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July 5, 2018

Xander Schauffele

White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Q. Xander, defending champion. First one that you get to defend this year and Rookie of the Year. Tell me about going out there and all the stuff it entails and trying to just put it in perspective as just another day, another round of golf?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, it was a quiet morning. It was kind of nice. I know Aaron and Austin pretty well just from playing out here, and we had a relaxing day for the most part. We were feeding off each other, couple under here and there. It was just, you know, I finished the back nine, I think, 3-under. 4-under is a good start.

Q. Talk about the pairing, because Rookie of the Year and two guys that are basically probably one and two on the list right now for Rookie of the Year. I mean, that was a subtle little, hey, man, see what it takes to kind of get it done.
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, the tournaments always have fun pairing the guys, and I saw what they did there. I think it's really cool. They're both really good players, and I think if we can keep feeding off each other tomorrow, that would be awesome.

Q. With the thunderstorm and the rain last night, any thoughts this morning to be a little more aggressive than say in the Pro-Am?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Not really. The greens are still on the firmer side, I'd say. All the par-3s are coming with the long iron. You're not going to get that thing to stop at all, and you have to pick your spots with the wedges. So they were receptive. You weren't ripping balls back at any point.

Q. Well, 66, what are your thoughts after last year, you won it, and then you come back out and follow up with a good round.
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, I tried to get off to the best start. And I had to relive -- I was trying to rethink how I played last year to turn it all around and did that, and happy to finish with four.

Q. You had a stretch with a couple bogies in a row, and then you came back with birdies. How much did that help you?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, that's just mental being out here. The par-3s are hard holes. I think I hit 5, 4, 8, maybe another 5 into all of them. So you're going to make mistakes from 230 out. That was okay. The hole before was stupid, so, you know, it was nice to bounce back really quick with birdie and forget about all that.

Q. Did the rains help you from last night to soften things and make it scorable?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: The greens are still firm to me. I feel like they're still -- you're not ripping any wedges back too much. So I feel like it's fair. If you're coming out of the bunker, you're not hopping and stopping in bunker shots. It's still rolling out a lot. So the greens are really firm, and I guess the rain did help a touch.

Q. Did winning last year mean you come in more confident or feeling more pressure?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: You know, I feel like it's -- from my little experience, I feel like it's -- whichever way you want to look at it, at first I was a little nervous because I want to repeat so bad. Now I'm trying to think -- I did win here last year for whatever reason that was, I feel comfortable on this golf course, so I'm trying to turn my brain into that direction versus getting nervous.

Q. Xander, interesting pairing today. Rookie of the Year, and you were paired with perhaps the two leading candidates for this year's Rookie of the Year. Can you comment about that?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, it's really cool. As I said, tournaments always have fun making the pairings, and I did realize that when I saw the tee sheet. They're both really good guys, and I think we all feel comfortable around each other, so hopefully we can get it going tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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