Soft track brings low scores
Xander Schauffele of Team USA shot a sparkling eight-under 63 in the second round of the men's Olympic golf tournament Friday before the second round was abandoned for the day due to a late threat of lightning.
Schauffele is sharing the Olympic experience with his swing coach and father, Stefan, whose dreams of representing Germany in Olympic track and field were dashed nearly 40 years ago when he lost an eye in a car crash.
A 27-year-old California native, Schauffle made his father proud as he roared home with three consecutive birdies, rolling in a 13-foot putt on the 18th at Kasumigaseki Country Club to pass Mexico's Carlos Ortiz for the outright lead with an 11-under total of 131.
Moments after Schauffele's putt, play was suspended and then abandoned for the day, leaving his group and five others still to complete their rounds.
It was the third such disruption for the tournament and the second for the day, with play suspended for more than two hours just before midday.
Local favorite Hideki Matsuyama was among those whose second rounds were left hanging, but the Masters champion is well positioned going into the weekend.
Japan's first major winner, he has battled to recover after falling ill with COVID-19 earlier this month, but Matsuyama was among four tied for third at eight-under for the tournament when his round was cut short on the 17th.
Former world number one Rory McIlroy of Ireland is also in the mix after completing a round of 66 to stand a stroke further adrift in a group at seven-under.
"The goal today was to sort of get back in touch," McIlroy told reporters. "I just wanted to get in contention going into the weekend and still feel I was part of the tournament."
British Open champion Collin Morikawa (70) and former U.S. Ryder Cup hero Patrick Reed (71) have work to do over the weekend to threaten for medals. The pair were in a group tied at three-under, eight strokes adrift of Schauffele.
Bombs away on greens, not tees
Nobody bats an eye anymore when world-class golfers send tee shots 300, 325, 350 yards and sometimes more off the tee.
Tiger Woods was a freakishly big hitter and more or less on another planet in his prime, but replays of those Tiger Bombs seem almost quaint now. Nostalgic, even. Hitting the ball a mile is practically standard on the PGA (and LPGA) tours.
It's old hat, really. Yawn. You want to wake up a gallery these days? You've gotta drop bombs on the greens, too.
Which brings us to Schauffele, who rolled in a monster eagle putt to get to 8-under-par Friday, and he wasn't alone. Frenchman Antoine Rozner nailed a long eagle putt of his own while flirting with the fringes of the leaderboard.