ATLANTA — Masters champion Scottie Scheffler is taking part in each bit just like the No. 1 participant in golf and was on the verge of turning the Tour Championship right into a rout.
Three holes by Xander Schauffele modified every little thing going into the weekend at East Lake.
Schauffele holed a pair of birdie putts, after which drilled a 4-iron simply over the bunker and proper by the outlet on the par-5 18th, rolling in a 5-foot eagle putt.
The birdie-birdie-eagle end — Scheffler needed to accept pars — gave Schauffele a 7-under 63 as he went from a 6-shot deficit to 2 pictures behind Friday.
Schauffele not often will get overly excited, and this was no exception.
“It was good to select up some pictures late right here, however it’s only a positioning battle going into Sunday,” he stated. “There’s a number of golf to be performed on this property.
Scheffler wasn’t overly involved. He not often is.
“I am simply going to go on the market and do my factor and try to play good golf,” Scheffler stated. “Xander clearly has an awesome observe document round right here, however taking note of what different guys do on the golf course has by no means served me too nicely.”
Scheffler, who had a 66, was at 19 below par. He began at 10 below par because the No. 1 seed within the FedEx Cup — Schauffele began 4 pictures behind because the No. 4 seed — and had few complaints aside from not making each birdie likelihood, and so they had been ample.
Scheffler performed bogey-free. The 4 putts from 10 ft or nearer that he missed? He noticed these solely as alternatives, a reminder that he was taking part in the form of golf that carried him to an incredible stretch of 4 wins in two months — capped by the Masters — within the spring.
Beginning the day with a 5-shot lead, Scheffler made birdie from 5 ft on the par-3 second gap after which pounded driver on the following gap so completely that he had a flip wedge into 5 ft for an additional birdie. At that time, he was forward by 8 pictures.
Jon Rahm additionally had a 63 and labored his manner nearer to the highest at 13 below. He was being interviewed when he appeared up at a TV display to see if Scheffler had made one other birdie. He nonetheless was 6 pictures behind. Defending champion Patrick Cantlay (66) and Sungjae Im (65) had been 7 pictures again.
Rahm wasn’t certain if he put himself again within the combine, however his 63 made it really feel extra affordable.
“However he is taking part in good golf, proper? And we’ll should carry on going and play good golf, as nicely,” Rahm stated. “It’ll take a extremely robust weekend from me and hopefully not a robust one from Scottie. That is form of what we’re on the lookout for.”
Schauffele appeared to seek out that on the finish. He was 6 pictures behind when he hit his strategy to 12 ft behind a again left pin on the sixteenth and made the birdie. From the green on the seventeenth, his wedge spun again to 4 ft.
The 4-iron was daring and paid off.
“It was just a little proper of the place I needed, however it had the gap and the form. I hit it very well, so I wasn’t very fearful about it,” Schauffele stated. “Simply making an attempt to verify to cowl that nook and I hit it strong, so I knew it was going to cowl. For it to go to five, 6 ft was positively a bonus.”
Schauffele’s document round East Lake is astounding since he first arrived in 2017 as a PGA Tour rookie and received. The FedEx Cup was completely different that 12 months, primarily based on factors that had been reset for the ultimate occasion of the 12 months. Justin Thomas received the massive bonus. When the event moved to the staggered begin primarily based on seedings, he had the low rating over 72 holes when top-seeded Dustin Johnson received the FedEx Cup.
Regardless of the format, Schauffele has by no means shot worse than par in 22 rounds. He has solely two rounds at 70, the opposite 20 within the 60s.
That is not on his thoughts. Neither is the deficit he shrank to 4 pictures over the ultimate three holes.
“There’s rather a lot at stake right here, and staying current goes to be the toughest factor,” he stated.
At stake is the $18 million bonus and, for Schauffele, an opportunity to finish the 12 months with 4 PGA Tour titles. Scheffler desires to finish the very best 12 months in golf with a becoming crown. Seven months in the past, he nonetheless was on the lookout for his first PGA Tour title.
The perfect rating of the smooth, sunny day belonged to Max Homa, who had a 62 and nonetheless was 10 pictures behind.