Sat, 25 Sep 2021

Olympic champion Xander Schauffele and many of his rivals return to the US PGA Tour at the St. Jude Invitational as a busy final month of the season begins.

Schauffele, British Open champion Collin Morikawa and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy will try to set aside their Tokyo adventure when the WGC event starts Thursday at TPC Southwind.

"Different time zone, different part of the world. Still really excited, just an overwhelming amount of positivity coming my way," Schauffele said.

"The biggest thing for me is being able to hone in and focus on the task at hand this week. What was done last week is done. I need to sort of get back on the time zone, lock back in and try to play well this week. I'm obviously in decent form."

World number five Schauffele, who was able to see his 90-year-old Japanese grandparents before leaving Tokyo, said being on the podium made him realize how special the Olympics are.

"It really was something spectacular and obviously nothing like it," he said. "I'm starting to sort of grasp how big it is."

Third-ranked fellow American Morikawa, who lost out in a seven-man Olympic bronze medal playoff, became the first player to win two majors in his debut after taking last year's PGA Championship on his first try.

"Winning The Open a couple weeks ago is just awesome. Life's in a great spot right now," Morikawa said.

Morikawa had no regrets about playing in Tokyo.

"It's one of the coolest things," he said. "Although I wasn't able to get a medal, I'm an Olympian and what happened over the past week is one of the best experiences in my life."

So was his victory last month at Royal st. George's.

"Having the Claret Jug with me, being called the Champion Golfer of the Year doesn't get much better," said Morikawa. "That gives me chills just as much as being called an Olympian does.

"But I want more. I can't live in that moment... if I do, I could blink and we could be at next year's Open Championship already and me not having done things that I want to complete."

- McIlroy seeks freedom -

McIlroy, who won at Memphis in 2014, also fell short in the bronze playoff.

"It has been a whirlwind few weeks with being over in Europe and then Tokyo last week and sort of here, there and everywhere," McIlroy said.

"Just trying to get over the jetlag and going across the dateline and coming back again, that's probably the most difficult thing.

"It was nice to get a couple nights in my own bed before flying up here."

McIlroy wants to keep the relaxed feeling he had playing in Japan.

"The Olympics was a big week for me because I played with more freedom there and that panned out well," McIlroy said. "Best tournament I've played since the US Open, so that's the focus for me over these next few weeks is play with as much freedom as possible.

"More freedom, less thought, more fun, try to have a little more fun with it and then go from there."

Source: News24

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