PHILADELPHIA (AFP) - Xander Schauffele boosted his chances of securing the final berth on the US Ryder Cup team, firing a six-under par 64 on Friday (Sept 7) to seize a two-stroke lead after the second round of the PGA BMW Championship.
The 24-year-old American opened with four birdies in his first seven holes at Aronimink and stood on 13-under 127 after 36 holes in the final playoff event before the season-ending Tour Championship.
England's Justin Rose was two strokes adrift after shooting 63 Friday with a pack on 130 including Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, Sweden's Alex Noren and Americans Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley.
Schauffele, last year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year after wins at the Tour Championship and Greenbrier, opened with a 63 to stand a stroke behind first-round co-leaders Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
"It was nice to back up the 63 with a 64, something I've never done in my career so good timing for that," Schauffele said.
Both Woods and McIlroy faded Friday. Woods closed with back-to-back bogeys, missing a six-foot par on 18, in shooting 70 and dropping to a share of 12th. McIlroy managed only three birdies, seven fewer than Thursday, for a 69 to share seventh on 131.
Schauffele, the British Open and Players Championship runner-up, improved his case for being given the final captain's pick for the American squad in the Ryder Cup showdown against Europe at the end of the month in France.
But he knows that rival Tony Finau, who matched his 64 to stand on 132 alongside Woods, is also shooting for a Ryder Cup pick from US captain Jim Furyk.
"I have thought a lot more about the Ryder Cup the past couple of weeks and I'm sort of in a position where I feel like a win is the only way I'd even be in consideration," Schauffele said.
"Tony (Finau) is the guy right now. He just shot 64 as well. He's not making it easy on anyone else trying to get on that team. So hats off to him for playing really well."
Schauffele began the week 41st in season points and needing a jump into the top 30 to qualify for a chance at defending his Tour Championship crown in two weeks in Atlanta.
"I'm very aware of where I stood coming into the week," Schauffele said.
"Obviously 41st isn't what we wanted coming into the week but, you know, something good here would definitely help."
He's now projected to junmp into sixth on the points table, one spot outside the positions that would give him the $10 million season playoff prize if he could repeat his victory.
Rose birdied three of his first four holes in a round of 63.
TIGER 'DIDN'T MAKE ANY PUTTS'
Woods, who managed an eagle and seven birdies on day one, could muster just three birdies but undid all his good work with his closing bogeys.
"I didn't make any putts," Woods said after a round that included 33 putts, six more than Thursday.
"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. Looked like all the putts were going to go in but they didn't go in today."