Schauffele storms into Ryder Cup contention

Xander Schauffele teeing off on the second hole during Friday's second round of the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club. He carded a 64 for a two-stroke lead.
Xander Schauffele teeing off on the second hole during Friday's second round of the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club. He carded a 64 for a two-stroke lead.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PHILADELPHIA • Xander Schauffele, 24, is doing everything he can to ensure he remains firmly in the thoughts of US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk with the final berth up for grabs.

Winning the PGA BMW Championship, the third of four FedExCup play-off events, will certainly do that and Schauffele did his chances no harm by firing a six-under 64 on Friday to take a two-stroke second-round lead.

He opened with four birdies in his first seven holes at Aronimink Golf Club and stood on 13-under 127 after 36 holes in the penultimate tournament before the season-ending Tour Championship.

England's Justin Rose was two strokes adrift after shooting a 63 with a pack on 130 including Japan's Hideki Matsuyama (64), Swede Alex Noren (66) and Americans Rickie Fowler (65) and Keegan Bradley (64).

Schauffele, last year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, opened with a 63 on Thursday to stand a stroke behind first-round co-leaders Tiger Woods and Northern Ireland's 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," he said as both Woods and McIlroy faded on Friday.

Woods closed with back-to-back bogeys, missing a six-foot par on 18, in shooting a 70 and dropping to a share of 12th and the former world No. 1 afterwards lamented "not making any putts".

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    FedExCup spots Xander Schauffele must make up, from 41st, to qualify for the top 30 who play at the season-ending Tour Championship, where he is the defending champion.

McIlroy managed only three birdies, seven fewer than his opening round, for a 69 to share seventh on 131.

The 20th-ranked Schauffele, the British Open and Players Championship runner-up, knows nothing less than victory will give him a realistic chance of earning Furyk's last pick for the Ryder Cup showdown against Europe at the end of the month in France.

And he is aware that his 17th-ranked rival Tony Finau, who matched his 64 to stand on 132 alongside Woods, is also shooting for that nomination.

"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."

Schauffele began the week 41st in season points and needing a jump into the top 30 to qualify for a chance of defending his Tour Championship crown in two weeks' time in Atlanta.

But he is now projected to move into sixth on the points table, one spot outside the positions that would give him the US$10 million (S$13.7 million) season play-off prize if he could repeat his victory.

"I'm very aware of where I stood coming into the week," Schauffele added. "Something good here would definitely help."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 09, 2018, with the headline 'Schauffele storms into Ryder Cup contention'. Print Edition | Subscribe