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'Lucky break' propels Schauffele to closing eagle, 66

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Even Xander Schauffele’s mis-hits turned out OK Thursday at the U.S. Open.

Schauffele was cruising along at 3 under par when he toed his tee shot on the par-5 finishing hole. His ball appeared destined for the water, but his ball kicked off a rock and skittered down the fairway, leaving just 168 yards to the flag. He hit an 8-iron to 12 feet and poured in the eagle putt to post 66, tied for the early lead with Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen.

“Very fortunate and happy we capitalized on a really lucky break,” he said.

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This is just Schauffele’s 10th career major start, but he continues to impress in the game’s biggest events. The 25-year-old has missed just one cut with four top-6 finishes, including a tie for second earlier this year at the Masters. He tied for 16th last month at the PGA Championship.

“The mentality changes, a little more focused coming into the week, extra preparation,” Schauffele said. “You just kind of dive a little bit deeper into the preparation, and I feel like the team and I have done a decent job of doing that.”