Scottie Scheffler leads Xander Schauffele by 2 at the Tour Championship

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With some of the best players in the world hot on his trail, Scottie Scheffler saw his lead shrink to two strokes on Friday in Round 2 of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

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Scheffler’s 4-under 66 took him down to 19 under for the event, but playing partner Xander Schauffele, backed 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 up to third at 13 under.

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Scheffler, the world No. 1, started the FedEx Cup Finals with a two-shot advantage via the season points race, and after one lap he was up five. After a few wayward tee shots on the stretch on Friday, he left the door open for Schauffele to charge into the frame.

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Schauffele won the 2017 Tour Championship, before it was directly tied to winning the FedEx Cup, and had the lowest 72-hole score of 2020.

« Xander obviously has a great track record here, » Scheffler said, « but paying attention to what other guys are doing on the golf course has never served me too well. »

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Scheffler led the field by no less than eight shots at the start of Friday’s round. He birdied at numbers 2, 3 and 6 to reach 18 under while Schauffele was slower to start.

But Schauffele shot 6-under 29 on the back nine, while Scheffler birdied No. 12 before slowing with six straight pars. He missed the fairway at numbers 13 and 14 and left his tee shot at the short par-3 15th, narrowly avoiding the water hazard.

Schauffele rolled in birdie putts on the 16th and 17th holes, but the biggest swing came on the No. 18.

Scheffler once again found the start of the 18th difficult and struggled to work his way back to par. Schauffele set a 350-yard drive to the edge of the fairway, then hauled both a water hazard and several green bunkers onto the green, just 5 feet from the pin.

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His eagle putt straight ahead halved a four-stroke deficit.

« It was nice to take a few late hits here, » Schauffele said, « but it’s just a positioning battle heading into Sunday.

“It’s just kind of a head down. There is plenty of golf to play on this property. I got off to a bad start and saw a bunch of 62s and 63s on the board, so I just put my head down and got to work.

Rahm, who started the tournament 3 under and seven strokes behind Scheffler, continues for the second straight year after challenging eventual champion Patrick Cantlay at East Lake in 2021. Rahm hit five of his first eight holes en route to his 63 , but he was happier with his persistence on the back nine.

“The key was (holes) 11 to 14 where I birdied 12, but 11, 13 and 14 I could have bogeyed easily,” Rahm said. « I could have easily made mistakes. I got up and made two great, really long putts to start the round and then finished strong again.

South Korea’s Cantlay (66) and Sungjae Im (65) were tied for fourth at 12 under, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann (67) was sixth at 11 under and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (67) was seventh minus-10.

Max Homa outdid Schauffele and Rahm, posting the lowest round of the week with an 8-under 62 to jump into a tie for eighth at 9 under. He was joined by Tom Hoge (66) and Cameron Young (67).

Like Rahm, Homa birdied on five of his first eight holes – and, like Schauffele, he played a second perfect shot at No. 18 for a 4ft eagle tap. He finished bogey-free with six birdies and the eagle.


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