Schauffele leads Spieth, Thomas, Woodland, Morikawa, Grace at Colonial
Xander Schauffele closed with a birdie Saturday to cap off a round of 4-under 66 and take the outright lead on a jam-packed leaderboard at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Here’s where things stand heading into Sunday at Colonial, where 13 more players are within three shots of the 54-hole lead:
Leaderboard: Xander Schauffele (-13), Gary Woodland (-12), Justin Thomas (-12), Branden Grace (-12), Collin Morikawa (-12), Jordan Spieth (-12), Daniel Berger (-11), Harold Varner III (-11), Patrick Reed (-10), Abraham Ancer (-10), Corey Conners (-10), Justin Rose (-10), Rory McIlroy (-10), Bryson DeChambeau (-10)
What it means: Schauffele is chasing his fifth PGA Tour victory and his first of the 2019-20 season after a pair of playoff losses, first to McIlroy in November at the WGC-HSBC Champions and then to Thomas in January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Standing in Schauffele’s way is a collection of top names on Tour, all of whom would love nothing more than to kick off the return to competition by slipping on a plaid jacket. At the top of that list is Spieth, chasing his 12th PGA Tour win, his second victory at Colonial and his first victory of any kind since the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Mired in a multi-year slump, the former world No. 1 has slipped all the way to 54th in the Official World Golf Ranking. With a win Sunday, he can reassert himself by taking the first event of the Tour’s mid-pandemic restart and put himself back in the conversation for a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team after being left off last December’s Presidents Cup roster.
Proven pack of winners: Of the top 14 players on the leaderboard, only two haven’t lifted a trophy on the PGA Tour: Varner and Ancer. Six of those 14 – Spieth, Rose, Woodland, Thomas, Reed and McIlroy – are major champions. Four of them – Spieth, Rose, Thomas and McIlroy – have claimed the FedExCup. Rose, like Spieth, is a past champion at Colonial.
Biggest disappointments: Of the top 21 players on the leaderboard, only Varner and DeChambeau, playing in the last and second-to-last pairing, respectively, failed to break par Saturday.
Round of the day: Since finding himself even par and outside the cut line more than midway through his second round, Patrick Reed is a bogey-free 10 under par over his last 25 holes at Colonial Country Club. He shot up the leaderboard Saturday with a 7-under 63 that ties for the round of the week. Reed opened his round with three straight circles, strung together three more on Nos. 9-11 and added one more at the home hole. He’ll enter Sunday three back, tied for ninth at 10 under par.
Shot of the day: Schauffele’s 12-footer for birdie at 18 to take the outright lead by one.
Quote of the day: Pat Perez, after his drive at 14.
Storylines to watch Sunday: Can Schauffele shake off the near-misses and prove himself as a closer? Can Spieth snap a nearly three-year winless drought? Can Varner break through for his first PGA Tour victory after breaking through as one of the Tour’s leading voices for social justice? Can Morikawa rip off his second win in just a year on Tour? Can proven winners in Rose, Woodland, Thomas and Grace outclass everyone else on this star-studded leaderboard? Can Berger shake off the wrist injury that stalled his career and re-emerge as a Tour winner? Can McIlroy extend his consecutive top-five finish streak to eight events in a row? Can Reed finally crack the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking? Can DeChambeau add an extra-large trophy to his new collection of extra-large shirts?