We’re all excited to see Rickie Fowler back in contention, but Xander Schauffele is going to win this golf tournament. Schauffele’s record-tying 62 came about 20 minutes after Fowler’s, but unlike Rickie, X’s scorecard was square-free. Plus, I trust Schauffele to stick around much more than I trust Fowler.
Major championships are long, stressful affairs. Schauffele’s first round wasn’t. Throughout a round that paid homage to a dominant Brooks Koepka or 2015 Jason Day, Schauffele was lethal tee-to-green, avoided difficult spots, wore out the center of the face, and made light work of his birdie opportunities. Aside from one long birdie putt, nothing was lucky or surprising. It was clinical and effortless.
We’ve seen days like this out of Xander before. They’ve often come in the U.S. Open. In six starts in the event, Xander has five top-seven finishes and has never finished worse than T-14. His tee-to-green game is consistent enough to help him conquer any USGA setup, and when put on a golf course (like LACC) that separates the good drivers from the great drivers, he shines. As far as I’m concerned, the next 54 holes of competition are just a formality.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.