Xander Schauffele is among those who’ve had the most success at the WM Phoenix Open without a win.
In five career trips to TPC Scottsdale, the X Man has fared no worse than T-17th (68-67-66-72) in his debut in 2018 and has been top three the last two years.
In 2019, he took T-10th (67-72-67-68) and followed with T-16th (67-67-66-74) the next year.
Schauffele really zeroed in on a chance to win the trophy the last couple of years.
In 2021, the Californian opened in 66-64-65 to take the 54-hole lead. Despite an even-par 71, which is usually a death sentence if you aren’t in red figures all four days, Schauffele was in it to the end and finished just one shot out of a playoff.
He got back on the horse in 2022 with rounds of 67-65-69-68 to once again finish a shot out of extra holes. Schauffele led the field in greens in regulation (87.5%) and was 4-for-4 in sand saves. He was also first in strokes gained tee to green (13.141) but was a negative on the greens.
The bunker play was no fluke. He was second on the PGA Tour last season in sand saves (64.95%).
Schauffele is far from an electric factory out on the golf course, but he’s far from a villain. He should have enough goodwill to avoid too much scrutiny from the rowdy fans on 16 this week.
"“No, it’s like white noise. I think if you sign up for this tournament you kind of know what you’re going to get,” Schauffele was transcribed by ASAP Sports last year. “As long as they’re embracing you and you’re embracing them, it’s all good.”"
Schauffele comes to Arizona with a week of rest after taking T-13th at the previous designated event on the PGA Tour, the Farmers Insurance Open.
The 29-year-old had to pull out of the season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions with a back injury. It appears that may have been more of a precautionary move as he took T-3rd in his first start back a couple weeks later at The American Express.
Last season, Schauffele ranked 39th or better in every SG category. He was seventh in approach per round (.701) to help him finish eighth in total SG (1.652).
He was also ninth in birdie average (4.32), which is key given the relatively benign conditions expected at the WM Phoenix Open.