Xander Schauffele flexes competitive resilience to contend at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele continues to impress at Valhalla Golf Club as he leads after Day 2 of the 2024 PGA Championship. He fired off a 3-under 68 to sit at 12-under on the tournament and hold a one-shot lead over Collin Morikawa.

Schauffele had to fight hard on Friday. He went out in 32 strokes, making three birdies in the process. He went birdie-bogey on 10 and 11 on the back nine, then settled for par the rest of the way home.

The 7-time PGA Tour winner showed a lot of grit on Friday to maintain the top spot on the PGA Championship leaderboard.

“When you haven’t won a golf tournament in a few years, you have to be pretty resilient,” Schauffele said.

“I’m just patient and trying to play the best golf I can and stay out of my way. I know I’m playing really good golf right now, and all I can do is focus on my process and my talk with Austin, and that’s about it.”

This week marks the second tournament in a row with him in contention heading into the weekend. Schauffele fell short last week as Rory McIlroy’s incredible Sunday round capsided the 30-year-old’s momentum.

Despite not having a victory since the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open, he did not let another runner-up finish bum him out. Schauffele got right back to work for Valhalla, and it is paying off so far.

“I was bummed out I didn’t win, but I knew I was playing well,” he said. “I had a couple of hiccups there on Sunday at the wrong time. Rory played unbelievably well. I know how I’m hitting it, and my biggest concern was having enough rest to learn this golf course in time before we teed off on Thursday.”

PGA Championship, Xander Schauffele, Valhalla

Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

It is his first time playing Valhalla. In Round 1, he was No. 2 in strokes gained putting, picking up 4.167 shots. However, Schauffele did a 180-degree shift on Friday as he was No. 115 in strokes gained, losing 1.203 strokes to the field on the putting greens.

He knows that in a leaderboard like this, with so many players within striking distance, the weekend will be about staying in his lane. If Shauffele wants to win his first major championship, he must put his blinders on and get ruthless on the course.

“I think as soon as 62 was posted, there’s just blood in the water,” he said. “If the roles were reversed, it’s sort of like everyone sort of feels they can shoot low now. That’s just how it goes out here. So, I think it helps to keep the head down, at least for now. It’s only two rounds.”

Schauffele and Morikawa will tee off together on Saturday after the rest of the field completes the second round. Play stopped at 8:41 p.m. ET due to darkness, with a handful of groups left to finish their 36 holes.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.

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