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May 16, 2024 2:48 pm

PGA Championship: Schauffele starts strong, Scheffler eagles opening hole

Schauffele

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For the second consecutive year, Xander Schauffele shot a 62 in a major championship.

Schauffele had the latest record-setting round on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club, firing a 9-under 62 to break the PGA Championship record and to set a new competitive round record at Valhalla.

On a rain-softened course, Schauffele started on the back nine and made five birdies en route to a 31 before making four more birdies on the front nine for another 31. The mark ties the major championship record for a low round, a list that he was already part of after his 62 at Los Angeles Country Club last year in the U.S. Open.

“Yeah, It’s a great start to a big tournament,” Schauffele said. “One I am obviously going to take. But it’s just Thursday.”

It took only two swings for Masters champion and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler to make noise at the start of the afternoon wave. Scheffler lofted a 9-iron from 102 yards into the cup on one hop to eagle the par-4 and announce his presence with a bang.

Scheffler leads all players in major tournaments since 2000 at a combined score to par of 73-under before the PGA Championship began Thursday. Only a second-place finish in Houston interfered with a string of four wins in five tournaments entering this week.

The 30-year-old Schauffele, who was two shots up last weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship but ended up losing that event to Rory McIlroy by five strokes, broke the old course mark of 63 set in the 2000 PGA by Jose Maria Olazabal.

Schauffele is the only player to have a 62 in a major twice. Branden Grace did it first in the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale and then Rickie Fowler did is just moments before Schauffele last year at the Open.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Schauffele came into the PGA Championship with the lowest all-time career first-round scoring average in major championship history for those who have appeared in at least 25 majors. He averaged 69.81.

And he bettered that mark by a lot.

Schauffele birdied three of the last four holes on the front nine, including a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th hole.

“It wasn’t like a dream start,” he said. “Being 1-under through 3 probably would have been a good start for me anyways, and when you shoot something low, you kind of get lost in the process of what you’re doing versus thinking about how low you’re trying to shoot.”

Schauffele was 6-under when he reeled off three birdies in a four hole stretch on the front nine, including a long two-putt at the par-5 seventh hole. He saved par at the par-3 eighth hole with a chip from the back of the green and two-putted for par at No. 9.

“I felt like out here, you’re just eyeing the fairway most times,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter if you fly a ball 325 yards. If it’s in the rough, it doesn’t do you any good. You’d rather be 300 yards in the middle of the fairway. But I think overall, just knowing that I can kind of get the ball out there pretty far without having to go at it all the time is a pretty good feeling.”

In the morning wave of players with scoring conditions perfect, Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala both shot 6-under 65, while Rory McIlroy and Robert Macintyre but had 66s.

Ben Kohles shot 67 in his PGA debut. The last player to shoot 4-under or better in the first round of their PGA debut was Scheffler in 2020. He went on to finish tied for fourth.

–Jody Demling, Field Level Media

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