Xander Schauffele shot a second-round 63 to move into the lead entering the third round at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics tournament at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan.
Despite a 90-minute lightning delay that threatened to shift the momentum for the 27-year-old American, Schauffele kept his late-round push intact.
Schauffele was 8-under in the second round, thanks to a fiery finish that included three birdies and an eagle over the final four holes. At 11-under for the tournament, Schauffele holds a one-shot lead over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz entering Saturday’s third round.
Ortiz put together rounds of 65 and 67, and the former University of North Texas golfer said he’s thriving in the Olympic environment even with more familiar names on his heels.
Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) was part of a four-way tie for third and Rory McIlroy (Ireland) is a shot back along with fellow countryman Shane Lowry in a grouping sitting at 7-under at the midway point.
“I just wanted to get in contention going into the weekend and still feel I was part of the tournament,” McIlroy said after shooting a 66.
The eagle on No. 14 was Schauffele’s second of the round, a par-5 on which he left himself around 40 feet to the pin after a dart of a second shot.
“I’ve been pressing really hard for a long period of time to win a golf tournament to be completely honest,” said Schauffele, who last won on the PGA Tour in 2019. “There was a point today where I started to get a little impatient, and I kind of had to remind myself back to the times where I did win.”
Schauffele capped his round with a 12-foot putt on the 18th, just before the third weather delay of the Olympics hit the course.
Matsuyama was one of several golfers unable to finish their second 18 of the tournament due to weather. They will return early to complete play Saturday.
Collin Morikawa and Patrick Reed are 3-under and eight shots back of Schauffele, who admitted it will be challenging not to be thinking about gold over the next two days.
“I’m just going to try to stay as patient as possible coming through to the finish line. If you represent your country to the best of your ability and you’re very proud of your country, I think it’s an honor to win a medal. It doesn’t matter what color,” he said. “Obviously we’re all shooting for gold.”
–Field Level Media