September 25, 2021

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2021 Olympics: Xander Schauffele’s lead-securing 63 places U.S. firmly back in Olympic medal mix

KAWAGOE, Japan – Some may well have observed the storm looming around Kasumigaseki Country Club for a lot of Friday as a fitting metaphor for Staff United states of america.

When the weather conditions-warning horn blew for the 1st time just previous lunch, the Olympic fate of the U.S. facet seemed almost staggering with the foursome of People all toiling outdoors the top rated 10 on an international leaderboard.

In the buildup to this week’s Olympic men’s golf level of competition there were some extremist who flirted with the idea of an American sweep of the medal podium. But as the occasion inched towards the midway residence, a podium shutout was starting to truly feel just as most likely.

It wasn’t intended to be like this. The People began the 7 days with just about every probable edge. The U.S. is the only team to have more than two players in the subject and retains down the four maximum-ranked gamers. These points aren’t won on paper, but the Us residents had arrive by their favourite standing honestly.

That was until Patrick Reed started out to clearly show signs of jetlag next his whirlwind trip from Minnesota on Monday to Tokyo on Wednesday with out so a great deal as a observe round or correct night’s rest. Reed, who stepped in to replace Bryson DeChambeau following DeChambeau’s positive COVID-19 test, followed an opening 68 with an even-par energy and heads into the weekend at 3 below and 5 photographs outdoors of a spot on the podium.

Collin Morikawa was only marginally much better with a 1-underneath 70 Friday, and he was tied alongside Reed when Justin Thomas had faded into a tie for 39th when perform was finally halted for the working day by an additional storm just earlier dinner. (Enjoy will resume at 7:45 a.m. neighborhood time Saturday, 6:45 p.m. ET Friday, with 16 gamers still yet to full 36 holes the third spherical will be played in threesomes and off split tees, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:18 a.m. regional.)


Highlights: Schauffele takes direct immediately after Round 2


That remaining Schauffele to fly the American flag and make an motivated complete that swung momentum in Staff USA’s favor. The 27-calendar year-outdated introduced a ideal 3-wood at the flag on the par-5 14th gap and charged in a 43-footer for eagle. He followed that with birdies at Nos. 16, 17 and 18 to put the ending touches on an 8-under 63 and a a person-stroke direct around Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz.

In considerably less than an hour Schauffele swung the American fortunes and, at least temporarily, stopped the predictable handwringing – Where by is Staff United states? Where by ended up the undisputed favorites?

“If you just go by rating, but that’s not always the situation, is it?” Schauffele mentioned when asked if he regarded the American aspect the team to conquer. “This is unique, this is a different sort of design and style of golfing. If you happen to be kind of from Asia you happen to be sort of a lot more utilized to this grass in the fairway and the variety of circumstances and the warmth. I am not actually confident who would have the edge coming in.”

In fairness, contrary to most other Olympic sports, golf stretches the boundaries of the group notion. Players may be donning the same equipment, but it is however 72 holes of individual stroke engage in. They’ve practiced alongside one another, they’ve dined alongside one another and they’ve savored the working experience alongside one another, but eventually they all stand by yourself.


Full-area scores from the Olympic Men’s Level of competition


This isn’t intended to concern the American side’s mind-set or effort. The foursome that made the excursion to Japan did so for all the suitable explanations, but a Sunday celebration devoid of an American flag being elevated would be seen.

“It’s hard simply because it is a staff sport, but we are in this article playing as people today, there is no group,” Morikawa mentioned. “This is golfing. I think we have only found it selected moments throughout everyone’s job where by men are likely to complete top rated 3 just about every single match and that is the hardest point is that how do you discover a structure to where by other athletics are likely to demonstrate their greatest player. But that’s what can make golf wonderful is that anybody can play excellent at any specified time, appropriate?”

There’s a randomness to golf that doesn’t exist in most other Olympic sporting activities, and the People in america could just take some solace in the final Summertime Game titles in Rio. There have been no Americans inside of the top 10 via two rounds in 2016 before Matt Kuchar’s closing 63 retained the U.S. from getting shut out on the podium.

Schauffele matched Kuchar’s rating with his have 63 on Friday and in the approach changed a narrative that was turning into unpleasant for Group Usa.