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Xander Schauffele fires 62 to set PGA Championship record

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Xander Schauffele smiles on the eighth hole green during the first round of the 106th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 16, 2024, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Xander Schauffele smiles on the eighth hole green during the first round of the 106th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 16, 2024, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    Last summer, Xander Schauffele matched the all-time low round in a major.

    He matched it again Thursday at the PGA Championship, setting this event’s record low score in the process.

    Schauffele opened in 9-under 62 at Valhalla Golf Club, matching his 62 from the opening round at last year’s U.S. Open (also shot that day by Rickie Fowler), a major record score that was first carded by Branden Grace at the 2017 Open Championship.

    A week after finishing runner-up to Rory McIlroy at the Wells Fargo Championship – McIlroy played an eight-hole stretch in 8-under Sunday, en route to a five-stroke victory – Schauffele put his foot on the accelerator Thursday morning and didn’t let up. It gave him a three-stroke lead over Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala through the morning wave.

    “I think I look at every tough spot now as another opportunity, try to flip it into a positive and make myself want to earn it versus getting scared of the moment,” Schauffele told PGATOUR.COM after his record start at the PGA. “Just embrace it, and really earn it and all the hard work you’ve been doing is worth it. Kind of taking that mentality on.

    “I have been putting myself in some really good spots, I’ve been playing really good golf and there are obviously times when you’ll get a little uncomfortable. And there were a few times where I was a little uncomfortable on Sunday, and my perspective on that is slowly changing a little bit.”

    Schauffele was plenty comfortable Thursday at Valhalla, hitting 12 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and needing just 24 putts. He ranked second in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and first in Strokes Gained: Putting through the morning wave, a potent combination.

    Eighteen rounds of 63 had previously been recorded in the PGA Championship. No score of 62 had been carded at this event, which is now in its 106th playing.

    “I’ll take 62 in a major any day,” Schauffele said Thursday. “It's a great start to a big tournament. One I'm obviously always going to take.”

    Schauffele rewrote tournament history on Thursday, his opening round at Valhalla including nine birdies and nine pars. The San Diego State alum began on No. 10, rattling off birdies on Nos. 11, 13, 15, 16 and 18 to make the turn in 5-under 31. He added birdies at Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 7, and he closed with a two-putt par at the par-4 ninth hole to secure the PGA Championship’s record low single-round score.

    Schauffele is no stranger to hot starts at majors. He entered the week with a 69.81 scoring average in the opening round of majors, the lowest all-time career first-round scoring average in major championship play among those who have appeared in at least 25 majors (courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau). He has been a frequent contender at majors for nearly a decade, recording 12 top-10 finishes in 27 career major starts entering this week. This includes two runner-up finishes – 2018 Open Championship, 2019 Masters – but he has yet to win a major championship. His week in Kentucky couldn’t have started much better, as he looks to change that.

    The only player to shoot 64 or better during a PGA Championship round at Valhalla GC was Jose Maria Olazabal, who carded a 63 (9-under that year) in the third round of the 2000 PGA Championship. A dozen other players have shot 65 here, including eight different players in 2014.

    Schauffele’s round Thursday is one to remember. Now he aims to convert it into his first major title.

    “I think not winning makes you want to win more, as weird as that is,” Schauffele said Thursday. “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.”

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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