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Scheffler stays calm, cool in surging to Sentry lead

Jan. 6—Any golfer will tell you : Maintaining a cool head and staying off of tilt is the most important key to success.

KAPALUA, Maui—Keep calm and play good golf.

It should be on a T-shirt. It probably was, back when "Keep calm and (whatever )" was a thing.

Any golfer will tell you : Maintaining a cool head and staying off of tilt is the most important key to success.

Ask Scottie Scheffler. He said it was a big part of the 9-under-par 64 he shot Friday that has him atop the leaderboard at The Sentry headed into today's third round at the Kapalua Plantation Course.

When the 2022 Masters champion and'23 PGA Player of the Year bogeyed hole No. 2, he didn't panic. He just took a deep breath and birdied No. 3—the first of eight on the day, plus an eagle at No. 5.

"Kept a good head on my shoulders, " he said. "I played really solid. The few times I got into trouble I got out pretty quick and hit some nice pitches and a couple nice putts as well."

Nice and calm.

Just like the wind ... or rather, the nearly complete lack of it here for the first two rounds. When there's no breeze, that's exactly what this layout is—a breeze for players the caliber of Scheffler and the other 58 here who all won PGA Tour events or finished in the top 50 of the FedEx Cup points list last year.

"Probably a lot more of what I did today and yesterday, " said Scheffler, when asked what it would take to win this weekend. "Scores around this place are pretty low, but it's one of those places if you go out there and play well you're going to get rewarded. If you start not hitting it in the right spots, you can get in trouble. Just got to keep the pedal down out here."

Eight players start today within two shots of his pace, with Tyrrell Hatton, Brendon Todd and Sungjae Im just one stroke back at 15 under.

To put that in perspective, think of it this way : If the winds don't kick up this weekend (and the latest forecasts say they won't ), there are nearly 10 players with a very plausible chance of getting to 30 under. The law of averages dictates it is very unlikely all of them will, but the point is they all have the ability to and it wouldn't be a surprise—if the wind stays calm.

Those a shot or even two further back could even do it.

The craziest thing is that all 59 players in the field are under par for the tournament midway through it.

In 2022, Cameron Smith won here by shooting 34 under—it's the lowest score in relation to par for a 72-hole tournament in PGA history. And he needed every bit of it ; Jon Rahm, last year's champion, was second at 33 under.

Some guys this week are crushing the course but saying they aren't playing well. Collin Morikawa said he didn't feel quite right Friday, but he still shot 6 under for the day, and is among the four players two shots back.

When Hatton started his second round, aches and pains were telling him 11 over, not 11 under.

"If I'm being honest, my body didn't feel great, and tee to green wasn't, didn't feel amazing, " he said.

He said he was still feeling the effects of a 251 /2 hour odyssey to get here from his home in England. He arrived on Maui at around 11 :30 p.m. Saturday.

"Just very stiff, " Hatton said. "I wouldn't say I looked after myself in the December period, maybe that played a part. Yeah, so my body hasn't been moving well. I'm sure if you had seen some flight tracers of some of my tee shots you would be disgusted."

Regardless, Hatton was at 7 under for the day after 13 holes, thanks, he said, to his putter. He bogeyed No. 14, which he said irritated him, because, it's "one of the easiest holes out here."

But on this day all the other holes were easy for Hatton, at least on paper. And he didn't hobble in, he charged in, playing his last four in 5 under—birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle. And we're talking 90-foot putt eagle on 18.

"That's just a bonus, " he said. "Just hoping to roll it up somewhere close and, yeah, thankfully, the flag got in the way and the ball fell in the hole."

Other than his work on the greens (23 putts for the entire round ), Hatton couldn't explain it.

"Well, I guess it shows how much of a stupid game it is, " he said. "With how bad my body felt, I'm surprised that, going out this morning, that score was just not even entering my mind. It's more probably like over, over par."

Hatton, 32, doesn't know how much more good fortune his body can take. The way he says it, it sounds like getting to the tournaments is harder than negotiating the courses.

"Pray for my body these next six weeks because I'm playing Sony next week, and flying straight from there to Dubai, and Dubai for six days, and flying back to Orlando for five days, before flying back to West Coast, " he said. " I mean, I'm a plank of wood as it is, by the end of that trip it's going to be brutal."

For at least today, though, he's in the hunt. He just needs to keep calm and keep making putts.