golf

Schauffele finds record-setting PGA victory at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele goes wire-to-wire winning his first major title with a landmark score at the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Last Thursday Xander Schauffele was featured with the 100 best PGA and LIV golfers during the second major of the year at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

The course has hosted three previous PGA Championships (1996, 2000, and 2014), the second of which being Tiger’s memorable three-hole playoff against underdog Bob May.

This year, Schauffele went 21 under to take home the Wanamaker Trophy. This was the lowest score in major championship history, and included a 9 under 62 in the opening round.

Shane Lowry (T6) was also able to shoot a 62 during the third round, along with many other players who attacked the favorable conditions.

The wet course allowed for players to be much more aggressive toward pin placements, knowing that the ball would roll out less. With wet conditions also came the dreaded mud-ball. The ruling to play the ball “down”, was enforced instead of allowing lift, clean, and place.

In 2016 the lift, clean, and place policy was enforced at the PGA Championship in Baltusrol, however it is not normally enforced during major championships. It eliminates the random aspect of golf, where mud causes an extreme increase in spin which leads to hard hooks or slices.

Of the players affected by the mud-ball were Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka (T26) who each had an errant shot due to the conditions.

We’re pro golfers, we’re not professional mud readers… I look up and my ball’s just duck-hooking across the property.

Xander Schauffele

Despite this challenge, Schauffele was able to maintain a lead throughout the whole tournament with numerous different golfers challenging him over the four days. 

He started with 28 straight holes of golf without a bogey. It was only the tough 15th hole that gave him trouble throughout the week.

The 435 yard par 4 averaged a 4.11 score over the course of the week. Although playing close to par, it held the most doubles or worse on the course.

Schauffelle was one of the players that marked a double on the scorecard after getting caught in the thick rough behind the green.

Going into Sunday, the final pairing was a battle of Southern California: the San Diego native Schauffele was -15 tied with Los Angeles native Collin Morikawa (T4).

Morikawa couldn’t get any putts to fall, and finished his final round even par.

Schauffele, who has had problems in the past with final rounds, came out hot with a four under front nine. He bogeyed the par 5 10th, before cruising his way to the 18th green.

On his heels the whole final round was Bryson DeChambeau. The day before he had a chip-in eagle on 18 which caused a major swing in momentum.

DeChambeau posted a final round 64 and was tied at -20 with Schauffele.

With one hole to play, Schauffele was able to knock down a 6-foot birdie chance that wrapped around the cup, securing himself his first of what could be many major championships.

His main key to success was his consistent birdie chances. With a tournament leading 83.3% green in regulation, Schauffele gave himself a solid chance to go low every single round. 

The newly crowned major winner was able to putt well, averaging about 1.633 putts a hole, but also continuing his role as the player with the lowest number of three putts on tour, with only 8 in almost 800 holes of golf played.

With the US Open coming up at Pinehurst in June, Schauffele will most definitely look to push to the top of the leaderboard and prove to be someone who can fight for another major trophy.

Reigning US Open champion Wyndham Clark will also look to fight back to retain his title and get back to his normal style of golf. Although he is playing very well this year, Clark had a disappointing week missing the cut entirely after a +4 second round.

Meanwhile, others such as Scottie Scheffler (T8) will look to get back to his normal golfing skills. After an unusual weekend full of distractions, Scheffler broke his streak of under par rounds after his +2 round on Saturday.

A two time Masters winner, Scheffler will look to win his first ever US Open and pad his massive FedEx Cup lead.

Schauffele, however, will look to win back to back majors and prove that he is one of the top golfers in the world.