Newtown Square, PA — After several opportunities which have not panned out on Sunday’s this PGA TOUR season slipped by, Xander Schauffele is a man on a mission.
“Just prove to myself that I can win again and just be clutch,” he said. “I always thought I was rather a clutch player coming down the stretch and this year has said otherwise. I’m trying to prove it to myself again. I just want to win and just kind of handle my business. I feel like I haven’t been doing that as well just on the weekends and maybe too relaxed or whatnot. I feel like I’ve sort of been a little more focused this week and a little more serious.”
Schauffele’s two-round total of 13-under par 127, is the second lowest 36-hole total on TOUR this season and gives him a two shot lead over Justin Rose heading into play Saturday.
“It was nice to back up the 63 with a 64, something I’ve never done in my career so good timing for that,” said Schauffele.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 7, 2018
As indicated above, Schauffele is currently projected sixth in the FedExCup Points, a far cry from the 41st position he started the week with.
In his second round, Schauffele hit 7 of 14 fairways but hit all but one green, while taking 29 putts. His 15 birdies on the week currently tie Keegan Bradley for most in the field.
Last week, Schauffele made a change in putters to a red Versa, one which has two long parallel lines and a little line on TOUR. The putter is known as “Fang”.
Another change was the 24-year-old sending his father Stefan home the past two weeks. The reason for it was because the elder Schauffele has logged quite a bit of miles this year but also because of a confidence in his game.
“I feel like he’s got me in a good spot where I can just sort of free wheel it myself,” the younger Schauffele said. “If things are a little off, like today I didn’t hit the driver that well, I can go on the range and sort of dial it back in and not worry too much about it.”
It has to an extent been a trying year for Schauffele who had to adjust to the responsibilities of being considered among the top-ranked golfers. This has meant less practice time and having to prepare smarter.
All of the season and in some cases, the Sunday disappointments have given him a chance at some redemption and now holding a second round lead for the first time in his career, quite possibly a third PGA TOUR win in this, his second year.
“My Sunday scoring average is pretty bad to be completely honest here, it’s very poor and my Saturday
isn’t very good as well,” said Schauffele. “A lot to prove not just to everyone else but to myself this weekend. I’ve been failing a lot so it would be nice to turn the switch and kind of clutch up.”
Rose finds success at familiar venue
Justin Rose was admittedly tired and running late this morning and knew he had to improvise to ensure he had a good round.
“I did everything short and sharp today,” he said. “I didn’t putt before my round, went straight to the range after the gym, went to the range and came to the putting green before teeing off. I normally putt, then range, then come back to putting. I came to the putting green ten minutes earlier just because of the way my timing was this morning.”
He did get to the first tee with a moment to spare and then the adrenaline took over.
Despite that, Rose was all smiles coming off Aronimink Golf Club after recording a bogey-free 63 that brought him into solo second.
“No mistakes out there,” Rose said. “Actually, no mistakes in the scorecard. Still some mistakes out there but saved myself.”
Though Rose hails from across the pond, he certainly enjoys a home-course advantage of sorts, having won the 2013 U.S. Open at nearby Merion Golf Club.
“Must be something in the water around here for sure,” said Rose. “I played well, and the crowd latched on to it for sure. I get good support around here. It’s nice when they’re reminding you all the time that it’s your town as well. Obviously I like to come here and play well.”
Given how the course is playing, Rose does expect a shootout, estimating a score of around 20-under par taking the event.
“You’ll have to keep going forward here,” he said. “Weather is going to change, get cooler, maybe some rain. Not thunder rain but England rain that we might have to play in. We’ll see how that goes. That might make the course a little longer, little tougher but I think for the most part we’re going to have to keep making birdies.”
Woods putting goes in different direction Friday
It was a Friday to forget as Woods finished with an even par round of 70 Friday after finishing last in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.
“(My round was) Very simple, I didn’t make any putts,” he said. “I hit a lot of beautiful putts that were on top of the edge and then obviously hit a couple bad ones on the last hole but looked like all the putts were going to go in but they didn’t go in today.”
Woods perhaps seemed most frustrated that there were scores to be had and the scoring average was 67.333 as opposed to the 68.130 final mark from round one.
“That round today was easily 6, 7-under par,” said Woods. “It turned into even par which is not what I needed to do today. Everyone is going low and birdies should be had.”
Woods, who currently is projected 26th in the FedExCup points standings, will tee off with Ryan Armour at 12:40 p.m. Saturday.
BMW Championship Second Round Leaderboard
1. Xander Schauffele -13
2. Justin Rose -11
T3. Keegan Bradley -10
T3. Rickie Fowler -10
T3. Hideki Matsuyama -10
T3. Alex Noren -10
T7. Jason Day -9
T7. Billy Horschel -9
T7. Charles Howell III -9
T7. Rory McIlroy -9
T7. Justin Thomas -9
They said it
“Not only was it a divot but it was a deep divot. Trying to figure out how in the hell does a divot get that deep that far out there? Had to be from the Pro-Am.” – Tiger Woods
“We talk quite a bit but what she’s doing is just truly remarkable. Having a child and having all the duties of a mother and trying to come back and trying to play at the elite level and she’s doing it, that’s back to back finals, that’s pretty impressive.” – Woods on Serena Williams
“First time ever that I actually hit 18 greens, which was nice. So, when you’re not chipping much or hitting shots out of the bunkers or green sides, which I’m normally doing, it definitely makes it a little bit tougher. Today was a nice, clean card, and getting to 9-under is nice. Good to get in and have a good round under the belt and go into the weekend.” – Jason Day on his second round
Given that there is an odd number of golfers, there was bound to be a player going out solo and it ended up being Phil Mickelson who will go at 8:35 Saturday morning… Keegan Bradley is tied for third, three strokes behind Schauffele. He is seeking his fourth-ever TOUR Championship first since 2013. He currently is projected to move up 24 spots to 28th on the points list… Currently one rookie is projected to play in the TOUR Championship and that is Aron Wise who is currently 19th and has already secured his spot in the field in two week’s time… Despite some inclement weather after Thursday’s play, the par-5 16th hole again ranked as the easiest, this time with a 4.261 clip. The par-4 fourth hole proved most difficult on this day with a 4.188 final mark… There were 13 golfers who had bogey-free rounds on Friday in Kevin Na (62), Tommy Fleetwood (62), Justin Rose (63), Francesco Molinari (63), Charles Howell III (63), Ted Potter Jr. (64), Jason Day (64), Bubba Watson (65), Patrick Cantlay (65), Marc Leishman (66), Alex Noren (66), Beau Hossler (67) and Ryan Armour (67).
Photo credit: PGA TOUR