Xander ScHotele wins gold in Olympic golf event: “Just in shock”
KAWAGOE, Japan – Stefan ScHotele worked hard to position himself to see his son win a gold medal. The already tight quarters outside the rope line had swelled, but not with the fans. Hundreds of Japanese volunteers faithfully followed their native son, Hideki Matsuyama, and they all obscured Stefan’s path.
Sc Chaudele jumped under a rope in a fenced area, then came back around the stand. He had been told that he could not walk around the 18th green, but stuck between a grandstand and a reception tent. His nickname is Ogre, but Shrek is nowhere near as nimble. He stormed past the Korda sisters, who were sitting together on the grass. Then passed Maria Fassi and Team Mexico. He stopped to watch his 27-year-old son, Xander, strike perhaps the biggest blow of his life, a 98-yard corner that receded about 15 feet, leaving a 4-footer for the gold. Stefan was on the move again.
Swaying and swaying through the crowd in those fanless Olympics, ScHotele circled the green and eventually reached a fenced area where he has been authorized. At that point, the show had stuck a camera to his face. Any reaction will do, right? The only person who moves less than Alex is his father, who has been his swing trainer throughout his life. He promises never to applaud. “I am the difference between a spectator and a observer, he said on Saturday. “It would be like clapping for yourself.” When the putt fell, the son exhaled – “Just in shock,” he would later say – and immediately thought of his father. They kissed a few moments later without saying much. Just knowing smiles. We did it.
It is impossible to tell the story of Xander ScHotele without mentioning his father, although the latter would prefer this story to be entirely about the progress of the former. Stefan was an Olympic prospect from Germany, in the decathlon. During his training for the 1988 Olympics, a drunk driver crashed into Stefan’s vehicle, leaving him seriously injured and blind in his left eye. When he watches Alex play from a distance, it’s always through a monocular.
In the final round of the Olympics, watching Xander from afar was the way to do it. The closer you got, the more volunteers swarmed. And there was too much going on all over the golf course. Rory Sabbatini, playing for Slovakia, shot the week’s round of seven groups ahead of ScHotele, 61 with 10 birdies, one holed eagle and two bogeys. The worst Sabbatini swing of the day led to a bogey in 16 and made him curse himself and look at the sky. “I got what I deserved,” Sabbatini said at the time. His birdie-birdie finish guaranteed him a silver medal. Seven – seven! – others soared in the 15 or 16 under zone, and all of them finished tied for third, leading to an epic playoff.
ScHotele had been in cruise control for the entire round until the 14th, when he blew up his drive on the par-5 in the trees to the right, on the edge of the property. Stefan was looking through that monocle, over 100 yards away and very confused. What type of gout was her child having, draining or unplayable? The shots start to add up even faster with Matsuyama on the green in half. “It’s for the peer, then,” Stefan said, trying to keep track. “Be smart, my boy. Alex got up and down 46 yards for a clutch bogey, saving the lead as Sabbatini bellowed him onto the practice green.
Dad watched most of the finishing holes hundreds of yards from his son, receiving updates via Corey Yoshimura, a PGA Tour marketing director who worked as an observer for the broadcast. The radio earpiece communicated everything Stefan needed to know.
When Alex made his eight-by-17 birdie putt, Stefan was already to the left of the landing zone on 18. That’s where he started his jaunt around the observation zone. His son made things interesting by detonating his driving again (“terrible driving,” Xander later said), leaping onto the back of a volunteer. After laying down in the fairway, Alex’s smooth corner landed where most of the corners landed on Sunday, flipping like all those corners before him.
“I closed my eyes and just tried to get really more present and just focus on the four-footed,” ScHotele said afterwards. “Again I just remembered, it’s only a four-footer, all you have to do is do it, that’s okay.”
No big deal, just a putt for Olympic gold and a father’s dream come true. The putt fell in the center of the cup. Alex didn’t scream, throw his arms in the air, or even shoot his fist. He coolly shook hands with his competitors, hugged his cart again and walked straight to his father. Two hours later, with his son atop the podium, Dad was filming on his phone, his mask on, singing the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner.
It sounds like an alien idea now, but there are a number of things that could have kept ScHotele from competing in the Tokyo Olympics. As recently as the US Open at Torrey Pines, his team was still thinking about it. On the one hand, there’s the event he’s playing next week, 13 time zones in Memphis, Tenn., And no special travel arrangements had been guaranteed by the PGA Tour. There’s the fact that Louis Oosthuizen pulled out and Louis’s physio was willing to work with Alex all week, an issue that became more evident as Alex struggled with neck tightness all weekend. end. There was the IOC crackdown on AirBnbs, where Team Xander wanted to stay. If he had to stay in the Olympic village, at least 75 minutes from the Kasumigaseki Country Club, he would not have made the trip. Professional golfers can be extremely demanding. The Sc Chaudeles think this is important.
The hidden asset was that they were going to Japan, and Stefan knows Japan well. He once owned a business here and took semiannual trips. He even lived in Tokyo full time for two years. He knows that Japanese citizens follow the rules, but on occasion you can push those rules. This is exactly what he did. He leaned on his old connections to find a more suitable hotel for Alex’s crew, with all kinds of spaces. Hotels in downtown Tokyo only have room for a single double bed, but the four rooms of the ScHotele team closer to the golf course had two queen-size beds each.
“This gave [Xander] a huge level of comfort, ”Stefan said. A “boost”, even, on the competitors who followed all Guiding lines. With Tokyo under a state of emergency during the Games, alcohol is only sold before 8 p.m. local time. There are none in the Kasumigaseki club house. But Stefan had been pumping beers into KCC all week, burying them in the head of the golf duffel bag as they passed through security. Finally, on Sunday, he was caught red-handed and even confessed how far he got off. He had to move forward without the foam in tow.
While players on the pitch were only allowed to bring one caddy and a personal trainer, one of Stefan’s former business partners stayed with the ScHotele team at the hotel all week. “He takes care of everything,” Stefan said. “Without him, we would be screwed. As part of the course travels to the Olympic Village each night, Stefan makes a phone call when they are thinking of leaving the golf course. Upon their return home, a wide variety of Japanese dishes awaited them. Something different every night. Restaurants owned by old friends and friends of friends.
Knowing the ScHotele lineage and how Alex’s mother’s parents still live in Tokyo, victory would have sparked a hell of a Scuffele party at a non-Covid Olympics. When he played here at the 2019 Zozo Championship, up to 40 extended family members were in attendance. Instead, Alex and his father were leaving their hotel for one closer to the airport on Sunday night. The gold medalist will be on a chartered flight to Memphis on Monday morning. Dad had his own commercial flight.
The penultimate question from its winner’s press conference was simple, albeit unfortunate for the new gold medalist to ponder: How do you plan to celebrate tonight?
“Well, it seems a bit late,” he said. “Eight o’clock is the closing call for alcohol sales currently in Japan due to Covid. So I hope my boys or someone has been drinking alcohol.
Dad’s 12 beers were waiting for them in the team van.