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Xander Schauffele, again, right in major mix at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Xander Schauffele is in what has change into acquainted territory. He’s near the highest of the leaderboard in a major championship.

He’s hoping Sunday isn’t extra of the identical on the subject of finishes.

Schauffele shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to get to 7 beneath via three rounds of the Masters, leaving him 4 photographs again of Hideki Matsuyama going into the ultimate spherical. He’s had 5 top-five finishes in majors, together with a tie for second — one shot behind winner Tiger Woods — at Augusta National in 2019.

And now comes one other probability for a major breakthrough.

“I think I’m playing really good golf,” Schauffele stated. “I was excited for today after yesterday, some of the iron shots I was able to hit. I’m excited for tomorrow as well.”

He’s had possibilities earlier than.

Schauffele briefly was atop the leaderboard on the again 9 at Augusta National in 2019, however did not make birdie on the par-5 fifteenth and wound up dropping to Woods by one. He didn’t even appear dissatisfied then, nearly thrilled to be a part of witnessing historical past. And in 2018, he was tied for the lead going into the ultimate spherical of the British Open — dropping there by two photographs to Francesco Molinari.

“It’s all part of the process,” Schauffele stated. “I’m a huge fan of putting myself in position with nine holes to go and learning from each and every mistake, and also the things I did well in those moments. Looking forward to tomorrow.”

Schauffele is in a cluster of 4 gamers at 7 beneath, joined by Marc Leishman, Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris. Schauffele caught maybe a little bit of a break at the par-4 18th when his strategy skipped right of the inexperienced and towards the spectators, his ball stopping solely after hitting the leg of somebody’s chair.

He salvaged par to stay in the tie for second.

“It was a good spot,” Schauffele stated.

He and Matsuyama had been on the eleventh gap when play was halted for a little bit greater than an hour as a line of thunderstorms made its manner into the world. The delay didn’t gradual him down; he made birdie on the par-5 thirteenth, then rolled in a 60-footer for eagle on the par-5 fifteenth.

That putt briefly pulled him even with Matsuyama; his taking part in associate rolled in a 5-footer for eagle at the fifteenth moments later, then made birdie on his subsequent two holes as effectively.

“I was happy to make my 60-foot eagle putt on 15,” Schauffele stated. “I knew Hideki was going to make his. I was just trying to stay in touch.”

Schauffele is 8 beneath on the par 5s this week, 1 over on every part else. But he has additionally prevented the massive mistake, and had his finest scoring spherical of the week on a day the place he missed seven greens and 6 fairways — his worst displaying of the week in each areas.

In different phrases, he is needed to battle to remain shut.

“My dinner will taste a little better,” he said as night fell on Augusta National after the third round. “I had a few putts coming down the stretch, one on 16 and up-and-down on 17 and another one on 18. So it wasn’t quite as nice as Hideki’s cleanup there on the last few holes, but I’ll take it.”

The 27-year-old Schauffele also has four top-six finishes in the U.S. Open, more proof that he can stay close in the toughest events.

And he has perspective as well.

“Golf consists of a bunch of losers, unfortunately,” Schauffele stated earlier in Masters week. “There’s only one guy that wins every week, and that’s how sports works. I think for my mental sanity it would be helpful for me to be a more consistent player.”

His major consistency is there.

The major win would possibly arrive Sunday.


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