Primed home boy Xander 'Spiderman' Schauffele makes a strong start at the US Open

The San Diego native carded a first round 2-under-par 69 to sit tied fifth at the end of the first day’s play.

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Xander Schauffele to win 10/1

Xander Schauffele is a golfer who tends to let his results do the talking.

And the message they relate is loud and clear.

He won the 2017 TOUR Championship as a rookie, finished tied second on debut at THE PLAYERS, won a World Golf Championship event in 2018, the Tournament of Champions in 2019, and has recorded eight Major Championship top 10 finishes in just 16 starts.

We get it: Xander likes - he really, really, really likes - elite-level competition.

Most weeks, even in the sport's biggest events, when everyone now fully appreciates that he's a strong chance of contending, he can fly under the radar.

Because, as good as he is at the business of getting the ball in the hole on very difficult tracks, he does it with the minimum of commotion so the media flaps around the fuss-pots instead.

Not this week, however.

Not when he was born in host city San Diego, grew up playing at Torrey Pines, and when, as a teenager, he leaned against a tree watching Tiger Woods hole his famous playoff-clinching putt at 18 in 2008.

It has seemed all week, and that impression appeared to be confirmed when he posted a first round 2-under-par 69 that left him tied fifth at the end of an incomplete first round, that he has taken the extra scrutiny in his stride.

Perhaps that's because whether he gets lots of, or little, attention doesn't effect his own sense assessment of what's going on.

"I have high expectations for myself in big tournaments so it's always nice to start off hot," he said after swapping four birdies and two bogeys.

His excellence in the Majors is actually lifted a notch in the US Open; he's played in the championship four times and is yet to finish anywhere other than the top six.

The reason? He appreciates the distinction between being aggressive and messing up.

"It's a fine line," he said. "I felt ready to go on Monday. I played 64 holes last week and I felt prepared. I saw both my coaches and everything was good. I think I told them on Tuesday, 'I'm ready to go.' Like, we don't need to do anything else.

"It was about staying patient, knowing that I'm playing good golf and just doing it."

Schauffele begins Friday two back of the leaders Russell Henley, who is in the clubhouse, and Louis Oosthuizen, who has two holes to complete early on Friday after fog delayed the start of the first round.

He shares fifth with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm, among others, with Rory McIlroy just one back in a tie for 11th.

Let's take a closer look at what else Schauffele had to say and also delve deeper into his excellent US Open record.

Schauffele tee to green

"I was strong off the tee," he said. "It's something I look forward to maintaining all week. Being in the fairway obviously gives you a distance advantage because the ball is running more, and firmness of greens protects the pins and the rough is long.

"We're used to January when it's really slow, soft, wet and the ball isn't going anywhere. Now it's kind of weird. It's firm, fast, ball is going a mile if you hit the fairway.

"You've just got to pick slightly different lines off the tee and different landing angles or different landing approach numbers coming into greens."

Schauffele currently ranks sixth for Strokes Gained Off the Tee in round one.

Schauffele on the greens

Earlier in the week the 27-year-old discussed how he is using an armlock putter because he believes the launch angle helps negotiate the bumpy poa annua grass on the greens.

On Thursday, he also unveiled a new habit of going low to view his next putt.

"I think I'm a real green reader," he said. "And sometimes when I get even lower I may pick up something that I missed just hunched down.

"I just started doing it on a few putts and I kind of liked it. Now I'm stuck doing 50 push-ups every day, so it's great. Just like the armlock, I'm trying to find any way to get myself an advantage."

He actually ranks 91st in the field for SG Putting, but 22nd for SG Around the Greens so his par-saving performance was solid.

"I felt like I didn't really hit a bad putt," he said. "I lipped out a few, I made a few. Overall, really comfortable."

Schauffele in the US Open

His record doesn't really need much elaborating from the sensational simplicity of four starts, four top six finishes.

But let's do it anyway.

This was his 17th lap in the championship and it will be the 16th time he has ended a round T16th or better.

Add in his tied second at Torrey Pines earlier this season, plus his clear sense of readiness, and it's easy to see him as remaining a contender this week.

There is a rider, however.

This was the fourth time in five first rounds that he has gone sub 70. He's also 3-for-4 at shooting in the 60s in the fourth round, but he's never done so in rounds two or three.

His Saturday effort have not been ruinous (70-72-71-70), but second round performance is just about the weakness in Schauffele's US Open armoury, needing 73, 74, 73 and 72 blows in the past.

READ MORE: The Riddle of Torrey Pines: What the players are saying ahead of the 2021 US Open

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