Report: Xander Schauffele almost lost Ryder Cup spot, according to dad, over issues with player benefit agreement

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Xander Schauffele earned the chance to play on the 2023 U.S. Ryder Cup team, grabbing the last of six automatic qualifying spots to secure his second start in the biennial event. But according to a story in the Times of London on Monday, his place on the roster was in jeopardy ahead of the match at Marco Simone because of a disagreement regarding the Ryder Cup’s player participation and benefit agreement.

In the story, Schauffele’s father, Stefan, claims that the PGA of America threatened to take Schauffele off the team if Xander did not sign the agreement ahead of an unspecified September deadline.

Stefan Schauffele said that Xander received the agreement in July and that he had three changes he wanted made. However, according to Stefan, the PGA of America did not respond to inquiries about the amendments.

“The PGA of America were not willing to even talk to us about [the three amendments],” Stefan Schauffele told the Times. “It was very late in the schedule right before the team came here [to Rome] to practice because they had moved the deadline and they said, ‘If you don’t sign it by then, you’re off the team’, but they never gave us the contact information of their legal counsel.”

Stefan told the Times that on Sept. 2, after “the head of the PGA of America” got involved, Schauffele finally got resolution to his questions. (The story did not specify whether it was PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh who got involved). Said Stefan: “Then I received a message [from the PGA of America] that Xander was back on the team. That you can quote. That’s the extent of this, and I think it’s shameful.”

The Times’ story said the PGA of America declined comment. The PGA of America had not responded to a Golf Digest request for comment at the time this story was posted.

Among the points in the agreement that Schauffele wanted amended, according to the Times, was regarding access by a Netflix documentary crew to the team room for filming the second season of “Full Swing.” Schauffele is not among the tour pros who have signed releases to be included in the documentary. U.S. captain Zach Johnson said the team eventually voted unanimously not to allow the cameras to preserve the “sanctity and sacredness of Team USA.”

During the week at Macro Simone, the issue of players being paid for their participation in the event became a topic of discussion after a report surfaced that Patrick Cantlay was not wearing a hat during the Ryder Cup as a form of protest over his frustration that players were not being paid for competing in the event. (Cantlay claimed the report was false.)

In the Times story, Stefan Schauffele acknowledged that the issue is one worth exploring. “I think we have to have a meaningful conversation about it,” Stefan said. “This is a long game, maybe in two or three Ryder Cups when the parties have decided to come to the table, instead of leaving the elephant standing around in the middle of the golf course. It’s all about improving this product, instead of being secretive and non-communicative.

“The PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe need to be more transparent and disclose how this money from the Ryder Cup is being distributed.”

Xander Schauffele, sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking, struggled at Marco Simone, finishing with a 1-3-1 record for an American side that fell to Europe, 16½-11½. Schauffele, Cantlay and Jordan Spieth were the only three members of the U.S. team who did not attend a scouting mission to Marco Simone in early September. Spieth’s daughter Sophie was born Sept. 12. Cantlay and Schauffele both cited personal reasons for missing the trip.

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