Schauffele makes major history with record start at PGA Championship

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Schauffele makes major history with record start at PGA Championship

Xander Schauffele ripped up the major record books to grab the early lead during a historic opening round at the PGA Championship.

Schauffele carded nine birdies during a stunning bogey-free opening round at Valhalla Golf Club, seeing him record the first ’62 round’ in the PGA Championship and just the fourth ever in a men’s major.

Branden Grace was the first player to shoot 62 in a men’s major in the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale, with Schauffele now matching the feat that he and Rickie Fowler managed during the opening round of last year’s US Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

Image: Schauffele’s opening-round 62 is his second in as many years in majors

Schauffele is the first player to card multiple rounds of 62 in major history, with an opening round of nine under also equalling the lowest score – relative to par – ever in a men’s major.

How Schauffele made major history

Beginning on the back nine alongside two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and Ryder Cup star Ludvig Åberg, Schauffele failed to take advantage of the par-five 10th but made a close-range birdie at the par-three next after a brilliant tee shot to inside three feet.

Xander Schauffele watches his tee shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Image: Schauffele is looking for a maiden major title

Schauffele holed from 15 feet to save par at the 12th and converted from a similar distance to birdie the par-four next, then got up and down to scramble a par at the 14th before starting his charge by birdieing both his next two holes.

He added another at the par-five 18th to close an impressive first-nine 31, with Schauffele producing another sand save at the first and then firing his approach at the second to inside five feet and making his sixth birdie of the day.

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A look at Schauffele’s amazing start to the PGA Championship, where he reached the turn in 31 after five birdies in nine holes

Schauffele chipped to tap-in range at the fourth and rolled in from 10 feet at the fifth to go eight under for his round and put multiple major records under threat, with the Olympic gold medallist making a two-putt birdie at the par-five seventh to pull ahead.

A brilliant up and down from the back of the eighth green kept Schauffele bogey-free and needing a birdie at the par-four ninth – his final hole – to card the first 61 in a men’s major, but he knocked his approach to 30 feet and two-putted for a par to complete a record-breaking performance.

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Schauffele not getting carried away by fast start

Schauffele’s strong start follows a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday, but he is refusing to think about a potential maiden major title and first worldwide win since the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open.

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Schauffele played down his 62, saying there are still three rounds to play

“Its a great start to a big tournament,” Schauffele said. “One I’m obviously always going to take, but it’s just Thursday. That’s about it.”

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When asked about whether he is in the form of his career, Schauffele added: “I feel there’s spurts, moments in time where you feel like you can control the ball really well; you’re seeing the greens really well; you’re chipping really well. But over a prolonged period, it’s tough to upkeep high performance. I’d say it’s very close to it, if not it.

“I think not winning makes you want to win more, as weird as that is. For me, at least, I react to it and I want it more and more and more, which makes me want to work harder and harder and harder. The top feels far away, and I feel like I have a lot of work to do. But just slowly chipping away at it.”

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Thomas: Schauffele a complete player

Schauffele has eight top 10s from 11 starts on the PGA Tour this season, with Thomas – who carded a two-under 69 – admitting his playing partner’s record-breaking start should come as no surprise.

“I’d say it’s the same stuff that we’ve all been watching on TV this year or in person,” Thomas said. “Xander, he’s such a complete player. This year he’s hitting it even further. As good as he drove it, now he’s doing the same, just 15 yards further and faster.

Image: Schauffele was playing alongside Justin Thomas and Ludvig Åberg during the opening round

“He’s smart. I’ve always thought he has one of the best demeanours out here, which is obviously something that you can’t necessarily just change overnight. He just has no quit in him, and he’s always hanging in there and staying patient.

“He’s playing really, really great golf right now. So you feel like he’s one of those guys every time he tees it up right now, he’s going to be in contention.”

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