Stefan Schauffele says Xander's Ryder Cup place was in jeopardy, sounds off on player payment

Photo: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

Xander Schauffele compiled a 1-3-0 record at last week’s Ryder Cup, but according to a report in The Times, his status on Team USA was up in the air until just a few weeks before the event.

Stefan Schauffele, Xander’s father, told The Times that his son’s place on Zach Johnson’s squad was in doubt due to a dispute over an agreement granting Netflix access to the team room for its Full Swing docuseries. The issue reportedly wasn’t resolved until just weeks before a team scouting trip to Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome. Stefan also claimed the PGA of America used “strong-arming tactics.”

A report from Sky Sports during the Ryder Cup claimed there was friction in the U.S. team room, and that Patrick Cantlay was at the center of the conflict due to his beliefs that players who play in the Ryder Cup should be paid. The reporter, Jamie Weir, also shared that “Before the Ryder Cup it was widely reported that (Schauffele and Cantlay) were the ones refusing to allow Netflix cameras access to the team room.”

Cantlay, who played twice alongside his good friend Schauffele, refuted the report all weekend.

Stefan claimed the “ink-smear” about a fractured team room may have developed Xander and Cantlay asking for a “player participation and benefit agreement,” which he said was sent in July, to be amended in three different places, one of which regarded the Netflix access. The U.S. went on to deny access to the team room to preserve the “sanctity and sacredness of Team USA” after a unanimous vote by Johnson and his players.

From the Times report:

“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.”

“Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 2), finally, the head of the PGA of America got wind of this, because it was not him that was blocking it, and put our lawyers in contact with the PGA of America’s general counsel, and then it took a few hours to hash it out and it was fine. Then I received a message that Xander was back on the team. That you can quote. That’s the extent of this and I think it’s shameful.”

Stefan confirmed the issue of players not being paid is a point of contention, but told the Times it wasn’t discussed in Rome “because it’s the wrong venue and time,” but does think a conversation needs to be had and sides need to come to the table to negotiate.

“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,” he said.

“They are using players’ intellectual properties to make money and the American players don’t get paid,” he added. “More importantly, this would become a non-issue if all proceeds, net proceeds, from the Ryder Cup were to be donated to common charitable causes. Right now, the American players are asked to donate their time pro-bono in the name of patriotism so these organizations can benefit from the profits.”

“The PGA (of America) uses this money, and the PGA Tour gets 20 percent that goes into the retirement of every member. The 12 players supposedly need to eat it and their intellectual property gets abused for the benefit of 200 other people. That’s not right.”

But Stefan didn’t stop there. He also gave some interesting quotes to No Laying Up’s Kevin Van Valkenburg.

“If the PGA of America is a for-profit organization, they need to have the players share in that profit instead of being so damned intransparent about it with intent,” Stefan said. “They should reveal the numbers, and then we should go to the table and talk. Alternatively, they can donate all proceeds after opening the books to a charity of our joint choice, and then we will happily play for free. Please print that.”

“I think it’s absolutely non-controversial,” he continued. “Imagine if the winners got $2 million and the losers get nothing. How good of a competition would we have now? I think it could be made so much better because of that. I don’t see a negative there. I think we need to talk about it without bringing up the issue of patriotism, which I think is a really, really cheap shot. Because they’re so wrong, especially these (PGA of America members) are not owning any mirrors in their houses because they’re the ones that are not patriotic. Hopefully the conversation, in seriousness, leads to talks about it that make sense. And then everyone can be happy.”

The discussion around the Sky Sports report was never going to end with Cantlay’s denial, and Stefan Schauffele throwing gas on the sizzling fire has only ensured the discussion of players being paid will continue long after the 2023 Ryder Cup post-mortem ends.

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