth career Tour event, but then fell into a slump at the beginning of 2017 with missed cuts in four of his first five starts.
In June, he turned his season around. A top-five showing at the U.S. Open helped fuel his Greenbrier Classic victory one month later, though at golf’s final major, PGA Championship, it appeared Schauffele’s odds at Rookie of the Year were bleak after shooting 81 in his second round.
— TaylorMade Golf (@TaylorMadeGolf) October 3, 2017
However, Schauffele did what he had to do in order to reach the final tournament of the calendar, staying within the FedEx Cup top-tier. Who would’ve thought his final position in the rankings would be third?
Expectations will be high for Schauffele for the upcoming season, and rightfully so. He possesses the game to compete at the top of many leaderboards, so don’t expect a sophomore slump.