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Sizzling Schauffele rides streak into British Open

Xander Schauffele doesn’t want to know the odds of winning a major championship the week after winning a regular tour event. The hottest player in the world is content to know he’s playing well, and he’ll ride that momentum into St. Andrews for this week’s British Open.

“I’m playing some of the best golf of my life and capitalizing on playing really well,” Schauffele said after winning the Scottish Open on Sunday. “There’s a lot of times all the top players play very well, but they don’t get everything out of it. I feel like I’ve been successful in getting the most out of my game.”

That’s putting it mildly. Schauffele teamed with Patrick Cantlay to win the Zurich Classic in April, won the Travelers Championship to close out June, then added the Scottish title last week. He also won the JP McManus Pro-Am a week ago, an unofficial two-day event in Ireland featuring most of the top players in the world.

“It’s been a run,” the Las Vegas resident said, noting he’ll take three weeks off after the British Open to reflect on and celebrate his recent success.

Now he heads to a major championship, golf’s biggest events where Schauffele has made a name for himself. He’s played 21 majors in his brief career and has nine top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie, when Francesco Molinari held him off by two shots.

All majors are special to Schauffele, but this one has a completely different feel with it being the tournament’s 150th playing on arguably the most famous course in the world, one Schauffele has never visited.

“I’m not really one to get too excited to go to a new golf course, but I’m pretty excited to go to that one and I just want to,” he paused to consider his words. “It’s going to be nice to just walk on the property.”

In a perfect world, Schauffele would have more time to prepare for St. Andrews. He does a lot of homework on courses he has never played before, but this week the clock is ticking.

“I have to use this time … to prepare to the best of my ability. I’m going to rely on my caddie to do that,” he said. “I’m tired. I’ve played a bit and I need a rest and I need to get ready for the week.”

The work he’s put in this year has already paid huge dividends. When home in Las Vegas, he practices primarily at Southern Highlands, which is also the home course for Kurt Kitayama, the runner-up over the weekend in Scotland. That effort also got Kitayama in the field this week.

“There’s been a lot of talk about it being the 150th at St. Andrews, so it’s going to be really cool,” Kitayama said. “I’ve actually never played there. It’s going to be really exciting.”

Both players are hoping to continue doing whatever worked last week and simply embrace links golf. Just don’t talk history to Schauffele.

“I’m not really sure what the historical deal is in terms of winning before a major, but I’m not complaining whatsoever,” he said.

Kang misses more time

Danielle Kang, who is dealing with a tumor on her spine, announced on her Instagram account that she will be missing at least two more tournaments.

Kang, who last played at the U.S. Women’s Open the first week of June, said she will miss both the Evian Championship and Scottish Open. The Evian is the second major Kang has skipped following the Women’s PGA Championship. She made no mention of the Women’s British Open the first week of August.

“My team consists of the most amazing people I’ve ever worked with and they are doing all they can to get me back to competing as soon as possible,” Kang said.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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