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Xander Schauffele: 'It is very strange to play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions'

Schauffele: 'It is very strange to play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions'
© Reuters
Xander Schauffele is one of 16 players in the Sentry Tournament of Champions who failed to win an official event last season.

Xander Schauffele has pledged to "fake it until I make it" as he recovers from contracting coronavirus a week before Christmas.

Schauffele is one of 16 players in the Sentry Tournament of Champions who failed to win an official event last season, but an event usually reserved for winners includes players who reached the 2020 Tour Championship due to Covid-19 truncating the PGA Tour calendar.

"It is very strange," Schauffele told a pre-tournament press conference in Kapalua.

Xander Schauffele
Xander Schauffele will contest the Tournament of Champions despite failing to win in 2020 (Jane Barlow/PA)

"I joked (that) 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."

Schauffele was at a photoshoot for club manufacturers Callaway, along with Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm, on December 16 when he received a text from his girlfriend saying that she had tested positive for Covid-19.

The 27-year-old self-isolated at a hotel for the next two days and then woke up "sick as a dog".

"I dragged myself to the clinic, tested positive, and fortunately was able to quarantine at home with my dogs and my girl," Schauffele added.

"I don't know how she got it. We traced everything. No one around her got it. My family didn't get it. So it's a weird deal. It's a bit scary just because there's so much unknown facts about the whole Covid process, I guess.

"But like I said, just happy to be here and slowly getting my strength back day to day. I tried to walk up a few holes today (Tuesday) 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. So I'll have to fall back on some good memories from the past couple years."

Schauffele won the Tournament of Champions in 2019 after a final round of 62 and needed to birdie the par-five 18th to defend the title 12 months later, only to three-putt for par and fall into a play-off with Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed.

After Schauffele also three-putted the first extra hole to be eliminated from the play-off, Thomas went on to lift the title with a birdie at the third extra hole.

This year's 42-man field is the largest in the tournament's history, with Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton opting against competing and Jim Herman ruled out after contracting Covid-19.

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