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PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele sets a record… again

LOUISVILLE — Tiger Woods walked into the interview tent beyond the 18th green at Valhalla Golf Club, expecting to discuss his first round at the PGA Championship, when he stopped abruptly. Xander Schauffele was still talking, going over the details of his own record-breaking round, and Woods stepped back to let him speak.

When you tie an all-time record in the majors, even the GOATs give you the opportunity to say whatever you want.

“It’s a good start to a great tournament, which I’m obviously still going to take,” Schauffele said after his round. “It’s only Thursday. It is more or less that.”

Well, there was a little more to it than that. Schauffele finished Thursday with a 9-under 62, just the fourth 62 in major championship history and the lowest score in PGA Championship history. Even more impressive: Schauffele already owns one of those three previous 62s, carded last year at the US Open. (The other two belong to Rickie Fowler, also at last year’s US Open, and Branden Grace at the 2017 Open Championship. Perhaps worryingly, none of the previous three won.)

The 62 also put him atop the leaderboard – obviously – three shots ahead of the field.

“Alex, he’s such a complete player,” playing partner Justin Thomas said Thursday. “He’s playing really, really good golf right now. So you feel like he’s one of those guys, every time he plays right now, he’s going to be in contention.

Every magnificent Schauffele statistic – and there are many – comes with an asterisk, a glowing neon “Yeah, but…”. Schauffele is an Olympic gold medalist. He is ranked third in the world and has eight top-10 finishes in 12 events this season. He’s clearly capable of throwing darts at the majors. Since 2017, he has 12 top-10 finishes in the majors and only three missed cuts.

Yeah, but… he hasn’t made a deal on any of these majors yet. He’s finished second at the Masters and the Open Championship, a T3 at the US Open and a T10 at the PGA Championship… but a close finish at a major only earns you a yellow block on your Wikipedia stats page.

Xander Schauffele smiles after the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Matt York)Xander Schauffele smiles after the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Xander Schauffele set a course record Thursday afternoon to kick off the PGA Championship. (AP/Matt York)

Schaufele took advantage of phenomenally favorable conditions on Thursday, getting an early start and almost instantly ahead of the peloton. Starting at No. 10, he made birdies on his second and fourth holes to take the lead, then added seven more birdies for the rest of the round on top of that.

“When you play one of the easiest 9-unders you’ve ever seen,” Thomas said with a laugh, “you feel like you’re shooting a million.”

Schauffele starts Friday afternoon at the earliest; bad weather hitting Louisville could delay the second round. Regardless, Schauffele knows there is still a long way to go.

“The summit seems far away and I feel like I have a lot of work to do,” Schauffele said. “But I’m slowly reducing it.”

A record cycle is a good way to start.

News Source : sports.yahoo.com
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