Despite how it sounded, Schauffele has best day
AUGUSTA — Xander Schauffele didn’t feel like he was the catalyst of many of the loudest roars around Augusta National on Friday evening. He accurately attributed most of those to Tiger Woods.
That didn’t mean the 25-year-old, playing in his second Masters, wasn’t playing good golf. He was actually playing some of the best golf of the day.
“I just thought since I was tapping in for birdies, two-putt birdies aren’t that exciting, but I’ll take them all day,” Schauffele said.
He certainly did make birdies all day – eight to be exact – en route to a second-round 65 and a tie for sixth just one stroke off the lead.
Not bad considering he started the day seven strokes back.
“I felt like I did well all around. It was a bit softer so you could be a bit more aggressive on your landing areas or zones,” Schauffele said. “I felt like yesterday I missed the putts I was supposed to make. Today, I made most of the putts I was supposed to make as a pro, so much cleaner round.”
While the day got off to a slow start for Schauffele – with a bogey on No. 1 – the opposite was the case for Augusta native Charles Howell III. It was Howell’s strong start that catapulted him into contention.
Howell also made up some ground on the day, picking up three strokes on the leaders. Howell got the momentum going with four birdies on the front nine.
“I think that starting with a par at the first and birdieing the second, I kind of calmed down a bit. Out here you never know, man, I always kind of hold my breath around here,” Howell said. “I’ve seen every good and bad shot this golf course has to offer. So it keeps my attention for all 18 holes, I promise.”
The concentration paid off on the back nine. He bounced back from a bogey on 11 with an eagle on 13. The 36-fooot putt on 13 was significant for multiple reason. Not only did it move him to within three shots of the leaders, it was the first eagle he made at Augusta National in his nine Masters appearances. He closed out with pars the rest of the way.
Both golfers alluded to controlling emotions being the big factor going into the weekend
“If you hit the right shots in the right spots you can make some eagles, but it’s also about being extremely patient,” Howell said. “It is the weekend and it’s the Masters and there’s a lot that goes into that with emotions, etcetera, but, yeah, just do the best you can.”
Schauffele, playing in his second Masters, is going to try to avoid the seemingly unavoidable leaderboards around Augusta National.
“Unfortunately there’s a leaderboard on almost every hole so you can always know where you’re standing amongst the leaders,” he said. “I think we’ll just have to first stick to our own – old cliché – stick to your own game plan and keep your head down.”