Defending champion Schauffele leads the US PGA Champions Tournament UU.

Los Angeles, January 4 (AFP) Defending champion Xander Schauffele defied high winds and sometimes rain on Friday, firing a par 68 of five under par to take a lead halfway to a stroke in the Champions Tournament of the PGA Tour of the USA UU.

In a wild climate on the par-73 plantation camp in Kapalua, Hawaii, Schauffele managed to shake off his early impatience and bit five birdies without a bogey on the way to a total of 137 under par.

It was a blow away from fellow American Patrick Reed and overnight leader Joaquín Niemann from Chile.

Reed grabbed eight birdies in a par 66 under seven and joined 138 under eight by Niemann, who loaded a 72 under one.

The American Rickie Fowler was only in fourth place after a 71 for 139, a blow in front of Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas, who closed with consecutive bogeys.

It was an interesting day, Schauffele said.

The game stopped twice, with the remaining players in the field, when heavy rains left stagnant water in the field.

I really wasn't thinking about my score just because I was trying to keep myself as dry and warm as possible, Schauffele said.

I felt a little frustrated at the beginning of the round, I was missing some putts here and there. It was windy, the ball moved in the greens.

My attitude was a little doubtful, I would say, sometimes. Once the monsoon passed, it was a pleasant time to relax and let it pass.

After the birdies in the first two pairs, the fifth and ninth, Schauffele rolled on a 12-foot foot in 13 and buried another 12-foot to take a part of the lead at 16.

He drained a seven-foot foot in the 18th par five to take exclusive possession of Reed's leadership, whose 66 matched Niemann's first-round effort as the low round of the tournament.

Reed had started his round with a 41-foot birdie putt in the room and followed with a two-foot birdie in the next before shooting three birdies in a row in the eighth, ninth and tenth.

- 'clearer plan' -

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Another parenthesis of little birds at 13 and 14 years old was followed by his lonely bogey of the day at 15, but withdrew a shot with a little bird at 17.

Reed said a triple bogey on the seventh hole on Thursday had galvanized him.

When I left today, I had a clearer plan of what I had to do to fix my golf swing for today. The next thing you know is that I started hitting the ball better and started putting putts.

Reed was at the center of a controversy over the rules in the Hero World Challenge organized by Tiger Woods in the Bahamas in December, where he was penalized after performing practice swings that moved some sand in a bunker.

Although partisan fans in the Presidents Cup in Australia interrupted him mercilessly over the matter, Reed delivered a win on Sunday in singles to help the United States win

International team in the play match showdown at Royal Melbourne.

After some time to reflect, Reed said he had good memories of the Down Under trip. (I) I just enjoy going to battle, he said. The fans were hostile, what you would expect, but I would never have missed it. (AFP) APA APA

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