Schauffele takes 1-shot lead in Olympic golf


KAWAGOE, Japan — Xander Schauffele has been pointing to the Olympics ever since he started his rise into the elite of American golf three years in the past.

Now that he is right here, within the nation the place his mom was raised and having fun with an Olympic expertise his father may solely dream about, he’s attempting to deal with this like every other week.

His play Friday indicated in any other case. Already with two eagles on his card, Schauffele surged into the 36-hole lead at Kasumigaseki Nation Membership by ending with three straight birdies to tie the Olympic document with an 8-under 63.

He had a one-shot lead over Carlos Ortiz of Mexico, who’s sharing a collection with a boxer and delivered a number of good punches himself in a spherical of 67.

“I simply bought in a pleasant stream there on the finish,” Schauffele mentioned. “Form of a kind of conditions the place I want I may play some extra holes.”

There was no probability of that, for him or anybody else. For the second straight day, thunderstorms prompted a delay of greater than two hours, and one other batch of lightning and heavy rain ended play with 16 gamers nonetheless on the course.

That included Hideki Matsuyama, the Masters champion and Japanese star who recovered from a pedestrian begin and rapidly labored his method into rivalry. Matsuyama was 6 beneath for his spherical — three pictures out of the lead — and had a 5-foot birdie probability on the seventeenth gap when the spherical was suspended.

The gamers have been to return at 7:45 a.m. to complete the spherical.

Additionally proper again within the combine was the Irish duo of Rory McIlroy (66) and Shane Lowry (65), who have been 4 pictures behind Schauffele.

“The purpose at the moment was to type of get again in contact,” mentioned McIlroy, who was six pictures behind first-round chief Sepp Straka at first of the day. “I simply needed to get into rivalry going into the weekend and not less than really feel like I used to be nonetheless part of the match. And I’ve executed that.”

Straka had a 71 and was at 8-under 134 with Mito Pereira of Chile (65) and Alex Noren of Sweden (67).

McIlroy beforehand sounded detached to the Olympics, which he skipped in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro. As soon as he arrived, he discovered himself already wanting ahead to Paris the subsequent time. He cannot attend different occasions, however McIlroy is glued to the TV.

“The one factor I’ve at all times needed to go and see is dressage — at all times,” he mentioned. “It is mesmerizing. And it is on tonight.”

The Olympics have been a purpose for Schauffele all alongside, notably in Tokyo.

His grandparents nonetheless reside right here, and he made his skilled debut in Japan. His father, Stefan, was a decathlete invited to a coaching camp in Germany. On his method there at age 20, his automotive was struck by a drunk driver and he misplaced his left eye, amongst different accidents.

However there isn’t any have to assume forward to what a gold medal — any medal — would imply. Schauffele, whose final official victory was at first of 2019, has been too caught up in that.

“Clearly, you get to take dwelling one thing a bit bit extra particular than cash, what cash should buy,” he mentioned. “So possibly in case you hold fascinated by it, it would develop into extra particular. However to me, that is simply one other golf match.

“I have been urgent fairly laborious for fairly a bit little bit of time to win a golf match, to be utterly sincere,” he added. “There was a degree at the moment the place I used to be beginning to get a bit impatient and I needed to remind myself again to the occasions I did win, and the occasions I have been watching different folks win. They appear to be fairly affected person and staying within the second.”

Schauffele was at 11-under 131, proper the place he needed to be, pondering of little else.

He bought there partly together with his two eagles. One got here on the par-4 sixth gap, the place the tees have been moved ahead as a result of a lot of the golf green was soaked from rain yesterday. He hit a 3-wood to 10 toes. And on the par-5 14th, he blistered a 3-wood from 296 yards to the entrance of the inexperienced and holed a 45-foot putt.

Ortiz additionally took benefit of the ahead tee on No. 6 by hitting driver to 18 toes for eagle, although his birdies ran out after the eleventh gap.

As a lot enjoyable as he is having on the course, the good things is again on the Olympic Village. Ortiz is amongst gamers who do not thoughts the 90-minute commute in trade for hanging out with all the opposite athletes. The sleep it is costing him is just not all concerning the commute.

He’s sharing a collection with mild heavyweight Rogelio Romero.

“The opposite day he completed his struggle. I am waking up at 4 a.m., he is coming again at 11 p.m., getting within the ice tub, waking up all people,” Ortiz mentioned. “He is like: ‘I am so sorry, I am nonetheless working on adrenaline. I am simply attempting to settle down.’ You would not get that wherever else. It is enjoyable. I’ve liked it to this point.”

Romero was to struggle once more Friday evening. Ortiz has performed properly sufficient that he can not less than sleep in.

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