Mon, 18 Nov 2019

Chiba - World No 8 Xander Schauffele has a lot of incentives to play well at the Zozo Championship this week - about 40 members of his Japanese extended family who will be cheering every shot.

The American has a family heritage that straddles the globe, but says he was brought up culturally more Japanese on his mother's side.

Schauffele is giving away tickets as fast as he can lay hands on them for the PGA Tour's first tournament in Japan, which begins on Thursday.

"Dad's half-French, half-German. My brother was born in Stuttgart. My mom was born in Taiwan, grew up in Japan from the age of two," said Schauffele when asked by AFP to explain his multi-cultural family ties on Wednesday.

"I'm just a mix of all kind of things. We have family in both Taiwan and Japan. I've been to both countries several times. I would say culturally I was raised more on the Japanese side."

And that means it's family party time whenever he arrives in the Land of the Rising Sun, and especially for this week at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba Prefecture, an easy commute for his Tokyo-based family.

"I have a lot of family here, so it's kind of a win-win for me coming over here and playing. I love Japan and I love being over here," he said.

"I've maxed out my tickets," he smiled.

"But I'm still asking for tickets from everyone else, from other players, I should say, if they have any extra.

"I'm assuming, I don't know, there will be 30 to 40 maybe (coming to watch). I have a bunch of cousins, uncles, you name it," said the 25-year-old, who reckons it is his 12th visit to Japan.

"It's awesome that we're close, just a short train ride away for them to come watch me from the city," said Schauffele.

"I haven't been able to play in front of my mom's family at all. It's kind of special. When I come over here, for dinners it's a massive deal. It will be really cool and I'm just excited to see everybody."

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are top names at the $9.75 million Zozo Championship, which forms the middle leg of the PGA Tour's new three-tournament Asian swing worth almost $30 million.

It kicked off last week at the $9.75 million CJ Cup in South Korea, won by Justin Thomas.

Schauffele will defend his title at the $10.25 million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai next week, one of his four PGA Tour wins.

Then he will make his US debut at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in December, in the team captained by Tiger Woods against Ernie Els's International team.

"I've never been on any team in my whole life, so I'm anxious, nervous, excited. Don't really know what to expect," admitted Schauffele.

"I've always wanted to go to Australia as well, so it's sort of a win-win again for me. Just living a good life, I guess."

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