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ATLANTA – As a storm rolled in to East Lake on Friday afternoon, Xander Schauffele welcomed it with open arms.
Schauffele had just carded his second straight birdie at No. 9 and made the turn in 1-over 36, trailing his first-round co-leaders by four. Then the rain came and players sat through a delay that lasted just over an hour and a half. Those who were in the groove – Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas both carded three outward-nine birdies – probably despised the weather horn.
“Probably the first time I can say that I’m very stoked to have a delay,” Schauffele said following his second-round 69. “I came back out swinging it much better than I did on the front nine. So it was a nice reset.”
Swinging it wasn’t the issue Friday. The putter disappeared for Schauffele, who dropped another shot at the par-3 11th after coming up short of the green in the rough. A high chip left him 7 feet for par, but he couldn’t get the putt to drop.
The 2017 Tour Championship winner saved the best for last, however, with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th and a round-salvaging eagle on the 18th from just inside of 24 feet.
“For how hard East Lake is, I gave myself a lot of good looks, uphill looks, and I didn’t make too many putts,” Schauffele said. “It was nice to finish birdie, eagle.”