A look at Xander Schauffele’s hopes of glory in the final three 2021 Majors

The Californian continued his brilliant record at the highest level with a top three at the Masters but can he win his first Major this year?

It became immediately clear that Xander Schauffele had the game and temperament to do well in the Majors.

He entered his first in June 2017 when winning a spot in the US Open. Ranked 352nd in the world at the time, little was expected but the American was fast out of the blocks.

In fact, he ended his first day at the Majors as a record breaker by becoming the first player in US Open history to shoot a bogey-free round of 66 or better on debut.

Schauffele showed it was no fluke by finishing his week at Erin Hills in tied fifth.

The tone was set and since that fast start he's become one of the best and most reliable Major performers in the game.

This is just his fifth season playing in them but already he's racked up eight top 10s: seven of those are top sixes.

His latest big performance came at Augusta National earlier this month when he was the only player to put any back-nine pressure on eventual winner Hideki Matsuyama.

Schauffele birdied 12, 13, 14 and 15 to pull within two shots before his charge blew up after finding water at 16.

But his tied third place at the Masters reaffirmed his status as a Major winner waiting to happen.

Will the breakthrough arrive this year? Here, Planet Sport Golf examines his hopes of Major glory at this year's three remaining venues - Kiawah Island, Torrey Pines and Royal St. George's.

PGA Championship - Kiawah Island

Schauffele's best odds: 16/1 Paddy Power

Record at the PGA Championship

2017: MC (Quail Hollow, North Carolina)

2018: T35 (Bellerive, Missouri)

2019: T16 (Bethpage State Park, New York)

2020: T10 (Harding Park, California)

On paper, this has been Schauffele's worst Major: it's the only one in which he's failed to post a top five.

And yet a check of his record shows that he's improved his performance every year.

His missed cut on debut remains the only time in 15 Major starts that he's failed to make the weekend.

At Bellerive in 2018, he was tied 15th after 54 holes before dropping to T35 while Schauffele was T8 with 18 to play at Bethpage before a closing 76 dropped him to T16.

However, on home Californian turf at Harding Park in 2020 he signed off with 67 to sneak into the top 10.

So will Kiawah Island suit him? Well, Schauffele loves to hit driver and he'll get plenty of chance to do that on the lengthy par 72.

It's a Pete Dye track and he's already shown up strongly on the design legend's most famous layout when runner-up at Sawgrass in 2018.

US Open - Torrey Pines

Schauffele's best odds: 14/1 Paddy Power

Record at the US Open

2017: T5 (Erin Hills, Wisconsin)

2018: T6 (Shinnecock, New York)

2019: T3 (Pebble Beach, California)

2020: 5 (Winged Foot)

Schauffele is joint-fourth favourite for the US Open with several bookies and it's hard to argue with that given his record in the event.

Starting with his top five at Erin Hills on debut, he's played four and never finished outside the top six. Twice (2017 and 2019) he's started out with a 66.

Incredibly, Schauffele has gained over 50 strokes against the field across those four US Opens.

Will it be fifth time lucky? The venue this year could just make all the difference.

Record at Torrey Pines in the Farmers Insurance Open

2016: MC

2017: MC

2018: MC

2019: 25

2020: MC

2021: 2

The 2021 US Open will be a home game for Schauffele. He was born in La Jolla, played most of his high school golf at Torrey Pines and was there to see Tiger Woods famously win the 2008 US Open there on one leg.

But in his first five starts in the Farmers Insurance Open (the regular PGA Tour event played there each January), he just couldn't translate that home advantage into a big result. There was a top 25 in 2019 but he missed the cut in the other four.

However, he changed the script earlier this year when finishing runner-up.

"It's nice to get over the hump," he said after that second place. "It's one of my favourite tournaments of the year and I show up here every year and I miss the cut almost every time.

"I still haven't played well on the North Course. Fortunately for the US Open, that's going to be four rounds on the South."

Open Championship - Royal St. George's

Schauffele's best odds: 22/1 Skybet

Record at the Open Championship

2017: T20 (Royal Birkdale, England)

2018: T2 (Carnoustie, Scotland)

2019: T41 (Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland)

2020: No tournament

After an encouraging top 20 on debut at Royal Birkdale where he closed with a 65, Schauffele really announced himself as a future Open champion at Carnoustie in 2018.

Middle rounds of 66-67 took him into a three-way tie for the lead with 18 to play and he was in the hunt most of the final day before bogeying 17 and finishing two back of winner Francesco Molinari.

He said later: "I think I just enjoy playing links golf overseas just because versus parkland golf, you have a lot of options off the tee, and you can play shots off the greens in so many different ways."

This will be his first look at Royal St. George's.

Conclusion

Schauffele's stats in the Majors are outstanding: he's made 14 of 15 cuts, posted six top fives, eight top 10s and 11 top 25s.

A tied third at Augusta was a reminder of his class and he has to be on the shortlist for every Major he tees it up in.

In that sense, Skybet's 9/2 for Schauffele to win ANY Major in 2021 is worth a look.

But given his local ties, second place there in January's Farmers Insurance Open and stellar US Open record, Torrey Pines would be top of the list when assessing his best chance in 2021.

That's reflected in the betting and you won't find bigger than 14/1. However, that's more than a sporting each-way price and plenty of punters will snap it up.

Some may take the plunge at 25/1 in the Open too. There's more guesswork involved but he likes the challenge of links golf and two of the last five Opens at Royal St. George's went to American golfers who had yet to win a Major - Bill Rogers in 1981 and Ben Curtis in 2003.

READ MORE: A look at Jon Rahm's hopes of glory in the 2021 Majors

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