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Schauffele rises with a four-stroke lead at Wells Fargo

Schauffele rises with a four-stroke lead at Wells Fargo

Xander Schauffele spent most of the year at the top of the leaderboard. Now he hopes to close the door.

Schauffele shot a 4-under 67 on Friday after opening with a 64, leaving him at 11-under 131 and four shots ahead of Rory McIlroy and Jason Day heading into the weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Taylor Moore and Sungjae Im were five strokes back at 6 under.

The 30-year-old Schauffele has seven top 10 finishes this season, but no wins. He is looking to snap a winless streak dating back to July 2022 at the Genesis Scottish Open.

”There’s been a few knocks on the door and I tell myself to keep knocking,” Schauffele said.

Schauffele said the drought is something he always thinks about, but added that the hardest part is just staying in the present.

”You just have to recognize the situation you’re in and realize that you play good golf and sometimes you just get out of the way,” Schauffele said.

Schauffele’s was locked up most of the day.

He hit 15 greens and his only hiccup came when he made a bogey on the 18th hole while trying to rush to finish his round and beat a storm that would suspend play for about an hour. Play eventually resumed, but Schauffele feared he would have to get up early to play a few shots and then wait several hours to play his third round on Saturday.

“It sucks to say it, but I’d rather take the 5 right now after hitting such a bad chip than wake up super early and have to reset my day,” Schauffele said. ”It’s all good.” McIlroy entered the day three shots behind Schauffele, but managed to lose ground despite not making a bogey. McIlroy finished with a 68. He had several opportunities to pressure Schauffele, but missed a few makeable putts.

Still, the Northern Ireland star walked away feeling good about his game.

“I felt like I probably could have gotten a few more out of the round, but anytime you can go around this golf course bogey-free it’s always going to be a decent day,” said McIlroy, who played the final with Shane Lowry won. Zurich Classic two weeks ago.

The world No. 2 player has already had some spectacular weekend performances at Quail Hollow, including a club-record 61 in 2015. He closed with a 62 in 2010 to win his first PGA Tour title.

He said he’ll lean on that as he sets his sights on catching Schauffele.

”Anytime you play on a golf course where you’ve had really low scores, you know it’s there,” McIlroy said. “The golf course is playing a lot differently this week than it did in 2010 and 2015, but I know if I do well here I can make some birdies and chase him down.” McIlroy is the only three-time winner of the event, and said the course just suits his game well because it allows him to take advantage of his distance off the tee.

“I’ve had so many good memories here, I just feel a positive vibe,” McIlroy said. ”I feel good about myself walking around here.” Day also had a 67. The Australian has struggled of late, with just one top 25 finish in his last six events.

”I’ve had a run the last month and a half, two months of just bad play and bad batting,” Day said. “I’ve lost a lot of strokes because of the field’s approach to the green, not necessarily because of the driver. It’s weird, it’s kind of strange to drive it decently and hit it poorly coming into the greens.” Max Homa, the only player other than McIlroy with multiple wins at the Wells Fargo Championship, was eight shots behind after a 70 . Justin Thomas was also 3 under after a 71. AP SSC SSC

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