Xander Schauffele makes his case for Ryder Cup pick by taking BMW lead

Xander Schauffele, looking to make a final impression on U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, shot a six-under 64 Friday at the BMW Championship to take a two-shot lead.

With time running out to impress U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, Xander Schauffele made his best case for the team on Friday. The 24-year-old San Diego native followed up his opening round 63 with a six-under 64 at the BMW Championship to take a two shot lead into the weekend.

Schauffele made seven birdies in his second round at Aronimink Golf Club, including three straight on holes five through seven. Along the way, he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and didn’t miss a putt within 10 feet, leading the field on Friday in strokes gained: putting. That included a 42-footer for birdie at the 11th and a 21-foot birdie at the 17th.

Schauffele came into the week 41st in the FedEx Cup standings and in danger of missing out on the Tour Championship in two weeks, as only the top 30 make the field at East Lake. He is now projected to go as high as sixth with a win. Getting back to East Lake holds an even greater importance for Schauffele, who is defending champion after outlasting Cup champion Justin Thomas last year.

The Ryder Cup is also on his mind this week. Schauffele finished 12th in the American points race, and is one of the favorites to get Furyk’s final captain’s pick. Furyk will make the pick on Monday morning after the BMW Championship.

Schauffele believes he holds his own destiny in his hands if he can win this weekend. “Obviously I thought a lot more about it the past couple of weeks,” he said after his round on Friday. “You know, I’m sort of in a position where I feel like a win is the only way I’d even be in consideration.”

Not to be outdone, Tony Finau, Schauffele’s biggest competition for the coveted captain’s pick, matched his 64 on Friday. Finau made five birdies on his second nine to climb up to 12th on the leaderboard, five shots behind Schauffele.

It might be a two-man race to round out the American team that will go to Paris on Sept. 28, but Finau says he isn’t looking beyond playing well this weekend. Like Schauffele, he thinks a win this week will speak for itself.

“I’ve been playing good golf all year and I don’t need to put more pressures on myself than what’s already there,” he said. “The possibilities are cool, the potential of what could happen, but nothing good comes from thinking too far ahead. I got a couple rounds in front of me, 36 holes to try and win this tournament, and winning takes care of everything.”

Finau was three spots behind Schauffele in the Ryder Cup points race, but his play this year, including top 10 finishes at the first three major championships, puts him slightly ahead. Even Schauffele recognizes that Finau has the upper hand on him.

“Tony obviously is the guy right now. He just shot 64 as well,” he said. “He’s not making it easy on anyone else trying to get on that team. So, you know, hats off to him for playing really well.”

Furyk made his first three picks on Tuesday, going with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.

Woods came into the second round of the BMW tied for the lead with Rory McIlroy after an opening 62, but struggled with his putting on Friday and shot an even-par 70 to fall to 12th. He had 33 putts in the second round after just 27 on Thursday. McIlroy, meanwhile, followed up his 62 with a one-under 69 and is four shots behind Schauffele. Justin Rose is in second place after a bogey-free 63 to get within two of the lead.

Schauffele and Rose tee off in the final pairing on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. EST.