Due to dangerous weather in the area, the second round was suspended at 5:20 pm (local).— Olympic Golf (@OlympicGolf) July 30, 2021
A suspended second round at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has a familiar face at the very top of the leaderboard. Xander Schauffele shot an 8-under 63 to match the round of the week and will take a one-stroke margin over Carlos Ortiz into the weekend.
The second day of play at Kasumigaseki Country Club had myriad starts and stops because of dangerous weather in the area just outside of Tokyo. Play was finally called for good late in the day in Japan, and the 16 golfers out on the course will resume their second rounds early on Saturday morning.
Let's take a look at what the leaderboard will look like when they do and how it's starting to take some real shape for the weekend.
1. Xander Schauffele (-11): Schauffele bided his time Thursday with a 68 before his round-of-the-day 63 on Friday in which he made six birdies and two (!) eagles. The terrifying part for the field is that Schauffele didn't even putt it that well. He gained less than a stroke on the greens because he gained over five from tee to green, the best of which was the tee ball he hit on the 337-meter par-4 6th hole to just over 10 feet (he made that putt for one of his two eagles). Like many of the top players, he'll get rolling like that sometimes and it's scary. He's now +150 to win this event.
"I've been pressing pretty hard for quite a little bit of time to win a golf tournament to be completely honest," Schauffele said after his brilliant round. "So I think there's a part, a point in today where I was starting to get a little impatient and I kind of had to remind myself back to the times I did win and the times I've been watching other people win while I've been kind of sitting to the side. They seem to be pretty patient and staying in the moment. So it's only Friday and we're thinking way ahead, but I'm just going to try and stay as patient as possible coming through to the finish line."
2. Carlos Ortiz (-10): Ortiz's number seems the least sustainable right now. He's a good player, one of the more underrated players in this field, but he's not hitting it all that well right now, and his score is a reflection of a putter that's been smoking thus far. Worse ball-strikers have, of course, won tournaments with their putter before, but with the quality of player rising up around him, I would be surprised at this point if he medaled, although if he does it would be a pretty awesome moment.
"I think [Mexico is] excited about any kind of medal," said Ortiz. "That's the beauty of these games. I don't think it matters what sport or how you look or what you're doing, it matters of putting the flag up there and getting a medal for your country and that's the beauty of these games."
T3. Mito Pereira, Alex Noren, Sepp Straka, Hideki Matsuyama (-8): Obviously the big story here is Matsuyama, who is 6 under on the day and 8 under on the week with two holes to go in his second round. He's been flawless through the first 16 and is charging toward what would be an all-time green jacket/gold medal double with the latter coming in his home country. He is now the story going into the weekend.
T7. Jazz Janewattananond, Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Paul Casey (-7): McIlroy caught some fire in the middle of his round and was picking off pins from distance like he was vying for the sharpshooting gold and not the golf one. McIlroy was asked after his round if his general ambivalence toward this event (at least leading into it) has been helpful shooting 7 under through the first two days.
"Yeah and it's funny, when you sort of approach tournaments like that, it's funny how you end up playing some of your best golf," said McIlroy.
He's also come around a bit regarding the importance and magnitude of the Olympics so it's going to be interesting to see if he can hold that equilibrium of care and thoughtfulness toward this event and whether it leads to one of the few feats he has yet to achieve over the course of his stellar career.
T11. Paul Casey, Rory Sabbatini, Jhonattan Vegas, Sebastian Munoz, Guido Migliozzi (-6): Another Rory, this one Sabbatini, who is playing under the Slovakia flag this week, even though he's originally from South Africa. He said he got his Slovakian citizenship (via marriage) "to try and generate interest among the junior golfers and to create future generations of Slovak golfers."
Sabbatini, who has been awesome on the back nine this week – playing that side in 5 under – has his hopes set pretty high for the weekend.
"The support has been fantastic and so hopefully I'll give them something to cheer about this weekend and inspire a few new golfers and maybe some desire to be future Olympians in the young girls and boys in Slovakia," he said.