One week after disappointing in the final round and giving away a tournament victory, Xander Schauffele powered past a stacked leaderboard to win the 2024 PGA Championship in wire-to-wire fashion, breaking through to claim the first major championship of his career. The 30-year-old American tied a major record with a 9-under 62 to open play and never relented, leading after 18, 36, 54 and ultimately 72 holes by going a record-setting 21 under at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.

Schauffele’s 21 under was the lowest score to par in major championship history, while his 263 total score was the lowest 72-hole scoring total in such an event.

With his wire-to-wire victory, Schauffele becomes the 11th player to accomplish such a feat in PGA Championship history joining the likes of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Brooks Koepka who was last to do so in 2019.

Schauffele, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, has come excruciatingly close at majors throughout his career with six top-five and 12 total top-10 finishes across 27 prior starts. He has frequently been known to pull ahead early but struggle closing at the sport’s biggest events; that was a concern again Saturday as his leading margin shrunk with some of the best golfers in the world gaining significant ground during Moving Day.

Ultimately, Schauffele proved his naysayers wrong in convincing fashion Sunday. While 54-hole co-leader Collin Morikawa was unable to find a low number on the day until the last hole, Schauffele carded four birdies to go out in 31 and three more to come in at 34.

After taking a step back with a bogey on the 10th, Schauffele posted consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th to regain the lead with a birdie on the 72nd hole of the tournament ultimately separating him from Bryson DeChambeau to give Schauffele the championship.

“I was actually kind of emotional after the putt lipped in,” Schauffele said. “It’s been a while since I’ve won, and I really just kept saying it all week, I just need to stay in my lane. Man, was it hard to stay in my lane today. I tried all day to just keep focus on what I’m trying to do and keep every hole ahead of me. Had some weird kind of breaks coming into the [club]house, but it’s all good now.”

Schauffele’s greatest challenger Sunday was indeed DeChambeau, who posted a round-of-the-day 64 with four birdies on the back nine, including a brilliant putt on the closing 18th hole. The duo were tied at 20 under as Schauffele completed his final two holes with his own birdie on the 18th clinching the Wanamaker Trophy and $3.3 million winner’s share of the PGA Championship’s $18.5 million purse.

They say consistency precedes greatness, and there may be no better single phrase to describe Schauffele. After sleeping on the lead for three consecutive nights — and enduring the criticism of having not won in nearly two full years — Schauffele kept his head down and stayed straight in Louisville.

Having long been dubbed by his peers as being “the guy,” Schauffele finally showed why Sunday.

Taking punches from DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland for most of the day, Schauffele biggest wake-up call came on the par-5 10th when he inexplicably dropped a shot on one of the property’s easiest holes. It was the first time he had company atop the leaderboard Sunday (after Morikawa dropped off), and it set up one of the most memorable and clutch finishes in recent major championship history.

“I’ve had that feeling in the past where I’ve [failed to close], and I wasn’t able to convert the putt. And finally, I got a couple putts to lip in, hit some decent putts with better pace, the ones that were a little more straight uphill,” he said.

Schauffele’s birdie on the last is what historians will remember, but the moments leading up to it were just as crucial. Receiving not one but two straight bad breaks off the tee across his final two holes, Schauffele showed a depth of toughness he had not displayed previously.

He did well to save par on the 71st hole, creating the opportunity to win in regulation, yet it proved to be no easy task. Hitting his tee shot along the left side of the fairway on the par-5 finisher, Schauffele’s ball settled in the first cut and left him with an awkward stance with his feet in the stand. 

Bad bounces like that have affected him previously, but this weekend was clearly different. Instead of curling up, protecting himself and bracing for a punch, Schauffele countered. He laced a long iron up near the green, pitched his third just inside 7 feet … and the rest is history. 

“I stayed very patient,” Schauffele said. “I was looking up at the [leader]board. There’s been times where I tried to look away from it until the back nine, but today, I was looking at it. I just wanted to be aware of everything. I wanted to know exactly where I stood. I wanted to know — address my feelings when they were happening … and I just kept fighting.”

This is what won Schauffele the Wanamaker Trophy. He already flashed all the tangibles. He’s a statistical darling. He’s sneaky-long off the tee. He is perhaps the most well-rounded player in the professional sport. Still, something was clearly amiss. 

Schauffele found the missing link: toughness. That “you’re going to have to pull this trophy out of my dying grasp” mindset. And now, Schauffele finds himself in a club where he rightfully belongs — among fellow major champions.



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