Schauffele clings to 1-shot lead in males’s golf


KAWAGOE, Japan — Simply over three weeks in the past, Hideki Matsuyama was in isolation for COVID-19 and determined to report a destructive check to have any likelihood of competing in his residence Olympics.

Even when he cleared that hurdle, it was a matter of constructing endurance for stifling warmth and shedding rust from not having performed a full match because the U.S. Open six weeks in the past.

And on Sunday, he steps onto the tee within the last group, one shot behind Xander Schauffele, a gold medal inside his attain for a rustic with excessive hopes for its Masters champion.

“I positively couldn’t have believed it,” Matsuyama mentioned after a full Saturday that started with him capping off a 7-under 64 within the rain-delayed second spherical after which posting a 67.

“To be trustworthy, the endurance a part of my sport has been struggling a little bit bit,” he mentioned. “Fortunately, it is held up the previous few days. Hopefully, it’ll maintain up tomorrow, as properly.”

Including to the check was a medal spherical at Kasumigaseki Nation Membership that was vast open.

Schauffele, the 27-year-old American whose mom was raised in Japan, did not have loads go his manner Saturday till he completed on a robust notice, firing a 9-iron to inside 3 toes for a birdie and a 68 to maintain his one-shot lead.

So wild was the third spherical that 5 gamers had a share of the lead at one level and there was a three-way tie amongst Schauffele, Matsuyama and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico happening the 18th when the American made birdie.

That left Schauffele 18 holes away from an Olympic gold medal, and the rostrum nonetheless felt prefer it was miles away.

He was at 14-under 199.

Schauffele has been making an attempt to deal with this as some other match, and it felt like one Saturday.

“Tomorrow could really feel a little bit totally different,” he mentioned. “There’s a little bit bit extra on the road than what we usually play for, and also you’re clearly making an attempt to symbolize your nation to one of the best of your means. In order that’s why I will be on the vary tonight.”

Becoming a member of them within the last group is Paul Casey, who shot a 66 in his bid to maintain the Olympic gold medal in golf with Britain. He was two photographs behind together with Ortiz, who made bogey from the bunker on the 18th gap.

Justin Rose received the gold in Rio de Janeiro, marking golf’s return to the Olympic program after a 112-year absence. It got here all the way down to Rose and Henrik Stenson in Rio. This time, eight gamers have been separated by three photographs.

“I believe it will get knocked fairly a bit, would not it?” Casey mentioned about Olympic golf on a calendar of 4 majors. “It is like ‘Why do we want it?’ However the guys which are listed below are very conscious what this implies to at least one particular person. Effectively, it will likely be three medals, however to the gold medalist, it is huge.”

It is notably huge for Matsuyama, who raised Japan’s expectations when he received the Masters in April.

He performed with Schauffele within the last spherical at Augusta Nationwide, beginning out with a four-shot lead and sweating it out on the finish till Schauffele hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 sixteenth gap and made triple bogey.

“I am certain Xander will come out decided to win the gold medal tomorrow,” Matsuyama mentioned.

Thomas Bach, the Worldwide Olympic Committee president, joined PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan beneath a tent subsequent to the primary tee to observe the ultimate group begin. Even with no spectators, Matsuyama nonetheless attracted some 250 individuals, most of them volunteers, all of them hanging on each shot by Matsuyama.

“It doesn’t really feel like we do not have followers out right here,” Matsuyama mentioned.

Motion got here from each nook of Kasumigaseki.

Rory McIlroy, detached in regards to the Olympics till he arrived in Tokyo and already wanting ahead to Paris in 2024, made an early transfer till he was slowed by a poor pitch that stored him from birdie on the par-5 14th and a three-putt bogey on the sixteenth gap. He bounced again with a birdie and completed with a 67.

McIlroy was three photographs behind, together with Sebastian Munoz of Colombia (66), Mito Pereira of Chile (68) and Sepp Straka of Austria (68).

All have been very a lot within the combine for gold. Others have been nonetheless hopeful of any medal, an inventory that abruptly consists of Sungjae Im. The 23-year-old South Korean wants an Olympic medal to earn an exemption from necessary army service, although this is not his final likelihood.

Im was 12 photographs out of the lead and was the third participant this week to match the Olympic report with a 63. He was nonetheless seven behind, although one other huge spherical might maintain him in bronze vary.

Matt Kuchar got here out of nowhere with a 63 on the ultimate day in Rio to take the bronze.

“It is like high 3 or nothing, proper?” McIlroy mentioned. “So yeah, you are taking peeks and glances at it and seeing how far off the tempo you might be. There’s nonetheless 18 holes is a variety of golf nonetheless and loads can occur. I must go play spherical of golf tomorrow and see the way it all unfolds.”

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