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Xander Schauffele wins PGA Championship over Bryson DeChambeau

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Xander Schauffele cashed in at just the right time Sunday, whirling in a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the PGA Championship for his first major with the lowest score in history major championships.

The Olympic gold medalist and La Jolla native got something even more valuable in cash: that massive Wanamaker Trophy after a wild week in Valhalla.

Schauffele closed with a 6-under 65 to beat Bryson DeChambeau, entertaining until the very end with his own 10-foot birdie on the par-5 18th for a 64.

Schauffele became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the final hole to win by one. And it took everything he had.

He already had mud on his golf ball on two keyholes along the back nine, preventing him from attacking the pin. His drive on the 17th bounced into a bunker, forcing him to fight for par and stay tied with DeChambeau, who had finished two groups ahead of him. And then his tee shot rolled just far enough toward the edge of a bunker to present another problem.

Schauffele had to stand with his feet in the sand, gripping the 4-iron tightly, aiming to the right and hoping for the best. He drilled a beauty, 35 meters short but with a good angle. He threw to 6 feet and was never closer to finally winning a major.

“I told myself this is my opportunity: take it,” Schauffele said.

The putt broke just enough to catch the left edge of the cup and swirled before disappearing. Schauffele, exuding the Californian cold, raised both arms above his head with the biggest smile before hugging Austin Kaiser, his caddy and former San Diego State teammate.

DeChambeau was on the court, remaining free for possible playoffs, watching Schauffele from a large video board. He saw the winning putt fall and walked to the 18th to join so many other players who wanted to congratulate the 30-year-old.

” I gave everything. I put as much effort into it as I could and I knew my B game would be good enough,” DeChambeau said. “Clearly someone played incredibly well. Alex deserves a major championship.

Viktor Hovland, the FedEx Cup champion who wasn’t even sure he belonged in Valhalla while trying to talk his way out of a slump, also made a 10-foot putt after DeChambeau hit his to tie it in head. He missed the birdie, then missed a meaningless putt and shot 66 to finish third.

Schauffele, who started this championship with a 62 to tie the major championship record, finished at 21-under 263 with that game-winning birdie. This suddenly breaks the major record previously shared by Brooks Koepka at the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive and Henrik Stenson at the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon.

And so ended another memorable week in Valhalla.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, arriving five days after the birth of his first child, was arrested and briefly jailed Friday morning for failing to follow the instructions of police investigating a fatal car crash involving a pedestrian an hour later early.

He got out of jail and arrived at the course in time to play the second round and shot 66. But that caught up with him on the weekend. Scheffler lost the competition with a 73 on Saturday – his first round over par since last August. He finished with a 65 to tie for eighth.

Two players – Schauffele on Thursday and Shane Lowry on Saturday – tied the major record with a 62. Record scores seemed to fall almost every day on a rain-softened course.

All that, and it was a putt Schauffele will never forget.

“I really didn’t want to go to the playoffs with Bryson,” he said.

In many ways, this time was too late. It had been almost two years since his last victory at the Scottish Open. Schauffele has eight consecutive top-20 finishes in major tournaments in Valhalla. He has already finished second twice and six top 5s.

And in the last two months alone, he lost a 54-hole lead when he was chased by Scheffler’s 64 at the Players Championship and Rory McIlroy’s 65 last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.

This is his eighth victory on the PGA Tour, not counting his Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games in 2021. This decision places him at the best career world number 2, still far from Scheffler, but it ensures to Schauffele that he will qualify for Team USA at the Olympics.

Please check back for updates to this story.

California Daily Newspapers

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