PGA: Scottie Scheffler leads Xander Schauffele by 2 at Tour Championship
With some of the best players in the world on his tail, Scottie Scheffler saw his advantage shrink to two shots Friday at the second round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Scheffler’s 4-under-par 66 got him to 19 under for the event, but playing partner Xander Schauffele, buoyed by a birdie-birdie-eagle finish, posted a 7-under 63 and jumped to 17 under. Jon Rahm of Spain also shot a 63 to move into third at 13 under.
Scheffler, the world No. 1, began the FedEx Cup finale with a two-shot edge via the season-long points race, and after one round he moved ahead by five. After a few wayward tee shots down the stretch Friday, he left the door cracked open for Schauffele to charge into frame.
Schauffele won the 2017 Tour Championship, before it was tied directly to winning the FedEx Cup, and shot the lowest 72-hole score in 2020.
“Xander obviously has a great track record around here,” Scheffler said, “but paying attention to what other guys do on the golf course has never served me too well.”
Scheffler led the field by as many as eight strokes early in Friday’s round. He birdied Nos. 2, 3 and 6 to reach 18 under while Schauffele was slower to get going.
But Schauffele shot 6-under 29 on the back nine, while Scheffler birdied No. 12 before slowing down with six straight pars. He missed the fairway at Nos. 13 and 14 and left his tee shot at the par-3 15th short, barely avoiding the water hazard.
Schauffele rolled in birdie putts at the 16th and 17th holes, but the biggest swing came at No. 18.
Scheffler found rough once again off the 18th tee and struggled his way to par. Schauffele placed a 350-yard drive at the edge of the fairway, then carried both a water hazard and multiple greenside bunkers onto the green, just 5 feet from the pin.
His straight-ahead eagle putt sliced a four-shot deficit in half.
“It was nice to pick up some shots late here,” Schauffele said, “but it’s just a positioning battle going into Sunday.
“It’s just kind of head down. There’s a lot of golf to be played on this property. I got off to kind of a bad start and saw a bunch of 62s and 63s on the board, so I just tucked my head and got to work.”
Rahm, who began the tournament 3 under and seven shots behind Scheffler, is giving chase for the second straight year after he challenged eventual champion Patrick Cantlay at East Lake in 2021. Rahm birdied five of his first eight holes en route to his 63, but he was happier with his perseverance on the back nine.
“The key was (holes) 11 through 14 where I made one birdie on 12, but 11, 13, and 14, I could have easily made bogeys,” Rahm said. “I could have easily made mistakes. I got up up-and-down and made two great two-putts from a very long distance to get the round going, and then I finished strong again.”
Cantlay (66) and South Korea’s Sungjae Im (65) were tied for fourth at 12 under, Joaquin Niemann (67) of Chile was in sixth at 11 under and Rory McIlroy (67) of Northern Ireland was seventh at 10 under.
Max Homa did Schauffele and Rahm one better, posting the lowest round of the week with an 8-under 62 to leap into a tie for eighth at 9 under. He was joined by Tom Hoge (66) and Cameron Young (67).
Like Rahm, Homa birdied five of his first eight holes — and, like Schauffele, he played a perfect second shot at No. 18 for a 4-foot eagle tap. He finished bogey-free with six birdies and the eagle.
–Field Level Media