Schauffele Triumphs in Thrilling Finish to Claim First Major Victory

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The title of “best golfer in the world without a major championship” can no longer be attached to Xander Schauffele’s name. The 30-year-old San Diego native secured his first major victory at the PGA Championship on Sunday, overcoming LIV Golf League captain Bryson DeChambeau and Norway’s Viktor Hovland in a thrilling final round at Valhalla Golf Club.

Starting the day tied with two-time major winner Collin Morikawa, Schauffele delivered an impressive performance to silence his critics. He posted a 6-under 65 in the final round, finishing with a 72-hole total of 21 under par, edging out DeChambeau by one shot and Hovland by three. His victory included the lowest 72-hole score to par and the lowest 72-hole total (263) in a major championship.

Schauffele’s triumph marked the ninth consecutive PGA Championship won by an American. His emotion was palpable as his final putt lipped into the hole. “I was actually kind of emotional after the putt lipped in,” Schauffele said, reflecting on his journey since his last victory at the Scottish Open in July 2022. “It’s been a while since I’ve won. I kept saying it all week, I just need to stay in my lane. Man, was it hard to stay in my lane today, but 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 house, but it’s all good now.”

DeChambeau pushed Schauffele to the limit, tying him at 20 under with a birdie on the 72nd hole. However, Schauffele matched DeChambeau’s effort with his own birdie on the final hole, becoming the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 to win the PGA Championship by one shot with a birdie on the last hole.

On the par-5 18th, Schauffele’s tee shot narrowly avoided a fairway bunker, leaving him in a challenging position. With both feet in the sand and his ball 239 yards from the hole, he executed a perfect long iron shot, leaving the ball about 35 yards short of the green. A deft chip left him with a six-foot putt, which he calmly sank to secure his victory.

“I really didn’t want to go into a playoff against Bryson,” Schauffele admitted. “I’m assuming we probably would have played 18. It would have been a lot of work. I just told myself, this is my opportunity and just capture it.”

Valhalla Golf Club, renowned for its dramatic finishes and low scores, delivered another memorable event. Schauffele maintained his composure despite the mounting pressure, especially after DeChambeau’s 11-foot birdie putt on the 18th tied the scores at 20 under.

“Proud of Xander for finally getting the job done,” DeChambeau said. “I mean, he’s an amazing golfer and a well-deserved major champion now. He has played well for a long, long time. Played against him as a junior. Not only is he just a great human being but an unbelievable golfer, and it shows this week. Super happy for him.”

Schauffele’s journey to his first major title has been marked by numerous close calls and near misses. He had consistently been a top contender in major championships, with 12 top-10 finishes and six top-5s in his first 27 major starts. Despite these impressive performances, victory had eluded him until now.

Reflecting on his career, Schauffele dismissed the notion of being the best golfer without a major win as mere “noise.” He said, “That’s what I think. I thought I was. Not that people saying it made me think that. I just felt like I’ve done enough work, I’m good enough to do it. I just needed to shut my mind up and actually do it.”

Schauffele’s previous near-misses included a tie for fifth in his first major at the 2017 U.S. Open and heartbreaking finishes in the 2018 Open Championship and the 2019 Masters. Despite these setbacks, he persevered, gaining valuable experience and resilience.

On Sunday, all those past disappointments seemed like distant memories as Schauffele finally lifted the Wanamaker Trophy, cementing his place among golf’s elite. His victory not only silences his critics but also marks the beginning of what promises to be a stellar major championship career.

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