Xander Schauffele’s young golf career is like a stung one-iron.
Impressive distance. Way under the radar.
Schauffele, who was born in La Jolla and attended San Diego State, heads into Sunday with a share of the lead in the British Open. He’s at nine under par, tied with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, after shooting a 67 at Carnoustie on Saturday.
He was in the same pairing with the ultra-popular Rory McIlroy and was the “other guy” despite his impressive round.
“I played in front of Rory’s crowd, I guess, and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he’s trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times,” said Schauffele, sounding thankful for his incognito status. “No one was yelling at me while I was putting.
“So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing, sort of the San Diego, SoCal vibe, whatever you call it. It’s cool with me. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
The way he’s playing, Schauffele won’t be in the shadows for long. He joined the PGA Tour last year, won two tournaments and rookie-of-the-year honors, finished tied for sixth at the U.S. Open last month and tied for fifth at the 2017 U.S. Open. Among his accomplishments this year, he tied for sixth at the U.S. Open and for second at the Players Championship.
“The finish I had last year, it boosted my expectations, just like it would to anyone else,” he said. “Maybe I put a lot more pressure on myself, which is also fine. And I feel like I’ve done OK maybe, nothing too crazy. So just like everyone says, the more you can put yourself into contention to win, that means you’re playing good golf. Sooner or later, you’re more likely to get it done.”
Made the cut
“He went a little high and tight,” said Spieth, who got the trim at a shop in town Saturday morning. “It was intended to be what I normally get. Instead, he went a little bit shorter. Very British haircut. A little shaved on the sides, a little longer on top. It is what it is. Summertime. It works out.”
Asked whether the barber recognized him, Spieth said: “I don’t think so. He didn’t really say much.”
The guy probably appreciated the tip, though. Spieth gave him 20 pounds (about $26) for a nine-pound cut.
Age is a number
It was another great day for 60-year-old Bernhard Langer, who shot a 68 Saturday. He made the cut, when the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, failed to do so, as did a lot of other notable players.
“You can really only do that in the game of golf,” said Langer, who won the Masters in 1985 and ’93. “You can’t do it in tennis or in soccer or whatever, because it’s all physical. Golf, there’s a lot more consistency. It’s strategy. And especially in links golf, you can play every hole three different ways, or two different ways for sure.
“Either way, you have to execute.”
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer