RBC Canadian Open

Hamilton Golf & Country Club

Wells Fargo Championship

Lucky and good: Xander Schauffele uses friendly ruling to vault to Wells Fargo lead

May 09, 2024

Andrew Redington

CHARLOTTE — The old adage is that it's better to be lucky than good, but as any champion athlete knows, it's best of all to be lucky and good. Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship, Xander Schauffele ticked both boxes en route to shooting a seven-under 64 and establishing a three-shot lead on Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa and Alex Noren.

On the eighth hole, though—Schauffele's second-to-last of the day—it almost came undone. Schauffele pushed his tee shot far to the right, over a line of trees and next to a fence. It took his group almost the full three allotted minutes just to find the ball (it was Wyndham Clark who spotted it in the end), and as you'll see in the video below, the result looked borderline unplayable. But in what can be considered a kind of miracle, Schauffele had a window to pitch through the woods, and—far more importantly—a guide wire from a Shotlink camera tower in the potential path of the ball ... technically. Watch how it played out:

The two club lengths of free relief gave him clearance from his nasty position—he even made it out of the trees, thanks to his driver—and from there he pitched onto the front of the green and two-putted for par.

"Wyndham found it pretty close to the fence," Schauffele explained. "Punching out backwards was impossible because the fence was [within a foot of] my ball, so the only advancement since the two rocks were moved was actually punching towards the green. So I brought the rules official in and I was like ... I either go back to the tee or I try and force it forward, and if I force it forward, worst case is it gets stuck in there and then I can just punch it back out and I'd be grinding for a five ... and the wire was perfectly in the way.

“The tower was just in the luckiest spot possible. So then I can take equidistant relief either side of the tower, went left, the club lengths got me on the very edge of the pine straw."

That was the lucky part. The "good" part was everything else, but most notably a near albatross on the previous hole, the par-5 seventh:

Schauffele converted the eagle and finished his round with his sixth birdie of the day on No. 9, courtesy of a 175-yard approach shot to six feet.

Lucky and good is a fearsome combo, and Schauffele, who last won on tour in 2022, will try to ride Thursday's momentum back to the winner's circle in Charlotte.