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January 4, 2020

Xander Schauffele

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Xander Schauffele into the interview room, our 54-hole leader at the Sentry Tournament of Champions following a 2-under par-71 today. If we can get some comments on your play.

XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Made my first couple bogeys today, which was nice and refreshing. It was a hard day. A little more tired than the previous two days, probably the hills are wetter and the course is playing longer than ever. It was a tricky one, but I got it back to -- I was 2-under, then back to even, then finished at 2-under. Overall nothing to really be too upset about.

JOHN BUSH: A battle of past champions tomorrow with Justin in that final group. Got a one-shot lead. Talk about your mindset going in.

XANDER SCHAUFFELE: It'll be fun. He's got so much firepower, and playing on that team together was a great way to become familiar with each other, and I think tomorrow will be fun. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Justin talked about how different the course is, especially in this weather. You talked about it yesterday. Is this course at all like it was last year? I know you talked about it yesterday, but one more day if you wouldn't mind reiterating.
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, it is -- it feels very different. I'm not used to -- I don't think anyone is used to balls plugging on downslopes or spinning back in the fairway and stuff like that. You can hit a worm burner drive and it's still going to catch the mud and plug. From that aspect, it's very different, and like I said yesterday, the greens are different. Like I said, there's just no memory to go back on on certain putts. They may look the same or you might be in a similar part of the green, but you're sort of taking a second look because you're like, last year this putt didn't move that much or vice versa. Like I said, it's all about adjusting, and fortunately we were able to do that a little bit down the back nine.

Q. Pretty sure I remember you saying that you wanted to be in this position leading and having a chance to close one out and that you needed to do it more. Now that you've done it, are you ready to try to win from in front?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: We'll find out tomorrow. Yeah, I think it's -- there's no complaints. I'm playing some good golf. It's really hard conditions. I think everyone feels like they're not getting everything they want out of their game, so it's sort of a battle of patience and what the course is willing to give you. And if ever once in a while you can squeeze in a spectacular shot, then you might edge everyone out. It'll be a fun day tomorrow, and we'll see how it goes.

Q. Is it harder not to have that thing to chase in front of you in terms of a player?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I'm used to chasing. I like chasing, and I'm used to it. I'll have to have some sort of number in mind or try and look at the pins tomorrow and the wind. I'm sure it's going to be the same, just more. You'll kind of know what the course is willing to give you. Looking at the pins and what the course is willing to give you, some of the locations are so different, so at no point -- sometimes it's stupid to try and force it and sometimes you can hit a hero shot and pull it off. The greens are still firm even though it's rained a lot, and yeah, it'll be a fun day tomorrow.

Q. With your new equipment, is that helping? And is there still a 62 out there like last year?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Man, I'd pay a lot to shoot 62 tomorrow, I'll tell you that much. Probably lap the field with a 62. I don't see it tomorrow unless -- even if they made the pins really easy, when it's blowing 25, 30 miles an hour, shooting 62 isn't really possible. But we're going to try our best, and if we do it, then I'll be stoked. And equipment-wise, yeah, I'd say I've made the right decisions. I have a lead going into Sunday, which is what my team and I always work on, and the new equipment seems to be sliding in the bag perfectly.

Q. You're comfortable in this position. When do you feel like you got comfortable in your TOUR career being in this position you're in?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: When do I feel like I'm not comfortable?

Q. At what point in your career did you start feeling comfortable being in this position?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I just fake it most of the time. I'm usually pretty uncomfortable. Probably after I won is when I took a deep breath and realized that I'll be here for at least two more years. And then fortunately I play some good golf when I'm comfortable and kind of built off of that. Certain experiences will either knock you down or build you up. So try to roll with the punches and kind of learn from everything I can do, whether it's good or bad.

Q. You love the competitive aspect of the sport, obviously. Is there any extra added factor given it's J.T. and he's one of those young guns that you grew up trying to put your name in the same headlines?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I mean, like I said, we've become more familiar. We just both hate losing. Pretty plain and simple. I mean, he talks openly about how he hates to lose. I don't know anyone else more competitive than I am. He'd probably argue the same way. We both want it, and fortunately we're pretty good friends and we're familiar with each other, and we know each other's games, and we both have enough firepower to sort of make some moves here and there. But like I said, it's going to be sort of what the course is willing to give when it's blowing 25 miles an hour.

Q. Just curious because we've talked a lot about mental aspects and attitude and so forth. The way you've been playing for quite a bit of time now, are you just better mentally than you are physically swinging the club and hitting it and so forth? Is that the difference in you?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Playing better? I think so. I think I've realized -- I think my game has gotten to a certain point, practice or no practice, where I have the certain ability to pull off shots. It's sort of more so I know what my bad shots are and why they're there. I know my tendencies, and I don't panic when I see an awful golf shot anymore. I will panic when I see it, but once I take a few breaths and walk up the hill, fortunately you don't tell he port to your next shot. You have about 250 yards to walk it off and figure it out. So I think I've learned how to use that time, and I know my tendencies in my own swing, having one swing coach my whole life, it's a benefit of having that. My dad and I, we talk over my tendencies and why things happen, so there's certain changes that we want to make to the swing, but it's not really -- you're not going to see me working on anything outrageous on the range just because we're aware that any change will be made in the gym at this point. I'm 26 years old, I've been swinging the same way for about 13 years now, and it's so hard to make any change. You see these guys making these ridiculous practice swings and then their swings look a little different.

It's good to exaggerate when you're trying to work on something, but for the most part, we just stay in our lane and try and pick apart -- just get a little bit better here and there, but for the most part even if it's really bad, we kind of know what to do to get it back on track.

Q. Guys want to be No. 1 in the world; do you? I don't want to say that would be a goal, but do you think you are No. 1 capable?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Absolutely. I think I'd quit if I didn't think I could be the best. I'm competitive, like I said before, and I have a lot of work to do to become No. 1, and I have a lot more tournaments to try and win to do that. Fortunately with how it works, there's a difference between being at No. 1 and sort of a dominant player, making your name known and -- I don't think I'm going to scare anyone. I feel like I'm a pretty approachable guy. I'm probably too nice. I don't know. I don't really care, either. But our goal is to be sort of a dominant player and having a staple name in the game and becoming that guy is sort of what my dad always says, we'll let your clubs talk, just let that be what makes you dominant, and that's sort of the path I'm trying to walk down, and seeing how it goes.

Q. How far away from that do you think you are?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I don't know. Sometimes it feels really far away. I thought I was going to lose my TOUR card a couple years back and ended up winning twice in a matter of two months. I've learned that -- I don't really think about it, honestly. It's all results at this point. Being No. 1 in the world at this point, winning tournaments is all result. It doesn't really matter at the end of the day. What we work on is what I try to do day to day, hour to hour, sort of focus on what I can control and the rest will take care of itself.

Q. When you talk about hating to lose, I'm curious, which loss did you hate the most and why?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, the British sucked. It was a really cool learning experience. Losing that one. I think it was -- I'm not surprised I lost it just because I was a rookie and I panicked and freaked out and did everything that I wasn't supposed to do, looking back on it now. I mean, it was really difficult conditions and I was playing really well and then all of a sudden I wasn't. That kind of goes to show where I was mentally and what I was capable of at the time.

But you know, like the Masters I can't be mad. I got 20-footer. I'm not mad at that. I barely finished second. That's how I look at it. I was lucky to finish second. The British, on the other hand, I don't know, I think I was like 5- or 6-over on the front nine, which is sort of disastrous compared to the rest of the field, especially the leaders, and if I just kind of weathered the storm better and had a better mindset, it could have looked a lot different.

But those are just things you look back on and kind of laugh just because it needs to happen in order for you to move on and learn as a player.

Q. I also wanted to ask you, not to play off how much you fake things in life, but how different do you think you are than what people see? In other words, are you more nervous than people might think looking at you? You talk about hating to lose. Do you think people watching on TV see that aspect? How much do you fake it?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Well, out here it's easy to -- I talk a lot about breathing and trying to control that, but the hills are so big here, you're kind of forced to take deep breaths and it's kind of hard to look nervous because usually you look tired. I'd say my dad and I worked hard on being the same person on and off the golf course. I think that was sort of something he hammered on me when I was a young man, and thankful for it now. I try not to be too bipolar or schizophrenic in terms of my attitude. I don't wear golf clothes when I go to dinner back at home but I'll wear them to the course when I have to be a professional, but for the most part, besides the clothes I wear, I think I have the same mentality and mindset when it comes to anything these days.

Q. Did you need that lesson at a young age?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I think it helped. Not to get too back in time, but yeah, I think as an individual growing up, golf wasn't always the coolest thing to play. In high school, in college, as a semi-pro or young man, I didn't tell anyone I really played golf when I was younger. I just didn't think it was cool. Now it's really cool obviously since we're out here walking in the sun, making money and doing what we love to do. But it was interesting for me as a young man to sort of realize me wanting to play professionally and what you have to sacrifice and how you have to behave to become a disciplined human being and to think straight every day and make the right decisions. I thought it was a really important thing that my dad and I went through, and it obviously sucked then when we had those arguments, but now like everything else, I can kind of fake it and laugh about it.

Q. What did you tell people you did if they asked?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: No one really thought much of it. Golf doesn't get a whole lot of attention here and there. But we're with the TOUR and us young players out here are working on trying to change that.

Q. When did you grow up enough to feel like it was cool to be a golfer publicly?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I don't know, you see yourself on TV, I guess that's kind of cool for the average kid or person. Not that it is cool or whatnot, but recognition is something that people in society kind of cling on to if you're into that kind of thing.

Q. What advice would you give I guess a tween or teen that maybe is into golf but is worried because some people are stronger than others at this age, my friends are telling me to play football or play something else?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Yeah, you just -- at the end of the day, it's all about being honest. I think if you're just honest to yourself, you've got to know what you want to do. It doesn't matter what someone tells you, obviously, when you're 13, 14, 15, what the cool kids are doing, what they're not doing. There's a lot of societal pressures on an individual, especially when you're younger, especially these days with social media and all that stuff. Fortunately I am a millennial but I feel like I missed that buzz that's running around now that I see. People are different these days.

Advice would just be to look yourself in the mirror every day and try to be as honest as possible, have a lot of positive self-talk. I do that now, fake or not. Self-talk is a real thing. I do believe in it severely. If you start talking down to yourself, it's going to look bad. So just kind of block out the haters and do your own thing.

Q. How would you make golf more cool?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: Shoot, if we could have another Tiger Woods come by in a few years, I think that would be awesome. Unfortunately he's still around and there isn't another one near. But I think maybe a couple Tiger Woods in one somebody would be pretty special.

JOHN BUSH: Thank you for your time and best of luck tomorrow.

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