Cromwell, Connecticut – Xander Schauffele knows rumors have been flying like a great shot he fired all over the TPC River Highlands green in regulation Thursday at the Travelers Championship.
Schauffele — the 28-year-old, number 15 in the world, a five-time PGA Tour winner who has finished in the top seven of eight majors since 2017 — has been a major target of the LIV Tour of golf led by Greg Norman.
He checks every box in search of LIV Golf: a young man, who has already won Olympic gold and is in the prime of his life.
Words on the street among some players and codes say Shaveli will eventually follow Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, three fellow players at the height of their careers who made the leap into the Saudi-backed deep tour. The PGA Tour Foundation’s feathers are stacked.
Shaveli has had a lot on his mind lately.
You’d never know it from the 7-under-63 he posted in the first round of the Travelers, leaving him one shot behind Rory McIlroy and GT Boston.
It was really a great start for Shaveli. But questions still remain about where he goes from here. Not the next three days at the Travelers, but after that. To LIV or not to LIV?
“I’m very comfortable with where I am now…on the PGA Tour,” Shaveli told The Post after his tour in a transparent and wide-ranging interview. “You have to speak in general, obviously, so as not to get into trouble [later]. ”
Translation: See Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, all of whom said “no” to the Saudis before finally giving in to their own prices and saying “yes” — moves that ruined their credibility.
Schauffele hasn’t closed the door on the LIV Golf, and he’s not afraid to reveal it.
“I’ve been in contact with them, but honestly, it’s been a long time,” Shaveli said. At first, I was in contact with them, but recently I haven’t been in touch with them.”
Shaveli admitted that “you struggle with yourself” over whether to stick to the status quo or seek the money. Phil Mickelson earned $200 million to join, Johnson $125 million and DeShampoo $100 million.
“My heart is telling me to stay here, and it’s just asking me to make this tour the best I can,” Shaveli said. “Obviously, I can’t do it individually. I need help from other players, and I need the help of the commissioner, Jay [Monahan], and that everyone else on the staff believes this tour is going to be the best and that they need to keep it looking its best. ”
Shaveli praised Monahan for Tuesday’s announcement of an increased tournament portfolio and an intense schedule, items that cater to the Tour’s best players, saying that the announcement “may be helpful to keep players on this tour.”
“But it cannot stop there,” he added. “You have to keep paying.”
Then Shaveli boldly went to a place where no other player has gone. He called on the Grand Slams to follow Monahan’s lead in increasing the portfolio.
“Big companies have never disclosed their finances,” he said. If it was The Memorial, Genesis and Arnold Palmer could jump from $12 million to $20 million [purses]I’m sure these majors can go up. ”
Schauffele said he “thinks everyone has a number” that would lure them to LIV Golf, but said he didn’t know what it was.
“I am 28 and love to play golf and obviously the safer aspect is to continue on this tour and make this tour better,” he said. “If I were to get a silly offer from the other side, it would probably make me think. But at the same time, I should really think about why I wanted to be here, why I’m excited to train and improve.”
He said he spent a lot of time talking to his “team” and his wife, Maya, about staying or leaving.
“I asked her many times, ‘Do you think I like playing for money? ‘ said Shaveli. “I don’t mind making money, but my true love is the game. And that puts me in a difficult situation.”
Part of the tractor to stay on on the PGA Tour is this: At least for the foreseeable future, LIV Golf can’t create the electricity that Sunday’s game at The Country Club in the final round of the US Open.
“It’s really about tradition,” Shaveli said. “The majors aren’t even part of the PGA Tour, but I feel like they run in parallel. It comes down to how much of an individual’s tradition versus how advanced you want to be?
“The PGA Tour has been sort of caught up in being very traditional, and they’ve been more progressive, trying to change and improve. They say the other round isn’t a threat, but why are they dancing so fast to make moves?
“I am not opposed to them becoming more proactive versus reactive.”