American Xander Schauffele shot an 8-under 63 in round 2 of the Olympic Men’s Golf competition on Friday, vaulting him to the top of the leaderboard halfway through the competition at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, Japan, making him the heavy favorite to win the gold medal on Sunday here at the 2020 Tokyo summer games.
Schauffele leads Mexican Carlos Ortiz by one stroke going into Saturday’s third round of play, but 16 golfers still need to complete their second round after there were various delays due to severe weather on Friday.
Schauffele, who has struggled somewhat on the PGA Tour in 2021 despite being ranked in the World’s top 10, logged six birdies and two eagles during his second round.
“I just got in a nice flow there at the end,” Schauffele said after his round. “Kind of one of those situations where I wish I could play some more holes.”
Despite being American, Schauffele does have ties to Japan, as his mother was raised there. His grandparents still live in Japan and he debuted professionally in the country. His father was on pace to be an Olympic athlete in the decathlon for Germany, but he was involved in a car accident on the way to a training camp at age 20 and lost an eye, among other injuries.
Even though Ortiz is just one shot behind Schauffele, Ortiz doesn’t seem to be playing as well overall. He used a hot putter to overcome some mistakes in round two.
Masters winner and home-country medal favorite Hideki Matsuyama is three strokes behind the leader at -8, but he still has two more holes to play in round two and was at -6 on the day when play was stopped. Odds are naturally high on Matsuyama since he will be the sentimental favorite to win both a green jacket and gold medal in the same year and thrill his countrymen and women at the same time.
Europeans are next on the leaderboard, as Austrian Sepp Straka, after being the surprising leader after round one, sits three shots back of the lead at -8. Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, is at -7 and tied with Englishman Paul Casey and Shane Lowry of Ireland. Jhonattan Vegas, of Venezuela, is at -6 after playing well last week at the 3M Open.
Pre-tournament favorite Justin Thomas sits tied for 39th out of 60 at -1, but there are no cuts in this tournament, so he still has time to make a move over the weekend. The Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and Patrick Reed, both Americans, are at -3 through 36 holes.
|GOLFER||ODDS TO WIN THE MEN’S OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL|
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