Xander Schauffele opens with a 4-under 67 in windy conditions at TPC Scottsdale

Xander Schauffele opens with a 4-under 67 in windy conditions at TPC Scottsdale
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Xander Schauffele has been one shot out of a playoff each of the past two years at the WM Phoenix Open, and he’s put himself in position for another exciting weekend after an opening round 4-under 67 in windy conditions at TPC Scottsdale.

Wind isn’t typically a factor in Scottsdale, and the difficult conditions caught the Las Vegas resident a bit off guard when he arrived at the course Thursday morning.

“You just don’t expect it coming here,” Schauffele said. “It’s Arizona; it’s not Las Vegas where it blows every day.”

Full-field scores from the WM Phoenix Open

The Olympic gold medalist made tough conditions look rather simple in the opening round. In fact, after birdies at 13 and 15, his only bogey came via a three-putt after finding the putting surface with his tee shot at the famous par-3 16th.

Schauffele was asked about the 16th and whether he got booed after his three-putt.

“I was the loser of the group, hitting it to 50 feet and three-putting,” he said. “Yeah [got booed]. I was booing myself in my own head, too, though.”

The lone mistake at 16 was quickly neutralized with a birdie at the short par-4 17th.  Schauffele, who began his round on the 10th hole, added birdies at Nos. 1 and 5 after making the turn.

Schauffele’s approach play was the key to his success in a round in which he found just six fairways. Despite the lack of accuracy off the tee, Schauffele hit 15 greens in regulation and gained more than two strokes approaching the green on Day 1.

Rory McIlroy hit only four of 14 fairways en route to shooting his first over-par opening round since the Masters.

Since withdrawing from the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a back injury, Schauffele has finished T-3 at The American Express and T-13 at the Farmers Insurance Open. With his back feeling much better than it did a month ago, the sixth-ranked player in the world will look to stay hot in Phoenix and capture his third PGA Tour victory since June.

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