Xander Schauffele shoots 62 to tie major record for 2nd time

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Xander Schauffele is selecting up proper the place he left off.

For the second time in a lower than a 12 months, the third-ranked participant on this planet tied the document for the bottom spherical at a significant championship by capturing an opening-round 62, this time within the first spherical of the PGA Championship.

A 12 months after he shot a U.S. Open-record 62 within the first spherical on the Los Angeles Nation Membership, Schauffele’s 9-under spherical Thursday featured 9 birdies and no bogeys and broke the Valhalla Nation Membership course document of 63 set by José María Olazábal in 2000, which had been tied for the PGA Championship document.

“I can not nitpick,” Schauffele stated when requested to match the 2 rounds. “I am going to take a 62 in any main any day.”

Schauffele’s document spherical separated him from the remainder of the sphere by 3 pictures. Tony Finau, who has 10 top-10 finishes at majors with out a win, Sahith Theegala and Mark Hubbard carded 65s, whereas Rory McIlroy shot a 66 to settle in for a seven-way tie at 5 underneath on the website of his final main win in 2014.

Additionally at 66 was two-time main winner Collin Morikawa, who performed among the best rounds of the afternoon wave, carding seven birdies in his final 12 holes.

After a three-week hiatus for the start of his son, Scottie Scheffler returned to the golf world and wasted no time eliciting his first roar by holing out for eagle on his first gap of the match.

What adopted within the ensuing 17 holes was a spherical that featured Scheffler’s B-game, at finest, and included two bogeys and 4 birdies on his method to a 67, 5 pictures behind the chief in a big group that features defending champion Brooks Koepka, who had an eagle and a birdie in his last three holes.

“I felt like there was a pair issues I can clear up going into tomorrow, however total in the present day was a strong spherical,” Scheffler stated after his forty first consecutive spherical at par or higher.

Tiger Woods completed with back-to-back three-putt bogeys and is 10 strokes behind Schauffele.

The primary spherical ended with 64 gamers breaking par to surpass the PGA Championship document of 60 set in 2006 at Medinah, in keeping with the Elias Sports activities Bureau.

Schauffele, who began on No. 10, birdied 5 of his first 9 holes and carded a 31 earlier than turning over to the entrance 9 and persevering with his birdie march. Over the ultimate eight holes, he made 4 birdies to open a 3-stroke lead — tied with Bobby Nichols (1964) and Raymond Floyd (1982) for the most important on this occasion after 18 holes.

He had an opportunity to set the most important document with a birdie putt on No. 9, however his 33-footer missed to the precise. By the point he putted for par, enjoying alongside Louisville native Justin Thomas, it was clear Schauffele had taken heart stage.

“Once you’re enjoying with one of many best 9 unders you have ever seen, it makes you’re feeling such as you’re capturing one million,” stated Thomas, who shot a 2-under 69. “Xander, he is such a whole participant. … He is enjoying actually, actually nice golf proper now. So you’re feeling like he is a type of guys, each time he tees it up proper now, he will be in rivalry.”

Schauffele, a San Diego native, isn’t any stranger to first-round leads at main tournaments. He has the bottom profession first-round scoring common in majors among the many gamers within the area who’ve appeared in at the very least 25 majors. It has but to lead to wins, nonetheless.

Final 12 months, Schauffele’s opening-round 62 on the U.S. Open, which was equaled by Rickie Fowler and tied the first-ever 62 by Branden Grace on the 2017 Open Championship, put him within the driver’s seat for the match. However over the following three days, Schauffele withered and completed tied for tenth following a final-round 72.

Schauffele and top-10 finishes go hand in hand. He has eight of them this season, however no victories. That development extends to main championships. Of this 12 months’s area, solely Fowler (13) has extra profession top-10 finishes at a significant with out a win than Schauffele (12), who has completed inside the highest 10 at three of the previous 5.

Requested whether or not he’s enjoying the perfect golf of his profession, Schauffele could not assist however oblige.

“I might say it’s totally near it, if not it,” he stated. “I really feel there’s spurts, moments in time the place you’re feeling like you possibly can management the ball very well, you are seeing the greens very well, you are chipping very well. However over a chronic interval, it is powerful to repairs excessive efficiency.”

Final week on the Wells Fargo Championship, Schauffele had his finest shot at securing his first PGA Tour win because the 2022 Scottish Open as he led McIlroy by a stroke heading into the ultimate spherical. However a last spherical of even par towards McIlroy’s 6 underneath left Schauffele with one other second-place end — the 14th of his profession.

“I feel not profitable makes you wish to win extra, as bizarre as that’s,” Schauffele stated. “For me, at the very least, I react to it, and I would like it increasingly and extra, and it makes me wish to work more durable and more durable and more durable.”

However few gamers are enjoying higher golf than Schauffele is true now. He ranks inside the highest 10 in strokes gained, and it is solely his placing (forty second this 12 months) that has held him again.

Schauffele’s profile fits Valhalla properly. The 7,600-yard course requires gamers to be distinctive with their lengthy irons, and Schauffele tops the PGA Tour this 12 months on method pictures over 200 yards.

On Thursday, Schauffele continued his stellar method play, gaining 2.5 strokes on the sphere. On the 498-yard, par-4 No. 6, Schauffele had 246 yards to the outlet and hit it on the inexperienced, the place he calmly two-putted for par.

His most spectacular effort, nonetheless, might need been the par-3 eighth. After airmailing the inexperienced, Schauffele hit an ideal, low pitch that trickled to inside inches for a tap-in par.

Scheffler, a four-time winner this 12 months, confirmed little rust in his return to play, however he missed just a few quick putts — two of which resulted in dropped pictures — that introduced again some recollections of his placing struggles earlier this 12 months. Nonetheless, Scheffler seems to be proper the place he desires to be. Given his kind as of late, he has proven us {that a} spherical like Thursday’s is as poorly as he can play.

McIlroy had his ninth opening spherical of 66 or higher in a significant, probably the most ever by any participant.

“I kind of felt prefer it was fairly scrappy for probably the most half. I do not actually really feel like I left many on the market,” McIlroy stated after his spherical, which included hitting balls within the water on Nos. 9 and 18. “I believed I acquired lots out of my sport in the present day. Some good up-and-downs. I had just a little little bit of a scrappy half across the flip there. … Not likely proud of how I performed, however at the very least proud of the rating.”

With 54 holes to play and loads of leaderboard shifting to return, particularly at a dramatic course corresponding to Valhalla, Schauffele is aware of in addition to anybody that what he does Thursday will not matter if he cannot stick with it by Sunday.

“It is simply Thursday,” Schauffele stated with a smile. “That is about it.”