FORT WORTH, Texas – Xander Schauffele entered this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge having played the tournament three times, spanning eight rounds, two missed cuts and only one score in the 60s.
He does tee it up in Sunday’s final round with a one-shot lead at 13-under par after having shot two 66s and a 65 this week at Colonial.
“Playing it more makes me more comfortable, obviously, so that helps,” Shauffele said Saturday. “But I think in previous years it was much windier and I began to play the greens as great. It’s just a comfort factor. My caddie has gotten better, as well, in terms of picking lines and doing his job. So, I think collectively started doing a better job preparing for this week. ”
Schauffele, who has four career PGA Tour victories, will have to stave off some big names on Sunday if they’re going to win a fifth.
Reigning U.S. Open champions Gary Woodland, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Branden Grace are all one shot back at 12-under.
Harold Varner III and Daniel Berger are two shots back at 11-under.
And No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, Abraham Ancer and Corey Connors are just three back at 10-under.
You’re a lot of firepower nipping at Schauffele’s heels.
Asked if, with the stout field, this feels like a major championship, Schauffele said, “I think the fans sort of make majors, as well, so not having any out here is a bit tricky. But you look at the names on the leaderboard, just sort of what I expected, just everybody coming out of a quarantine to play, and I think the next three weeks that will really show. ”
He said Sunday, with no fans, might feel like an amateur event.
“I think it feels almost like amateur golf or junior golf where we all want to win,” Schauffele said. “We all want to compete, and compete all super competitive. When we were younger and playing in college or over the summer an amateur schedule, it was quiet. There were any fans out there, and we were all kind of going head-to-head, and everyone wanted it just as much as the next guy in line.
“I sort of feel like it might kind of feel like that [Sunday] Where is coming down the stretch if you are in the hunt, it is really quiet and everyone is going to be minding their own business. ‘