At the WM Phoenix Open, Xander Schauffele is off to a good start. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to finish it.
Schauffele fired a 4-under 67 at TPC Scottsdale on Thursday, despite the absence of his normal caddy, Austin Keiser. On Wednesday, Keiser tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced on the bag by Kevin Techakanokboon, a friend of Schauffele’s.
This week, Schauffele and Kaiser, among others, were sharing a two-story residence, with the player upstairs and the caddy downstairs. Kaiser told Schauffele he wasn’t feeling well early Wednesday morning.
“We both took the test.” I was pessimistic. He was upbeat. So he and his wife just packed everything up and left the house right away,” said Schauffele, who added that everyone who stayed in the house had been tested.
“Every fan and window in the place was open,” says the narrator. I’m at a loss on what to do next.
“On Wednesday, Schauffele said he called Techakanokboon, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour’s China series, at 7 a.m. and “Tech” was on the next aircraft out of Southern California.
Tech caddied for Schauffele at a tournament in Japan before meeting him at Long Beach State University, when Schauffele was a freshman.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together on the golf course. “He caddied for me once,” said Schauffele. “There are a few tiny things Austin understands how to do that Tech doesn’t.” But he plays, and it’s incredibly useful for me because I know I can trust his reads and feelings.”
In the first round of the tournament, Schauffele made three birdies, one eagle, and one bogey. At the par-5 15th, a holed-out bunker shot for a 3 was the highlight.
The par-4 sixth hole, on the other hand — the right hand – was where he picked up a loose obstacle that was a little too thorny.”
“I grabbed it and tossed it, not really seeing at the other side, and I had six or seven little thorns stuck in my palm, my finger,” he explained.
Things are getting …
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“Some in the audience say, ‘He’s from San Diego.'” So, yes, we don’t have cholla or whatever you want to call it.”
On Wednesday, Kaiser and his wife were returning to San Diego.
“Last night, I spoke with him. “He had a 103 [degree] temperature, a headache, and bodily aches,” said Schauffele, who added that Kaiser had not been vaccinated.
“For as long as this has been going on, he’s been avoiding it, so he was bound to get it.” And I just told him – he was disappointed; it was one of his favorite courses of the year – that it’s better here than at the Masters.”
Schauffele, on the other hand, will be tried throughout the week. He’s hoping he doesn’t “end up like Jon Rahm at the Memorial,” where Rahm had a commanding lead through 54 holes before learning he was COVID-19 positive after Round 3.
“Fortunately, I’m in good shape,” remarked Schauffele. “For the time being.”