He's History: Schauffele Opens with 62 to Set PGA Championship Scoring Record

Xander Schauffele, ranked No. 3 in the world, made nine birdies and no bogeys during a stellar opening round at Valhalla Golf Club.
Schauffele rang up nine birdies in his opening round at Valhalla.
Schauffele rang up nine birdies in his opening round at Valhalla. / Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

 LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Xander Schauffele found a fine way to shake off the disappointment of a close call by making some major championship history.

A runner-up to Rory McIlroy last Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, Schauffele shook off any issues for the final round to match the lowest record ever shot in any major, a 62.

Schauffele’s score included nine birdies and no bogeys over the 7,506-yard Valhalla Golf Club course and gave him a three-shot advantage over Tony Finau, Sahith Theegala and Mark Hubbard. McIlroy was in a group tied for fifth after a 66.

“It's a great start to a big tournament,’’ said Schauffele, who is ranked third in the Official World Golf Ranking behind Scottie Scheffler and McIlroy. "One I'm obviously always going to take. It's
just Thursday.”

Schauffele, who set the PGA Championship scoring record with the 62, knows better than anyone that one good round does not make a tournament. He opened last week’s Wells Fargo Championship with a 64 and held a one-stroke lead over McIlroy heading into the final round but could not hang on for a victory.

He has failed to win anywhere since the second of consecutive victories in July of 2022 at the Genesis Scottish Open.

“I think not winning makes you want to win more, as weird as that is,” Schauffele said. “For me, at least, I react to it, and I want it more and more and more, and it makes me want to work harder and harder and harder.

“The top feels far away, and I feel like I have a lot of work to do. But just slowly chipping away at it.”

His 62 matched a major championship record first set by Branden Grace during the third round of the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale. Both Rickie Fowler and Schauffele matched it during the opening round of the U.S. Open last year at Los Angeles Country Club.

Schauffele was not ready to pick one over the other. “I’ll take a 62 anytime,” he said.

Schauffele said he’s tried to keep things in perspective. Coming into the PGA, he’s had eight top-10 finishes this year and played in the final group four times.

“Yeah, you take it for granted. I'm playing really good golf,” he said. “At the end of the day, when I go to sleep, I remind myself that I'm playing at a really high level. I've put myself in position. Seven years ago I won twice quickly, I had high expectations, then I didn't win for a year or two, then I won two or three times in a year. It's just kind of how it goes sometimes.

“You look at some of these events now, too, the way they're formed, you have all the best players in the world playing, so it's harder to win these tournaments when they're not diluted at all. You have all the top 50, top 100 players playing trying to win and treating it almost every week like it's a major.”

A week ago, Schauffele shot 64 to open at Quail Hollow by could manage just a final-round 71 as McIlroy blew past him on the final nine.

“Last week was a bit of a buzzsaw,’’ Schauffele said. “I felt like if someone would have told me I'd shoot 4-under at Quail Hollow on Sunday and lose—it's just a testament to how good Rory played. When someone like him is firing on all cylinders, he's a tough man to beat, and he proved that on Sunday.”

Teeing off early Thursday morning, Schauffele hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. He made a good par save from a bunker at the first hole, his 10th,  then birdied four of the next six holes to get to 9 under par for his round before parring the last two holes. He needed just 24 putts.

“In terms of wanting to go practice right now, there's always shots you can kind of pick apart or chips that you can pick apart that you felt like you could have hit better, but I'm very content with how I played.”


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a golf writer for SI.com and the author of the book "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods," which publishes in March and can be ordered here.