How Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele forged a friendship at the Presidents Cup that could be key for the U.S. at the Ryder Cup – usatoday.com

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HAVEN, Wis. – On the 23-hour flight to Melbourne, Australia for the 2019 Presidents Cup, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele drank coffee to stay awake and played gin for hours upon hours.
“We both didn’t want to lose,” Schauffele said. “It was more of a competitive thing, just like us playing.”
So who won this cutthroat game?
“I win at gin,” Cantlay said. “He won’t dispute that.”
On the flight and in the days to follow a friendship was born and it could become a critical factor in the United States wresting control of the Ryder Cup this week, and potentially for years to come. That week in Australia, Cantlay and Schauffele teamed in four matches, including going 2-0 together in foursomes, and likely will reunite for Team USA at this week’s 43rd Ryder Cup.
“One of the best things personally for me about Presidents Cup other than the golf was just being able to be forced to spend time with Xander, and he’s become one of my best friends through that experience,” Cantlay said. “If we were at a regular tournament, there’s no way I would have spent the time or gone out of my way to invest in a relationship with one of the other guys that I was playing against. But now that he’s on my team and it might help me in my golf to get along with this guy, I realize that I really liked him as a person and we’ve become great friends.”
Cantlay added: “I think he’s incredibly smart, and I think he’s incredibly conscientious. He is someone that probably brings out the best in me. He’s more positive, and he has a way of being more light as opposed to me being serious. Yet he’s very quiet and reserved, so we kind of have that bond, and yet he balances me out a little bit.”
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The good friends spent part of the PGA Tour’s one-week off-season celebrating their successes in Napa, California, along with their significant others – Schauffele’s wife Maya and Cantlay’s girlfriend Nikki Guidis – and drinking some very good wine.
“It was a nice time to sort of kick back and relax,” Schauffele said. “Obviously we were there celebrating his FedExCup win and my gold medal from a long time ago.”
As their friendship grows, so has their place as two of the top American pros, both under 30 and positioned to be a tandem in international competition for the next decade. Cantlay made the point that it helps to gel with your partner, and it doesn’t hurt that they excelled in foursomes, a format where the Americans traditionally have struggled in the Ryder Cup.
“It feels like every shot you hit is more important because it is,” Cantlay said of the alternate-shot format. “You saw it with Seve and Olazábal; I guarantee you they didn’t say sorry for hitting a bad shot, right, because they were such good friends and they had done it so many times.
“So, I think foursomes is a lot more emotional in that way, and the fact that Xander and I are really good friends, and so I know he’s trying as hard as he possibly can, and if he hits a bad shot, it’s just – that’s golf.”
Schauffele echoed that sentiment and recounted an anecdote that personified what Cantlay had said.
“I think we were so tired when we went into our third match, and basically that afternoon match solidified us playing all five at the Presidents Cup,” Schauffele said. “And I remember him coming up to me on the first tee and he had a coffee in his hand, which is something we don’t do, so it showed how tired he was. He said, ‘Hey, if I don’t talk to you it’s not because I’m not pulling for you. I’m just trying to conserve some energy and I’ll walk ahead and things like that.’ I was like, ‘That’s great. It doesn’t bother me whatsoever.’ We just understand each other pretty well, and I think that helps us play well together. Even if we’re quiet or whatever you want to call it, not talking, we just know we have each other’s back.”
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay walk from the tenth green 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 by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
U.S. Captain Steve Stricker would be crazy to not pair this dynamic duo together. Cantlay, 29, winner of the FedEx Cup and PGA Tour Player of the Year, is riding a streak of 15 straight rounds in the 60s entering the Ryder Cup, beginning with the second round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in early August, which is the longest such streak on the PGA Tour the last two calendar years. Schauffele, 27, is one spot behind Cantlay at World No. 5, and claimed the Olympic gold medal in August, though the medal isn’t on display in the team room this week.
“It’s too individual. It’s about the team this week, so it wasn’t going to make an appearance,” Scahuffele said. “I don’t even know where it is. I think my mom might have it back home, unless my dad secretly has it on him out here.”
Not only have Cantlay and Schauffele teamed successfully in foursomes, but Schauffele, who uses the Callaway Chrome Soft X LS Prototype, already has developed a comfort level using Cantlay’s ball, a Titleist Pro V1.
Ever since their partnership at the Presidents Cup, Schauffele and Cantlay, who also paired at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Tour’s lone two-man team event, have been regular practice-round partners and taking on all comers in money matches. For Stricker, the Cantlay-Schauffele pairing is as much of a no-brainer as JustinThomas-Jordan Spieth. The only question is how many times do you send these bosom buddies out and whether Stricker should brew a pot of coffee for the afternoon match on Saturday.
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