Schauffele, Champ thriving amid low expectations


U.S. Open surprise packages Xander Schauffele and Cameron Champ each found a lack of expectation helpful as they continued to contend for glory on Friday.

PGA Tour rookie Schauffele and big-hitting amateur Champ ended round two on five under par and inside the top 10, having excelled when playing together at Erin Hills.

Schauffele, who followed his superb opening 66 with a 73, found himself in a share of the lead prior to a double-bogey at 13, while Champ was able to go round in 69 - improving his first-round score by a single stroke.

"I think me being a little naive has almost prepared me for this situation. Just coming in blue-eyed, really," the 23-year-old Schauffele told reporters.

"Yesterday [Thursday] was a bonus round for me. I qualified for this a couple Mondays ago. I have a limited schedule as a rookie on the PGA TOUR, so I have nothing to lose coming out here."

Champ, whose enormous distance off the tee has attracted plenty of attention, added: "I came in this week with no expectations really at all. I just... the only expectation I had was to be low am [amateur].

"It feels great. The course sets up very well for me off the tee. Obviously the conditions are a little more firm, but hitting fairways here is key. If you don't you can make bogey or double really quick.

"With my distance out here, to me it's just the biggest advantage that it can be. When you hit it long and straight out here, you can really score and stay out of trouble."

Practice rounds with Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy boosted the confidence of Champ at the beginning of the week.

"Just to see their games and how they play, I've grown up watching them. And I can hit those shots," he explained. "Obviously they've been in this position many more times than I have. They've won major championships. So it just kind of gave me a confidence boost, knowing that I can hit those shots."

Schauffele, meanwhile, said he still felt like something of an unknown despite his wonderful first-round performance.

"It's funny, I'll sign some autographs and kids will be like, dad, who is that? That's just how it is," said the youngster. "Hopefully Schauffele is a pretty weird name to remember.

"I feel good, obviously. If someone told me I'd be sitting five under, however many back in my first U.S. Open, I'd say I'd probably take it. So I feel good. I just think the biggest thing is going to be recovery starting right now up through Sunday. But fatigue will kick in at some point."