Xander Schauffele is hopeful a trip to his father’s homeland can provide a winning memory at the Porsche European Open.
The 25-year-old’s father, Stefan, is half German and he will look to gain some ‘home’ support from the locals as he makes his debut on continental Europe at Green Eagle Golf Courses.
Schauffele is still eligible to represent Team Europe in the Ryder Cup after narrowly missing out on the United States team at Le Golf National last year.
However, he still has ambitions of playing for Steve Stricker’s side at Whistling Straits in 2020 and will have the comfort of fellow Americans Matt Kuchar and 2018 Masters Tournament winner Patrick Reed when he tees up in Hamburg.
The World Number Nine finished fourth in the 2018 Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex and with the likes of 13 time European Tour winner Paul Casey, in-form Spaniard Adri Arnaus, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and D+D Real Czech Masters champion Thomas Pieters in the field, Schauffele is expecting a tight tussle at the top of the leaderboard in Germany.
“Being a quarter German, it’s cool to tap into my heritage and play in a home away from home. Anything to help me feel comfortable away from home is always a nice thing,” Schauffele said.
“Family, a bunch of friends, and a bunch of my father’s friends are coming out here on Friday for the weekend. I’ll be going to visit them in Berlin after this tournament. It’s a lot of fun.
“I like the northern German air, it’s quite refreshing. I think the course is really fair. If you hit your ball in the right spot you can play really well.
“I expect all the top players to be at the top of the leaderboard. This course will separate good play from bad because it’s so demanding on your long game that if you’re hitting it poorly, your short game won’t save you because you have such a long way to go. If you’re out of position it’ll be a tough week.
“The last year has been a good learning year for myself and my team, learning a lot of my tendencies when I’m away from home. We were able to strengthen a lot of my weaknesses on a game perspective. Every time I travelled I felt more prepared versus my first two years.
“If you look at the courses I’ve won at, I’ve been 11 to 14 under. This is perfect for me. I’d rather play courses like this than a 30-under shoot-out.”
Kuchar is relishing returning to Hamburg as he makes a rare appearance in Europe.
The Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open has been a mainstay on the World Number 20’s calendar in recent seasons, but the 41-year-old has not played in another non-co-sanctioned European Tour event since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October last year.
Kuchar last played in Germany at the 2007 Deutsche Bank Players’ Championship of Europe and, despite missing the cut 12 years ago, he is still excited to tee it up at the Green Eagle Golf Courses.
“I thought it was about ten years ago, but I guess it’s a little longer now. It’s great to be back, I’ve had great experiences,” Kuchar said.
“I had a great time in Hamburg – the city was amazing. Being invited to come to the Porsche European Open, I was excited. The timing was great, I’ve brought the family over and we’ll have a little European vacation after this too.
“We love to travel and go to new places – tying in a tournament and the experiences of the Porsche European Open.
“I’ve got two young kids and being able to show them different parts of the world is a great part of a kid’s education. It’s something I still enjoy doing.”