Xander Schauffele achieves career-first; soars into Masters contention

Xander Schauffele accomplished a career-first on Saturday at Augusta National.

He did not record a single bogey and instead made two birdies at the 3rd and 13th holes, ultimately shooting a 2-under 70. It’s his first bogey-free round in his Masters career.

“To go bogey-free today was pretty special,” Schauffele said afterward.

“I think I just really plodded along. Didn’t leave it in the best spots at times, but with how windy it still is and how firm the greens are, even the ‘okay’ spots were you are chipping uphill to the holes still aren’t that good.”

Schauffele certainly left himself in a precarious position on the 18th hole, where he launched his tee shot well right and into the woods.

But he somehow found a gap between the Georgia pines, punching his second shot all the way up and onto the green. He proceeded to make par, keeping his bogey-free round intact.

“I told [my caddy] Austin after I hit it, that could be the best shot I ever hit in my life,” Schauffele said of his second on 18.

“That’s why I was really happy to make that par putt to pay off that iron shot. I had to aim at a tree and then try and cut it, and if I hit the tree, it’s going to come straight back to me and back into the forest. For it to sort of clip the pine needles and spin up to the right, land on the green, and go over, I was so happy to make a four.”

His miracle shot on 18 keeps Schauffele in contention. It also keeps his chances of winning a major alive. Schauffele has come close many times before, but he will have to go low on Sunday to have a shot at glory.

“You just want a chance coming down that back nine,” Schauffele added.

Xander Schauffele, The Masters

Xander Schauffele and his caddie Austin Kaiser during the third round of the 2024 Masters.
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

“Hopefully, I’ll have mine tomorrow. I’m going to be ahead of the leading groups, but not too far, I hope. Yeah, that’s all I can shoot for.”

Yet, Augusta National has played tough this week thanks to the gale-force winds. That, coupled with temperatures in the 80s, have created firm and fast conditions, making this one of the toughest Masters in years.

Sunday’s weather calls for more of the same, so birdies will certainly be at a premium while pars will always feel good.

“I know how hard it’s playing, and if you start to get aggressive around the property you can pick up some shots going the wrong direction,” Schauffele said.

“My goal was to get to 4-under [on Saturday]. I thought that was doable. I definitely had enough today to do it. I just kind of have to go out and shoot something ridiculous [on Sunday].”

Despite falling short of his goal, Schauffele certainly soared up the leaderboard on moving day. He will have a chance entering the final round, and for anyone playing at Augusta, that is all you can ask for.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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