Xander Schauffele Sets Record with Lowest Ever PGA Championship Score


In the picturesque heart of Louisville, Kentucky, Xander Schauffele – undeterred by a two-year winning drought – strided onto the emerald expanse of Valhalla Golf Club with the ethos of determination. His game, as good it ever was; his swing, unchanged. The gears of his performance were well-oiled, and he had every intention to “keep chugging along”.

Yet, this time it looked more like a sprint, right into the annals of the PGA Championship. On a seemingly placid Thursday, Schauffele seized the opportunity presented by the calm, gentle conditions that barely hinted at the tempest of a major championship round. With a resounding 9-under 62, Schauffele inked his name into PGA Championship history, achieving the lowest score ever recorded in the tournament’s rich history. By the end of the opening round, he cleverly navigated Valhalla’s challenges and cemented a three-shot lead, matching yet another PGA landmark.

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As the sun slowly set, sixty-four players found their scores under par; an unprecedented occurrence for a first round at the PGA Championship. The sprawling course, boasting spongy turf and generous greens, witnessed phenomenal performances from its ensemble of 156 players, yielding 542 birdies and magnificent seven eagles. All around the vast course, the air pulsated with jubilation, echoing with cheers.

But for Schauffele, the 30-year-old golfer who’s as cool as a Californian breeze, the acclaim didn’t ruffle his feathers. His previous performance of 62 at the U.S. Open last year in Los Angeles was a lingering memory – an achievement matched by Rickie Fowler – but it ultimately led to a tied 10th place finish. This time, he strode ahead with a three-shot lead over Tony Finau, Sahith Theegala, and Mark Hubbard, each having peppered their scores with a flurry of birdies.

Scottie Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion, found himself with the daunting task of catching up with Schauffele immediately after becoming a father last week. Nevertheless, he marshaled a strong round of 67 that was punctuated by an eagle – a striking 9-iron stroke from 167 yards out.

However, the relatively placid nature of Valhalla had its perks; it offered respite to those who stumbled early on. Jon Rahm, who began his day with four bogeys in six holes, subsequently managed a respectable 70, as did Collin Morikawa who fell 2 over through five holes but then rallied with three consecutive birdies and wrapped up the day with a 65.

Schauffele’s one-putt strides, 12 of them in total, marked his special round. The record was seized by his steady hand when he successfully maintained his score with a birdie on every hole until the end.

With the captivating performance, Schauffele had the audience captivated. Among them, Louisville native Justin Thomas, who ended the day with a respectable 69, and Rory Mcilroy, who returned to the course after a decade-long absence to stride off with a 66.

The day turned out less enchanting for Tiger Woods, who despite a promising start, ended with a disappointing round of 72, marking his eighth consecutive round failing to break par in a major championship tournament.

Upon close, Schauffele mentally geared up for the next round. “The greens will be a little bit bumpier with a lot of foot traffic coming through. Who knows with the weather — it might rain — so the course might be playing completely different,” Schauffele mused. However, full in the knowledge of his own proficiency, he went to bed with calm assurance and an intention to resume the game afresh the following day.

All in all, the day’s play served up a tantalizing menu of high-quality golf, with Finau’s spirited view that the week ahead was set to be filled with exhilarating shots, fruitful birdie opportunities, and most importantly, plenty of fun. Indeed, the perfect recipe for an enthralling PGA Championship was unfolding.