He's just 24 years old, one of the youngest competitors at the BMW Championship, and in his second year on the PGA Tour, but Xander Schauffele says he's "sort of on a mission."
He hasn't accomplished his mission yet, but two days of play at Aronimink Golf Club have put Schauffele in a good position to capture the third of four FedExCup playoff events and help him reap the resulting benefits.
Schauffele followed his opening-round 63 with a 6-under-par 64 Friday on a pleasant day in Newtown Square and held a 2-stroke lead over Justin Rose. His score of 13-under 127 at the halfway point is 1 stroke off the lowest 36-hole score on the PGA Tour this year.
Rose, who won at Aronimink in 2010 at the AT&T National, shot a 63 to climb into second at 129. A four-way tie for third at 130 consisted of Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, and Alex Noren. Bradley and Matsuyama carded 64s; Fowler, 65; and Noren, 66.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who fired 62s Thursday to share the 18-hole lead, fell in the standings in Round 2. Woods bogeyed his final two holes for a 70 and 132, tying him for 12th, and McIlroy had a 69 for 131 and a share of seventh place.
Schauffele began the week 41st on the FedExCup points list and sought to move into the top 30 so he could defend his title in the season-ending Tour Championship in two weeks at East Lake in Atlanta. A win here could help his cause in gaining the 12th and final spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when that announcement is made Monday.
For the 2017 PGA Tour rookie of the year, however, it's all about the finish. He has two runner-up showings this year, at the Players Championship and the British Open, but a win is what he's after.
"I have lots to prove to myself," Schauffele said. "I just want to win and kind of handle my business, and I feel like I haven't been doing that as well on the weekends, maybe too relaxed or whatnot. I feel like I've sort of been a little more focused this week and a little more serious.
"I always thought I was rather a clutch player coming down the stretch and this year has said otherwise. I'm trying to prove it to myself again."
Well, 15 birdies the last two days is some serious golf. On Friday, he was 5-under for his round through 11 holes before his only missed green of the day led to a bogey at 12. Back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17 gave him a 4-shot cushion in the clubhouse before Rose cut into the deficit.
Schauffele is trying to become the first player to defend a title at the Tour Championship. As for the Ryder Cup, he is 12th on the points list and the 11 players ahead of him are all on the team. However, Tony Finau (No. 15) appears to have the inside track on the final spot.
"Tony obviously is the guy right now," he said. "He just shot 64 as well. He's not making it easy on anyone trying to get on that team."
Rose went bogey-free and rolled in a 60-foot bomb at 13 for one of his seven birdies. He appreciated the support of the crowds that remembered his victories at Aronimink and at Merion in the 2013 U.S. Open.
"Cheesesteaks, I guess … must be something in the water around here for sure," he said. "I get good support around here. Nice when they're reminding you all the time that it's your town as well."