Xander Schauffele finished with a flourish to move three strokes off the lead at the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship in Japan on Friday.
The American, playing his first competition since the Ryder Cup, braved fierce winds to fire three birdies on the final five holes and card a 69 at Narashino Country Club.
Beau Hossler took the second-round lead at seven under, one stroke ahead of fellow American Justin Suh and two in front of Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira.
Schauffele had three bogeys before hauling himself back in contention at four under, and the Tokyo Olympics champion said the conditions were “hard” to deal with.
“It seemed to be a lot of crosswinds on most of the holes – made it hard to hit it close,” he said. “The par-fives were probably the only holes that you could birdie, and if you didn’t hit in the fairway, you’re struggling.”
Schauffele said he was “able to clean it up late” but was not sorry to return to the clubhouse when he did.
“I think everyone’s happy that the round’s over,” he said.
Overnight leader Collin Morikawa, also playing his first tournament since the Ryder Cup, carded a 73 to drop to three under.
Morikawa said he hit only three fairways all round and put himself “in some wrong spots” as he struggled to deal with the wind.
“I’ve just got to hit more fairways, that’s all it is,” said the twice Major winner. “Made the round extremely hard today not being able to hit those fairways.”
Defending champion Keegan Bradley was also on three under, while 2021 winner Hideki Matsuyama was on five over after carding a 76.
Hossler shot a 65 to take the sole lead at the 78-man, no-cut event on the outskirts of Tokyo.
“It’s a difficult golf course in spots, it’s a very gettable golf course in spots,” said Hossler. “That being said, playing in easily 20-to-30-mile-an-hour winds today was certainly a challenge.
“I’d say anything under par was a really quality score, so to shoot five under was incredible.”
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