Xander Schauffele holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the US PGA Championship at Valhalla

SCHAUFFELE MAKES MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH AT THE PGA

Perennial golfing bridesmaid Xander Schauffele finally added a major trophy to his Olympic gold medal and seven PGA Tour titles after winning the 108th PGA Championship with a superb front-running performance, sealing the deal with a 72nd hole birdie.

A week after letting slip a two-shot lead in the final round at the Wells Fargo, the 30-year-old American took the same advantage onto the back nine at Valhalla Golf Club, but this time he held his nerve, claiming his maiden major title with a pressure packed six-foot putt to deny the charging Bryson DeChambeau the chance of a play-off.

He finished on 21-under-par, a record low score to par in the history of the majors, and in a week where he started with a record-equalling low round of 62, and added rounds of 68 and 68, before signing off with a six-under-par 65 on Sunday.

“I was pretty nervous,” Schauffele later admitted about his final six-foot birdie putt. “I thought, oh my gosh, this is not what I want for a winning putt.I  ended up playing it straight. I don’t really remember it lipping in, I just heard everyone roaring and I just looked up to the sky in relief.”

Ranked number three in the world, Schauffele has long been rated among golf’s very best. But despite his immense talent he had, until Sunday, been unable to get over the line at the majors, posting 12 top-10 results since he came on the scene in 2017, including runner-up finishes at The Open Championship in 2018 and the Masters in 2019.

“I’ve become very patient not knocking off any wins in the last couple years,” said Schauffele, whose last win came at the Socttish Open in June 2022. “The people closest to me know how stubborn I can be. This is awesome. It’s super sweet. But when I break it down, I’m really proud of how I handled certain moments on the course today, different from the past.”

Xander Schauffele celebrates after winning the US PGA Championship

THE CHASING PACK SENSED BLOOD

And as Schauffele reached the turn clinging on to a two-shot lead that had evaporated by the time he walked off the 10th green, where his par putt lipped out shortly after Viktor Hovland birdied the 12th, there was a more than the faintest whiff of history being about to repeat itself as the chasing pack sensed blood.

Hovland then poured in another birdie putt at 13 to snatch the outright lead, piling the pressure on Schauffele. But the determined Californian, unfazed by his bogey, refused to back down from the challenge and immediately hit back with birdies at 11 and 12 to restore a lead that he would never relinquish.

DeChambeau, all bristle and bravado, and with the crowd at his back, profited with a birdie after his wild drive on 16 hit a tree and bounced back into the fairway, and he also birdied the last to card a 64 and draw level with Schauffele, sparking raucous celebrations on the 18th green.

Hovland then had a putt to also get to 20 under, but crumbled under the pressure, taking three shots from 10 feet as he finished on 18 under. However, Schauffele stood up to the onslaught, rolling in a birdie of his own at the last to secure the title in the most dramatic of fashions.

“ALL THOSE CLOSE CALLS WERE JUST FUEL TO MY FIRE”

“All those close calls for me, even last week, that sort of feeling, it gets to you at some point,” said Schauffele.  It’s just fuel to my fire. It always has been, and it certainly was leading up to this.”

With the win Schauffele will move up to number two in the world rankings, but he said the climb to the summit goes on.

“All of us are climbing this massive mountain,” he said. “At the top of the mountain is Scottie Scheffler. I won this today, but I’m still not that close to Scottie in the big scheme of things. I got one good hook up there in the mountain and I’m still climbing. I might have a beer up there on that side of the hill there and enjoy this, but it’s not that hard to chase when someone is so far ahead of you.”

BRITISH & IRISH CHALLENGE FADES

Justin Rose led the British challenge, finishing in a tie for sixth at 14 under par and with that becoming only the second player aged over 40, after the legendary Sam Snead, to make five consecutive top-15 finishes at this tournament.

Playing alongside Rose, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre failed to fire, although he closed with a superb eagle to post a 70 and 13-under total to cap a great week.Shane Lowry, who spectacularly equalled Schauffele’s 62 on Saturday – becoming the fourth player to do so – went cold with his putter as he also carded a 70.

Two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, who led jointly with Schauffele after round three, opened with 14 straight pars before bogeying the 15th. His solitary birdie came at the last in an otherwise disappointing round as he finished five off the pace.

The world’s top two players, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy, rounded off disappointing weekends at eight and nine shots back respectively, with the former having suffered a week of front page headlines that he will rather forget and the latter once again flattering to deceive when the pressure is really on.

Both will have their chances to re-write some wrongs when the Major train rolls into Pinehurst next month for the US Open, but for now the headlines belong to Xander Schauffele, the nearly man who finally arrived.

For all the scores from the 108th PGA Championship, click here