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The 'best current player without a major' holds nerve after 'helluva' save on 18, Min Woo Lee best placed Aussie

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19th May, 2024
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Xander Schauffele has answered questions about his ability to close out tournaments in emphatic fashion with a wire-to-wire victory at the PGA Championship in Kentucky.

Schauffele carded a final round of 65 at Valhalla to hold off the challenges of fellow American Bryson DeChambeau and Norway’s Viktor Hovland to secure his maiden major title. 

The Tokyo Olympics champion held his nerve to birdie the 72nd hole for a winning total of 21 under par, the lowest score in relation to par in major championship history, eclipsing Australian Jason Day’s 2015 PGA Championship-winning score at Whistling Straits. 

In victory, Schauffele pockets $3,330,000 (AU$4.97m).

Xander Schauffele celebrates on the 18th green after making a birdie to win the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 19, 2024 in Louisville. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Schauffele held a three-shot lead after also equalling the lowest single-round score for a second time with a stunning opening 62, but came into the final round tied with two-time major winner Collin Morikawa. 

A birdie on the first helped Schauffele reclaim the outright lead and further gains on the fourth, seventh and ninth took him into the back nine two ahead. 

A clumsy bogey on the par-5 10th and Hovland’s birdie on the 12th meant the pair were suddenly tied and Hovland moved in front for the first time with a birdie on the 13th. 

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Schauffele responded superbly to pick up shots on the 11th and 12th to reclaim the lead before DeChambeau joined playing partner Hovland on Schauffele’s heels with a birdie on the 16th after his pulled drive clattered into the trees and bounced back into the fairway. 

DeChambeau holed from 10 feet for birdie on the 18th to join Schauffele on 20 under before Hovland failed to convert from the same distance and also missed the par putt. 

Schauffele bravely saved par from right of the 17th green but was unfortunate to see his drive on the last stop just short of a fairway bunker, leaving him with a hugely awkward stance. 

With both feet in the sand, Schauffele hit a superb shot short of the green, pitched up to six feet and held his nerve to hole the winning putt for his first major title. 

“This is what you want, you want to be great to win a major and you’re going to have to be great to get this up and down,” it was said in commentary. “Helluva a second shot to get it here.

“Helluva a week but this, the biggest shot of his life,” it was said in reply.

“Oh my goodness, it’s a great shot.”

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Needing to make a tricky five-foot putt, Schauffele made sure of taking out the break with a firm putt and, in doing so, the nearly man of golf rid the tag of being the “best player without a men’s golf major” to get his name on the Wanamaker Trophy.

It was the perfect riposte to those who viewed him as something of an underachiever, especially after being overhauled by Scottie Scheffler in the last round of the Players Championship in March and by Rory McIlroy at Quail Hollow last week.

Min Woo Lee closed with a 67 to finish at the leading Australian in a share of 26th at nine under with 2023 champion Brooks Koepka.

Fellow Australians Lucas Herbert and Day finished tied-43rd at six-under, while Open champion Cameron Smith was a further three shots back after a final round of two-over par.

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