I love Japan and I love being here. I've been coming over here a lot over the years and my grandparents live in Tokyo and I have uncles, aunts and cousins from my mum's side of the family living here as well.
I’ve made a lot of visits and I’ve always enjoyed the culture, the people and the food. The people are so proud here, they have a lot of pride, and I respect that a lot.
It’s a very special place which I hold very dear to myself and my whole family. I pretty much love everything about Japan and I’m always happy to come back.
You know when you open a suitcase, you can always kind of smell sort of where you come from. I can always tell whenever my grandparents used to travel to San Diego a long time ago to visit us when I was a kid, it always smelled like Japan.
I really don’t know how to describe it but every time I come over here, I really appreciate the culture and how kind and respectful everyone is and I think I speak for everyone competing in this week’s Zozo Championship.
As many of you know, I’m the only natural-born American in my family, having been born in the United States. My dad, Stefan, is half French, half German, born in Stuttgart while my brother Nico was born in Stuttgart.
My mom Ping Yi, was born in Taiwan and grew up in Japan from the age of two. Hence, we have family in both Taiwan and Japan. And then my wife Maya’s mom is also Japanese. I’m just a mix of all kinds of things.
I grew up kind of raised on the Japanese side and being out here and communicating with Japanese folks kind of reminds me of my mom’s tendencies, which is funny.
I’m excited to be playing in front of Japanese fans again this week at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.
Golf in Japan typically is much tighter, much narrower and conditions are pristine across the board each and every week. That’s just a standard here in Japan. If you’ve never played golf here, they like things to be perfect and they are, which is very nice for us to compete on.
The course is very hard. There are probably five par-4s out here that are very difficult and if you can kind of go through those holes maybe close to level par for the week and you play the rest of the golf course as you’re supposed to play it, you’re going to have a pretty good chance.
The greens are slopier than I first anticipated and during one of my first few practice rounds, I putted it off like three or four greens, which was a little shocking.
I remember my first time playing in the Zozo the year Tiger Woods won in 2019, I was paired with Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy in the first two rounds and we had such a warm welcome on the first hole with five to 10 rows deep of people just going nuts that we were out there.
When our name got announced, it was like, holy smokes, are we at a major championship? People in Japan love golf and it’s really amazing they’re very supportive, respectful, and polite. I can’t wait to see them coming out to support the players and tournament again as we’ve got another great field this week.
It feels good to be back. It really is a big deal trying to win another PGA Tour tournament in a country which is like my second home. I’ve already had the honour of winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 which is a major highlight in mycareer and I will be doing everything I can to win the Zozo Championship which will be really special especially with my family in attendance.
It’s going to be another week with big dinners planned with a lot of family members and it’ll be nice to see my grandparents.
You know, I always pencil down this tournament on my schedule every year and it’ll be a huge honour for my family if I was able to secure a “W” this week. I personally like playing abroad, away from home as I think it’s great to grow the game in other places around the world besides the States. I’m going to try and put the best show that I can on for my grandparents, family and fans.
Note: Xander Schauffele is a seven-time PGA Tour winner. You can watch him compete at the Zozo Championship on Golf Channel Thailand.