American Xander Schauffele removed himself from any conversations or debates as to who might be the best player without a major title on their resume with a record-breaking victory during an eventful week at the US PGA Championship. 

While Schauffele wrote the final chapter in shooting a major championship record low total of 21-under, one shot ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, the brilliant golf on the course and events taking place away from it, made for a memorable week at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Kicking off the week the headlines were dominated by personal issues affecting Rory McIlroy, news surfacing relating to a well publicised divorce, while LIV supporters got their wish with 14 players invited, Louis Oosthuizen stayed home, leaving 13 to compete, despite no imminent end to the current PGA TOUR-LIV standoff. 

On a course softened by rain. the golf took over on Thursday, with Schauffele opening with a 62, equaling the lowest score in major championship history. Three players, Tony Finau, Mark Hubbard and Sahith Theegala managed 65’s, while Scottie Scheffler was in the hunt following a day one 67. 

On Friday it wasn’t Scheffler’s golf that was the talking point, rather it was his arrest by Kentucky police while in transit to the course. Amazingly, Scheffler conducted his pre-round stretching in a jail cell, before being released in time to shoot a second round 66. 

Xander Schauffele claimed his first major championship with at victory at Valhalla.

Scheffler was out of contention after a 73 on Saturday, with his final round 65 moving him back into the top 10 and into a tie for eighth. 

All the while Schauffele remained out in front. Shane Lowry, in matching Schauffele’s first day 62 in the third round, was amongst those to mount a charge, before he entered the last day tied for the lead with Collin Morikawa. 

Sunday’s finale came down to an enthralling three-way tussle, with DeChambeau and Norwegian Viktor Hovland challenging, but in the end it was the Schauffele, who emphatically bucked the proverbial money off his back in claiming a first major championship title. 

Already an Olympic gold medalist, with Schauffele the winner in Tokyo, the 30-year old Californian had 12 top-fives and two second placings at majors previously, while the 2022 Scottish Open was his most recent triumph. He had finished second to McIlroy just a week prior at the Wells Fargo Championship after leading into the final round. 

“I was actually kind of emotional after the putt lipped in,” Schauffele said of his clinching two-metre birdie putt on the 72nd hole. “I really didn’t want to go into a playoff against Bryson. 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.

“It’s been a while since I’ve won. I kept saying it all week, I just need to stay in my lane. And man, was it hard to stay in my lane today.”

It is, and was good for Schauffele, US$3,330,000 richer and now a major champion. 

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