Xander Schauffele, with an eye on Ryder Cup, leads by two; Tiger Woods' even-par 70 drops him five back
Xander Schauffele on Friday put together a second-straight round that conceivably could re-open his candidacy to fill the final spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Schauffele, 24, shot a six-under par 64 in the wake of an opening round of 63 in the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia. He opened a two-stroke lead over Justin Rose, and three over Rickie Fowler, Alex Noren, Hideki Matsuyama and Keegan Bradley.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, followed an opening round of 62 with an even-under 70 that included bogeys on his final two holes. He now trails by five. And Rory McIlroy, who share the first-round lead with Woods, shot a one-under 69 and is four back, as are Justin Thomas and Jason Day.
"I didn't make any putts," Woods said. "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 but looked like all the putts were going to go in but they didn't go in today. I hit it just as good [as he did on Thursday] and putted it just as good. Nothing went in. That's the way it goes."
Schauffele, who won the Tour Championship last year, hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and leads the field in strokes gained/putting, a combination guaranteed to deliver a low score.
“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.
Schauffele finished 12th in Ryder Cup points, ahead of Tony Finau, 15th in points. But Finau, based on his form of late, generally has been considered a lock to join the U.S. team when Captain Jim Furyk makes a decision next week.
“Obviously I thought a lot more about it the past couple of weeks,” Schauffele said. “You know, I'm sort of in a position where I feel like a win is the only way I'd even be in consideration. Tony obviously 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, you know, hats off to him for playing really well.”
Finau is tied for 11th, trails by five and is attempting to keep from looking ahead. “I've been playing good golf all year and I don’t need to put more pressures on myself than what’s already there,” he said. “The possibilities are cool, the potential of what could happen, but nothing good comes from thinking too far ahead. I got a couple rounds in front of me, 36 holes to try and win this tournament, and winning takes care of everything.”