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Xander Schauffele got to Sentry Tournament of Champions because of COVID-19; then he got it

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Seven days before Christmas, Xander Schauffele got the worst present ever.

He tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s a bit scary just because there’s so much unknown facts about the whole COVID process,” Schauffele said Tuesday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. “Just happy to be here and slowly getting my strength back.”

Schauffele isn’t at full strength and his form isn’t at its best because of the lack of preparation due to COVID-19. But he loves the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii, and can call up good vibes as he won here in 2019 and lost in a three-man playoff last year. Plus, he toppled COVID-19 and is in the Aloha State playing again.

Schauffele was at a Callaway photo shoot in the San Diego area on the 16th with Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm when he received a text from his girlfriend that said she had tested positive for COVID-19.

“It was a bit of a scare at the photo shoot for everyone,” he said.

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Schauffele then self-quarantined in a hotel for two days but then woke up “sick as a dog and dragged myself to the clinic, tested positive,” and started a 10-day quarantine at his condo, he said.

The world No. 6 was with his girlfriend and two dogs. Mostly he was fatigued so the man who basically lives day-by-day started living hour-by-hour.

“The first four days were very much on the couch and in bed,” he said. “I live in a 2,000 square-foot condo, so it’s not like we have a whole lot of space to sort of stretch out or run around. But the first four days were bad.

“A lot of Call of Duty. Watched some Hulu movies, started watching Fargo.”

His brother, who lives just six miles from Schauffele, would drop off food and water and take the dogs for walks. Still, as Schauffele slowly healed, he got antsy.

“Those last three days were really hard for me, because I just wanted to go out and golf and kind of get ready,” he said.

His quarantine ended in the 29th and he played his first golf on the first day of the new year. He has played nine holes each of his first two days in the 50th state.

“Minimal golf for me for the most part, which sucks, but it’s nice to be playing again,” he said.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay during a practice round prior to the Sentry Tournament Of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 04, 2021 in Kapalua, Hawaii. (Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

While he’s done with quarantining, Schauffele still is in a bit of a quandary on the island of Maui. While he had a solid 2020 – 18 top-25s in 20 starts, including six top-5s, three of which were runner-up finishes – he didn’t win. And the tournament is called the Tournament of Champions, after all.

But because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which silenced the PGA Tour for 13 weeks, players who made it to East Lake in Atlanta for The Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs finale, became eligible for this year’s Tournament of Champions. The 42 players in the field marks the largest in tournament history.

“Officially, yes, it is very strange,” Schauffele said. “I joked, I got COVID and the reason I am here is because of COVID, so there’s always a couple ways to look at it. But, yes, it is very strange to play in a Tournament of Champions without an official win.”

Tempering the strangeness a bit is that while he didn’t get the official win, Schauffele did shoot the lowest total in the Tour Championship but finished second to Dustin Johnson due to the staggered scoring format.

And getting over COVID-19 is a victory.

Schauffele hopes his strength continues to return by the day and along with it some good form. He said while he “always plays well here,” he might have to rely more on his recall of the tournament than normally he would.

“I’m going to have to fall back on good memories,” he said. “I tried to walk up a few holes today just as a test. Definitely not in great shape, in all honesty. I took like three weeks off and then started golfing for like four or five days and then got COVID and had to quarantine for 10 days.

“So kind of in a weird place physically, I should say. But mentally, I can fake it until I make it.”

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/01/05/xander-schauffele-covid-19-sentry-tournament-champions/

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