Schauffele grabs CJ Cup lead with six-birdie streak

Xander Schauffele shot to the top of the leaderboard with a string of six consecutive birdies Friday, and he holds a three-shot lead at the midpoint of the CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek in Las Vegas.

After a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 at Shadow Creek Golf Course, Schauffele sits at 14-under 130 overall. First-round leader Tyrrell Hatton of England carded a 4-under 68 on Friday, leaving him in second place at 11 under.

Russell Henley (second-round 68) is in third place at 10 under, and Talor Gooch (65) holds fourth place at 9 under.

PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa (65) and Jason Kokrak (66) share fifth place at 8 under, and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick (68) is in seventh place.

Justin Thomas, who captured the CJ Cup last year when it was played in South Korea, shot a 66 and is among five players who are tied for eighth at 6 under. The event was moved from Asia to Nevada due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Schauffele, playing the back nine first, started par-birdie-par before his run of six straight birdies. His front nine was less eventful, featuring eight pars and a birdie at No. 7.

Schauffele said of the hot streak, “It was nice. I had a chip-in there, two long putts. Some of those holes you’re not really trying to birdie them, you’re kind of just trying to leave yourself an uphill 35-footer and fortunately I made a couple of them. It was a nice stretch.

“Got a little bit stale there on the other side. Pace of play slowed down a lot, kind of hot, easy to let the mind wander. Upset I didn’t make more birdies, but pleased I didn’t make any bogeys.”

Schauffele, ranked eighth in the world, continued his strong recent form. He tied for second place in the Tour Championship in early September, then came in fifth place in the U.S. Open later last month.

Hatton was 3 under for the day when he made the turn, but he experienced highs and lows on the back nine, recording four birdies and three bogeys. Following back-to-back bogeys, he closed with back-to-back birdies.

“It was an inconsistent day,” Hatton said. “Obviously I was disappointed with bogeys on 15 and 16. I hit a couple of poor shots there, especially the one that annoyed me the most was laying up with a 6-iron on 16 and we didn’t even look like hitting the fairway. So that’s just a stupid mistake, but obviously really happy with how we bounced back from that.

“Finishing birdie-birdie was nice and hopefully I can take a bit of momentum going into the weekend.”

Henley recorded five birdies against a single bogey.

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