Xander Schauffele’s psychotic streak at Tour Championship you won’t believe has him contending again

Xander Schauffele’s psychotic streak at Tour Championship you won’t believe has him contending again

ATLANTA — Xander Schauffele should be named the owner of East Lake Golf Club.

Every time he steps foot on the property for the Tour Championship, he dominates the place.

He did so again Friday, carding a bogey-free, 6-under 64 to shoot up the leaderboard and into contention for the FedEx Cup, just as our editor, Kendall Capps, predicted. He is now 12-under for the tournament.

“You have to sort of plot around the property well, and if you can get your putter going, the greens are so pure you feel like you can start rolling anything in,” Schauffele said Friday. “It just fits my eye… I play pretty well [here], and I will need more of that magic here on the weekend.”

Xander Schauffele, PGA Tour, Tour Championship

Xander Schauffele hits a tee shot during the second round of the 2023 Tour Championship.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Schauffele has invoked magic upon East Lake for his entire career. Since his first Tour Championship in 2017, Schauffele has played 26 rounds. His scoring average is 67.11, which ranks lowest in PGA Tour history among those players with at least 10 career rounds at East Lake.

What is even crazier about Schauffele’s dominance is he has never carded an over-par score at the Tour Championship.

The key to dominating East Lake, according to Schauffele, is finding the short grass.

“If you’re hitting the fairway, you can be [aggressive],” Schauffele said. “But the course will eat you alive if you’re not in the fairway. You can manage your way around the property, but for the most part, if you try to run up this leaderboard, you have to start from the fairway.”

Schauffele found 8-of-14 fairways Friday, which is not great, but he still led the field in overall strokes gained during the second round.

He made six birdies, and he found the short grass on each of those holes.

But the former San Diego State Aztec teetered on the brink of disaster down the stretch.

“The ending was a little bit of a scramble,” he admitted. “I made a couple of nice mid-range putts on 16 and 18. That par on 17 was big for me.”

At the dogleg left par-4 17th, Schauffele hooked one well left of the fairway and was obscured by trees.

He hit his second shot into the front bunker but easily got up and down from there.

That is how players ‘manage’ their way around East Lake, taking their medicine from mishits and playing for pars when needed.

But Schauffele will have to play for birdies on Saturday, as he faces a four-shot deficit to Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa after 36 holes of play.

“I just [have to] keep my head down,” he said. “I look up at the [leaderboard], and I’m just barely picking up ground, so I still [have] a lot to do.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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