Schauffele rides hot start to three-shot lead at CJ Cup in Las Vegas

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Xander Schauffele rolled in six straight birdies en route to an eight-under par 64 and a three-shot lead after the second round of the US PGA Tour's CJ Cup in Las Vegas on Friday.

Schauffele's 14-under total of 130 saw him vault over first-round leader Tyrrell Hatton, who finished the day in second on 11-under at Shadow Creek.

Schauffele, coming off a fifth-place finish at the US Open, started on No. 10 and shot 29 on his front nine, stringing together six birdies from the 13th through the 18th.

He then cooled coming in, but still finished with a bogey-free round.

"I got off to a hot start and kind of slowed down. But I am just happy I made that par putt on the last," said Schauffele.

"Got a little bit stale there on the other side. The pace of play slowed down a lot. It was kind of hot and easy to let the mind wander. I am upset I didn't make more birdies, but pleased I didn't make any bogeys."

England's Hatton, who is coming off a European Tour win last weekend, shot 66 for 133.

American Russell Henley was alone in third after shooting a 68 for 134 and Talor Gooch sits fourth following a 65 for a nine-under 135.

Schauffele led by five at the turn.

He had birdied his second hole, the 11th, and after a par at the 12th launched his run.

On the par-three 13th, he landed his 212-yard tee shot just two feet from the hole.

He then drained back-to-back long bombs, making a 26-foot putt on the par-four 14th and a 37-footer on the par-four 15th.

On his final hole on the front, Schauffele landed his 98-yard approach 13 feet from the cup. He would make the putt for his sixth straight birdie.

It was one of the best birdie runs of his career, and just behind the seven straight he made at this event in 2018 when it was played in its typical location South Korea.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the CJ Cup to be played in the United States this year.

"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," he said.

Hatton had a mixed round of seven birdies, three bogeys and eight pars on Friday, but managed to close out his round with two straight birdies.

"It was an inconsistent day. Obviously I was disappointed with bogeys," Hatton said. "Finishing birdie-birdie was nice and hopefully I can take a bit of momentum going into the weekend."

Defending champion Justin Thomas, who won the event last year on Jeju Island, shot a 66 and was tied for eighth with four others at six-under 138