Carnoustie – Xander Schauffele’s German father had his dreams of competing in the decathlon at the Olympics cruelly robbed from him, but on Sunday his American son could win the Open Championship.
Stefan Schauffele was left blinded in his left eye in a car crash with a drunk driver when he was in his early 20s.
He went on to teach Xander his swing and caddied for him before being ditched for calling his son an idiot during a round in 2015.
But, now 24, Xander carded a four-under-par 67 in the third round at Carnoustie to sit alongside his compatriots, defending champion Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, in the lead on nine-under.
Showing few signs of nerves Schauffele, who won twice on the PGA Tour last year, outshone his playing partner, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who posted a 70, in front of a raucous gallery cheering on the Northern Irishman.
Schauffele, though, says being relatively unknown has its advantages.
“I played in front of what you call Rory’s crowd, I guess, and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he’s trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times,” said Schauffele.
“No one was yelling at me while I was putting.”
Schauffele is similarly unfazed by having to play the final round on Sunday with Spieth.
“He’s such a nice guy. If anything, we can hopefully get something going, and we can start feeding off each other,” said Schauffele.
“Like you said, he won last year, and he’s playing great golf right now. So I think he’d be a lot of fun.”
In contrast to several of the other twenty-something Americans who have come to the fore in recent years, Schauffele stayed on in college to complete his studies. However, Spieth was someone he kept his eyes on.
“He was out on Tour while I was still in college, I think,” said Schauffele, whose mother is of Taiwanese origin but like his father a naturalised American.
“I watched him on TV a lot more than anyone else in my class. So it’s cool to be out here.”
Schauffele’s previous best performance in a major came on his debut, when he tied for fifth at last year’s US Open.
He has emerged as a golfing starlet despite originally playing football, which was only natural given his great grandfathers were professional players.
Johann Hoffmann was capped by Austria and won the French title with Sochaux in 1938, while Richard Schauffele played for Stuttgart in Germany in the 1920s before going on to be a successful athlete.
“I played soccer until I was like 10 or 11, maybe 12,” said the young Schauffele.
“I had fun with it, but it was a team sport, and I hated losing, and we kept losing, so I quit. That’s an easy answer.”
However, he still keeps an eye on it and watched the World Cup, and had reason to celebrate when France lifted the trophy.
“The US obviously didn’t qualify, which is the big part of me,” he said.
“And then Germany is a quarter (he is a quarter German), and they got kicked. Conveniently, I jumped with France, since that’s the other quarter of me.”