Weekly Recap: X Marks the Spot

Weekly Recap: X Marks the Spot

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

This time, no one can say "yeah, but" to Xander Schauffele. No one can say, "yeah, but it wasn't a real PGA Tour event," or "yeah, but it was a team event," or "yeah, but it wasn't a full-field event" – or even "yeah, but being a 72-hole aggregate winner doesn't count."

Schauffele ended a long winless drought Sunday at the Travelers Championship after leader Sahith Theegala agonizingly double-bogeyed the 72nd hole.

That might open the door for another "yeah, but" for Schauffele, but that would just be nit-picking.

Few top golfers have had a more confounding relationship with winning than Schauffele.

For most of us, the Travelers win will be viewed as Schauffele's first "real" victory in over three years, since capturing the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Since then, he has won the 2020 Olympics, finished with the best aggregate at the 2020 staggered-start TOUR Championship and then earlier this year won the Zurich Classic team event with Patrick Cantlay.

Even before all that, Schauffele's wins, while quite legitimate, were a bit quirky. Going backwards, he won the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions in a strong but limited field, the 2017 TOUR Championship – a very strong but very limited field – and the old Greenbrier tournament in 2017 for his maiden Tour win.

That means that Sunday's Travelers was only the second time one of the game's very best players has won a full-field, "regular" tournament.

Schauffele had fallen to 15th in the world rankings but this

This time, no one can say "yeah, but" to Xander Schauffele. No one can say, "yeah, but it wasn't a real PGA Tour event," or "yeah, but it was a team event," or "yeah, but it wasn't a full-field event" – or even "yeah, but being a 72-hole aggregate winner doesn't count."

Schauffele ended a long winless drought Sunday at the Travelers Championship after leader Sahith Theegala agonizingly double-bogeyed the 72nd hole.

That might open the door for another "yeah, but" for Schauffele, but that would just be nit-picking.

Few top golfers have had a more confounding relationship with winning than Schauffele.

For most of us, the Travelers win will be viewed as Schauffele's first "real" victory in over three years, since capturing the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Since then, he has won the 2020 Olympics, finished with the best aggregate at the 2020 staggered-start TOUR Championship and then earlier this year won the Zurich Classic team event with Patrick Cantlay.

Even before all that, Schauffele's wins, while quite legitimate, were a bit quirky. Going backwards, he won the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions in a strong but limited field, the 2017 TOUR Championship – a very strong but very limited field – and the old Greenbrier tournament in 2017 for his maiden Tour win.

That means that Sunday's Travelers was only the second time one of the game's very best players has won a full-field, "regular" tournament.

Schauffele had fallen to 15th in the world rankings but this victory moved him back to 11th. He'd been able to stay inside the top 10 for years because he had gotten some gifts from the OWGR and also performed exceptionally well in the majors – without winning, of course.

Statistically, he had been playing well but wasn't seeing corresponding results on the leaderboard. In picking him to win last week's U.S. Open, we noted that he was playing better than he was scoring. It didn't pan out at the Open but it did one week later.

He also has committed some big-time mistakes at critical moments, something that top golfers can't do with any regularity yet stay. Finding the water late on Sunday last year at Phoenix and then the Masters 
come to mind.

He also gave up the lead at the Travelers but was fortunate to have Theegala give it back.

So there was/is still something there that's blocking more wins. He's too good physically not have won more.

Really, Schauffele is talented enough to be a top-5 golfer. He does not get enough credit for being an exceptional driver – maybe not the longest but plenty long enough and very accurate. There is no real weakness in his game. Except for coming up short far too often for an elite guy.

You would think that now, finally getting over the hump, would erase those concerns if they were in Schauffele's consciousness.

If so, he could win again, and soon. Maybe even his first major in two weeks.

MONDAY BACKSPIN

Sahith Theegala
Theegala had to absorb a big-time body blow on the 18th hole on Sunday – self-inflicted, of course, but it was still enormously painful. This was his second near-miss derailed by an unforced error, the other coming at Phoenix back in February. The rookie has clearly shown he belongs, though he's not at the level to avoid many bad weeks. In other words, consistency. But Theegala did leap to a career-best No. 66 in the OWGR.

J.T. Poston
Poston is an example of lot of guys on the PGA Tour these days who use a few good weeks to make their entire year. He tied for second, one of three great finishes he's had in 2022 alongside more than 10 poor ones – he's missed seven of 16 cuts. Poston's card for next season is secure at 66th in FedExCup Standings, plus he moved back inside the top 100 of the OWGR at No. 99.

Michael Thorbjornsen
We saw the 20-year-old Stanford junior two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, where the New Englander drew comparisons to Francis Ouimet, Except he missed the cut. Thorbjornsen really contended for the Travelers title in just his third PGA Tour event, but ultimately two back-nine bogeys relegated him to solo fourth. This top-10 gets him into this week's John Deere Classic, but there was no word whether he would take advantage of the opportunity. Truthfully, the Deere could use this dynamic youngster.
 
Chesson Hadley
Hadley began 2019 inside the top 70 in the world but had plummeted well into the 500s as his game fell off the rails. He's had only three top-10s in the last three and a half years, the latest being his solo fifth at the Travelers. It was a wonderful week for the veteran, but it moved him only to 160th in the FedEx Cup standings and he has a lot more work to do just to crack the top-125.

Keith Mitchell
Two top-10s in a row, five on the year, after this tie for sixth. Just a great season all around, and now up to a career-high 54th in the world.

Kevin Kisner
Kisner missed five cuts in a row so he naturally tied for sixth at the Travelers. Golf, it's a tough game to figure out.

Nick Hardy
An absolutely brutal 2022 is suddenly looking a lot better for Hardy, who tied for eighth a week after tying for 14th at the U.S. Open. And now he heads to the John Deere, where as a local product he's set for a full media session on Tuesday.

Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler has now gone six whole tournaments without a win. This is what his bad weeks look like now: T13.

Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay had a chance to win as part of the final pairing with Schauffele. But he imploded with nine bogeys plus a double bogey for a 76 that dropped him into a tie for 13th. He had only three pars on the day in an utterly horrible round.

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy opened with a 62 but clearly didn't have his best stuff as he fell well off the pace on Friday and Saturday. Still, he showed his heart with a Sunday 67 to tie for 19th heading into a much-needed week off.

Harris English
English made the cut for the second straight week, showing his surgically repaired hip is up to the rigors of back-to-backs on the Tour. He tied for 19th in his title defense.

Chris Gotterup
The recent Oklahoma grad has now made two straight cuts after turning pro. This tie for 35th follows a T43 at the U.S. Open, and things are looking bright for Gotterup.

Davis Riley
Riley continued his good stretch with three rounds in the 60s before faltering on Sunday with a 74 to tumble down the leaderboard. Afterward, he withdrew from this week's John Deere. It was a difficult decision – he could've secured a spot at the upcoming Open Championship with a good week – but taking a breather was probably the smarter play for the rest of the season.

Morgan Hoffmann
Hoffman continued his remarkable comeback from muscular dystrophy with his first made cut in three starts. In on a sponsor invite after his medical extension expired, he tied for 68th. It's a small step, but a huge one for Hoffmann. As of now we don't know when we'll see him again but we'll be watching.

Mito Pereira
Pereira continued to play well after his crushing PGA Championship. That was a great sign. But he missed the cut at the U.S. Open last week and now at the Travelers. He played six times in seven weeks and it may just be a case of tiredness. Pereira will take this week off to recharge but there's always a chance he's just spent as we move toward the end of a long season.

Sam Burns
After fading on Sunday at the U.S. Open, Burns missed the cut at the Travelers. It was his sixth start in seven weeks. Presumably, he just needs a week off before jumping back in for the Scottish Open and Open Championship.

Jordan Spieth
Spieth has had three excellent results in 16 starts in 2022 – a win and two runners-up. The other 13? Meh. Most top guys play consistently well without so many highs and lows but not Spieth right now. He missed the cut at the Travelers.

Maverick McNealy
McNealy didn't miss a cut all of 2022 before it happened at Colonial. Now, after taking four weeks off, he missed again at the Travelers. He'll play the John Deere this week and another MC in a very weak field would be a concerning sign that his game has somehow fallen off from earlier in the year.

Cole Hammer
The former college star from Texas made his pro PGA Tour debut and missed the cut by five strokes, a week after missing the cut at a Korn Ferry event. Hammer is not in the field at the John Deere this week. With the PGA Tour season winding down he may have to get reps on the KF Tour.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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