Schauffele birdies final hole, captures first major at PGA Championship

Xander Schauffele of the United States celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 19, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky. AFP

Xander Schauffele outdueled Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland down the back nine on Sunday to win the PGA Championship, capturing his first major triumph and snapping a two-year victory drought.

Third-ranked Schauffele, the reigning Olympic champion, won a tension-packed drama over the closing holes, firing a six-under par 65 to finish 72 holes at Valhalla on 21-under 263, the lowest winning score in major golf history.

That was good enough for a one-stroke victory over fellow American DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion who fired a closing 64, with Norway’s Hovland, last year’s PGA runner-up, third on 266 after shooting a 66.

Victory was worth $3.33 million to Schauffele from an $18.5 million purse while DeChambeau took home $1.998 million.

The record low under-par winning score had been 20-under, done four times, most recently by Australian Cameron Smith at the 2022 British Open.

Schauffele, who had 12 prior top-10 major finishes without a victory, had not won an event since the 2022 Scottish Open, having had 19 top-10 finishes during his drought.

But the 30-year-old American matched the lowest round in major history with a nine-under 62 on Thursday and was equal to the challenge on Sunday.

“I was kind of emotional after the putt lipped in,” Schauffele said. “It has been a while since I won.

“I told myself this is my opportunity so let’s capture it.”

DeChambeau rolled in a birdie putt from just beyond 10 feet at the par-5 18th hole, the ball barely dropping in, to match Schauffele for the lead at 20-under.

Seconds later, Hovland missed his 10-foot birdie putt to doom his chances and ended up making a bogey.

Schauffele had a chance to win with a birdie at 18 but his tee shot was in the left rough on the edge of a fairway bunker. He calmly blasted his second shot just short of the green into the fairway, 36 yards from the hole.

Schauffele dropped his approach six feet from the hole and the ball made a slight roll on the edge as it fell in to give him a wire-to-wire triumph.

Not since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol had a player birdied the 72nd hole to win the Wanamaker Trophy.

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