The Slow Drip Begins
A Times report quotes Xander Schauffele's father claiming his son was threatened with Ryder Cup expulsion over contract demands. Patrick Cantlay joined the Schauffele's in demanding terms.
Remaining true to recent American Ryder Cup losses, Monday kicked off with a reveal suggesting all was not sweet panna cotta and smooth cappuccinos in the under-decorated USA team room. (Maybe the match outcome would have been different if there’d been European style mood lighting and an empty locker tribute to Abe Mitchell.)
The sire of Xander explained the likely cause for Saturday’s disputed report implying USA team dissension. The Tweet thread by Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir suggested demands for player pay had prompted a hatless protest by Cantlay, who denied this or that he’d engaged in play-for-pay discussions during the week.
However, Papa Schauffele tells the Times that the trouble started in July when his son and good buddy Cantlay demanded a “player participation and benefit agreement” from USA’s overlords at the PGA of America. While both players were in good shape points-wise at the time, the team would not be finalized for another two months. Schauffele ended up as the last player to make the roster on points.
Granted an agreement by a PGA of America lawyer, the duo asked for changes, including an amendment regarding Netflix documentary access to the American team room. The demands were ignored for a considerable period and based on Stefan Schauffele’s recounting of the timeline, appear to have influenced his son and Cantlay’s decision to pass up last month’s team practice trip to Rome.
“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.”
Ah, the old lost the phone number bit.
Daddy Stefan says it was not until the “head of the PGA of America got wind of this” over Labor Day weekend that they were put in touch with counsel. Father Schauffele curiously suggests his son’s status on the team was in doubt until the issues were resolved quickly.
“Then I received a message that Xander was back on the team,” he told The Times. “That you can quote. That's the extent of this and I think it's shameful."
Helping to settle the matter was a team vote denying access to Netflix cameras. Captain Zach Johnson put the Netflix matter before the group and the unanimous vote against access was revealed on September 15th. One of Johnson’s Captain’s picks, Rickie Fowler, financially benefits from the PGA Tour and Netflix partnership through his Main Event Productions. Johnson agreed with his players to deny access and told AP that he wanted to preserve the “sanctity and sacredness of Team USA.”
El Pater Schauffele denied that player pay came up last week as was suggested, telling the Times “it’s the wrong venue and time.”
This, as he was discussing the topic at Marco Simone with a reporter from one of the more influential newspapers in the world.
Schauffele also suggested a “meaningful conversation” needs to take place regarding player pay and disclosure of revenues. And the chef’s kiss? This discussion needs to happen in the name of “product” improvement.
“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,” he said. “It's all about improving this product, instead of being secretive and non-communicative.”
Imagine how Stefan would feel if he knew Tony Finau, Annika Sorenstam, Steve Stricker, Edoardo Molinari, Michael Block and Derek Jeter got more Ryder Cup screen time than his son?
The Ryder Cup funnels significant profits to the PGA Tour pension where Xander Schauffele is a future beneficiary (and without ever having to put his own earned dollars into the fund). Yet daddy Stefan’s beef seems to be with the PGA of America and the European Tour Group, operators of the event in Europe.
“They are using players' intellectual properties to make money and the American players don't get paid,” Schauffele said. “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.”
Notably, Schauffele pivoted from product improvement and abuse of individual player rights to speaking out in the name of finding “common” charitable causes.
“The PGA (of America] uses this money, and the PGA Tour gets 20 per cent 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.”
There are more than 200 players benefiting from the pension.
Schauffele made similar remarks to No Laying Up’s Kevin VanValkenburg in Rome, only adding a threat and different view on charity.
“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.”
And so much for the common charity concept floated to The Times.
All of this comes after Xander appeared dour most of the week and went 1-3-0, only securing a point in Sunday singles against Nicolai Højgaard. On Sunday and in a show of unity to good buddy Cantlay, he joined what became only a partial team hatless protest following the previous day debacle in which Cantlay caddie Joe LaCava got carried away waiving his hat, interfered with opponent Rory McIlroy’s pre-putt preparation, and reportedly apologized privately.
However, Xander’s intellectual property did get plenty of attention after Saturday’s weird first tee body language.