Phoenix Open 2021: Xander Schauffele Shoots 2nd-Round 64, Takes 1-Shot Lead

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 6, 2021

Xander Schauffele hits from the second tee on the South Course during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Xander Schauffele hasn't won a PGA Tour event since January 2019 and looked like someone determined to end that streak Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. 

Schauffele rose five spots on the leaderboard thanks to a second-round 64 that featured an epic back nine in which the 27-year-old strung together four birdies and an eagle to reach 12-under on the weekend. That put him more than safely ahead of the projected cut line of three-under at TPC Scottsdale. 

Golf Channel @GolfChannel

.@XSchauffele had a 🔥 back nine today. He holds the solo lead at the @WMPhoenixOpen. https://t.co/eFL25TKANw

A number of PGA stars weren't so lucky. Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Harris English, Luke Donald, Cameron Champ, Troy Merritt, Padraig Harrington and Charl Schwartzel all finished on the wrong side of the cut.

Here's how things look for the rest of the field. 


Phoenix Open Friday Leaderboard

1. Xander Schauffele (-12)

T-2. Steve Stricker (-11)

T-2. Keegan Bradley (-11)

T-4. Scottie Scheffler (-10)

T-4. Sam Burns (-10)

7. Nate Lashley (-9)

T-8. Billy Horschel (-8)

T-8. Jordan Spieth (-8)

T-8. James Hahn (-8)

T-8. Matthew NeSmith (-8)

T-8. Brooks Koepka (-8)

T-8. J.T. Poston (-8)

T-8. Patton Kizzire (-8)

T-8. Carlos Ortiz (-8)

Notables: T-16. Justin Thomas (-7); T-27. Rory McIlroy (-5); T-55. Matthew Wolff (-3); T-55. Bubba Watson (-3); T-84. Jason Day (-1, Cut); T-97. Rickie Fowler (E, Cut); T-106. Gary Woodland (+1, Cut)

Full leaderboard via PGA.com 



Schauffele's run on the back nine was an unexpected bonus for viewers. The Californian sank just one birdie on the front nine after shooting a first-round 66 Thursday. Once he hit the tee at the 12th hole—starting his run of four straight holes under par—Schauffele was as dialed in as ever. 


Birdie-Birdie-Birdie-Eagle for @XSchauffele on his last 4 holes. He's tied for the lead @WMPhoenixOpen. #QuickHits https://t.co/mQaEBgApss

He drove an average of 325 yards on Friday, curving his shots around plenty of water and sand in order to attack the green on the latter holes. On the 18th hole, he hit his driver 303 yards over a water hazard and into a bunker, which would've caused some trouble had Schauffele not put his second shot less than five feet from the cup.     

He'll want to maintain whatever rhythm he discovered at the end of his round as a strong field looks to make up ground Saturday.


Eagle for @JordanSpieth. 🦅 He's 9 under and 2 back of the lead @WMPhoenixOpen. #QuickHits https://t.co/M1V1hjdive


Nearly dunked it. 😲 Nearly spun it in. 😯 An absolute dart from @JustinThomas34. 🎯 #QuickHits https://t.co/hzr2cLb6ra


A perfect pitch shot from @JustinThomas34. He's 4 shots back @WMPhoenixOpen. #QuickHits https://t.co/Av7F31daoE

That starts with Justin Thomas, who moved up 34 spots on the leaderboard with a round of 65 Friday. Thomas sank nine birdies and could've found himself challenging for the lead after two rounds had he not stumbled with a bogey on the par-five third hole and a double-bogey on a par-four No. 10. 

The same goes for Jordan Spieth, who put together back-to-back rounds of 67 to begin the weekend and finds himself four strokes off the lead. Spieth has struggled with consistency in recent years, so watching the 27-year-old veteran post three straight birdies on the back nine after playing a front nine that featured one bogey was a welcome sight.  


An all-desert par save for @McIlroyRory. 🌵 #QuickHits https://t.co/xMujiHxrgf

A number of players should make a charge on the leaderboard as moving day kicks into gear. 

They'll all start out chasing Schauffele. How long that lasts is up to him.