2024 PGA Championship leaderboard, winner: Xander Schauffele breaks through to claim first career major

One week after disappointing in the final round and giving away a tournament victory, Xander Schauffele powered past a stacked leaderboard to win the 2024 PGA Championship in wire-to-wire fashion, breaking through to claim the first major championship of his career. The 30-year-old American tied a major record with a 9-under 62 to open play and never relented, leading after 18, 36, 54 and ultimately 72 holes by going a record-setting 21 under at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.

With his wire-to-wire victory, Schauffele becomes the 11th player to accomplish such a feat in PGA Championship history joining the likes of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Brooks Koepka who was last to do so in 2019.

Schauffele, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, has come excruciatingly close at majors throughout his career with six top-five and 12 total top-10 finishes across 27 prior starts. He has frequently been known to pull ahead early but struggle closing at the sport’s biggest events; that was a concern again Saturday as his leading margin shrunk with some of the best golfers in the world gaining significant ground during Moving Day.

Ultimately, Schauffele proved his naysayers wrong in convincing fashion Sunday. While 54-hole co-leader Collin Morikawa was unable to find a low number on the day until the last hole, Schauffele carded four birdies to go out in 31 and three more to come in at 34.

After taking a step back with a bogey on the 10th, Schauffele posted consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th to regain the lead with a birdie on the 72nd hole of the tournament ultimately separating him from Bryson DeChambeau to give Schauffele the championship.

“I was actually kind of emotional after the putt lipped in,” Schauffele said. “It’s been a while since I’ve won, and I really just kept saying it all week, I just need to stay in my lane. Man, was it hard to stay in my lane today. I tried all day to just keep focus on what I’m trying to do and keep every hole ahead of me. Had some weird kind of breaks coming into the [club]house, but it’s all good now.”

Schauffele’s greatest challenger Sunday was indeed DeChambeau, who posted a round-of-the-day 64 with four birdies on the back nine, including a brilliant putt on the closing 18th hole. The duo were tied at 20 under as Schauffele completed his final two holes with his own birdie on the 18th clinching the Wanamaker Trophy and $3.3 million winner’s share of the PGA Championship’s $18.5 million purse.

They say consistency precedes greatness, and there may be no better single phrase to describe Schauffele. After sleeping on the lead for three consecutive nights — and enduring the criticism of having not won in nearly two full years — Schauffele kept his head down and stayed straight in Louisville.

Having long been dubbed by his peers as being “the guy,” Schauffele finally showed why Sunday.

Taking punches from DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland for most of the day, Schauffele biggest wake-up call came on the par-5 10th when he inexplicably dropped a shot on one of the property’s easiest holes. It was the first time he had company atop the leaderboard Sunday (after Morikawa dropped off), and it set up one of the most memorable and clutch finishes in recent major championship history.

“I’ve had that feeling in the past where I’ve [failed to close], and I wasn’t able to convert the putt. And finally, I got a couple putts to lip in, hit some decent putts with better pace, the ones that were a little more straight uphill,” he said.

Schauffele’s birdie on the last is what historians will remember, but the moments leading up to it were just as crucial. Receiving not one but two straight bad breaks off the tee across his final two holes, Schauffele showed a depth of toughness he had not displayed previously.

He did well to save par on the 71st hole, creating the opportunity to win in regulation, yet it proved to be no easy task. Hitting his tee shot along the left side of the fairway on the par-5 finisher, Schauffele’s ball settled in the first cut and left him with an awkward stance with his feet in the stand. 

Bad bounces like that have affected him previously, but this weekend was clearly different. Instead of curling up, protecting himself and bracing for a punch, Schauffele countered. He laced a long iron up near the green, pitched his third just inside 7 feet … and the rest is history. 

“I stayed very patient,” Schauffele said. “I was looking up at the [leader]board. There’s been times where I tried to look away from it until the back nine, but today, I was looking at it. I just wanted to be aware of everything. I wanted to know exactly where I stood. I wanted to know — address my feelings when they were happening … and I just kept fighting.”

This is what won Schauffele the Wanamaker Trophy. He already flashed all the tangibles. He’s a statistical darling. He’s sneaky-long off the tee. He is perhaps the most well-rounded player in the professional sport. Still, something was clearly amiss. 

Schauffele found the missing link: toughness. That “you’re going to have to pull this trophy out of my dying grasp” mindset. And now, Schauffele finds himself in a club where he rightfully belongs — among fellow major champions.

2024 PGA Championship leaderboard

2. Bryson DeChambeau (-20): The ultimate showman. DeChambeau fed off three things Sunday: his driver, the crowd and his playing partner. Whenever he was able to pull out the big stick, he channeled greatness. Three birdies across his first six holes put him firmly in the conversation for the second straight major and second straight PGA. He failed to make a birdie on the par-5 7th, but he made up for it with birdies on Nos. 10 and 13 to inch closer to the top. 

The break of his tournament arrived on No. 16 when his tee ball destined for the hay hit a tree and bounced back in the middle of the fairway. He laced an 8 iron from 230 yards to 3 feet and gave himself new life. Surely, he would have loved to split the fairway on No. 18, but the shot he hit from the bunker to set up his closing birdie proved that — when the lights are the brightest — he is at his best.

“I played well, didn’t strike it my best all week,” DeChambeau said. “Felt like I had my B-game, pretty much. My putting was A+, my wedging was A+, short game was A+, driving was like B. You know, shot 20-under-par in a major championship. Proud of myself for the way I handled adversity. Definitely disappointing, but one that gives me a lot of momentum for the rest of the majors. I said today it was closing time, but it will be closing time hopefully, hopefully over the next couple majors.”

3. Viktor Hovland (-18): He revealed after his round Saturday that he was thinking about not even teeing it up this week, and let’s just say it’s a good thing he did. Hovland flashed the form that carried him to the FedEx Cup crown and his Ryder Cup heroics; it all stood as a firm reminder that his best goes a long way. After a somewhat-sluggish start, the Norwegian rattled off six birdies across a nine-hole stretch in the middle of his round. He jumped into the solo lead at one point and looked primed to be the man to chase down Schauffele. Hovland struck the ball great and missed some real chances coming in, notably from about 10 feet on the 17th and 18th. If both those putts drop, Hovland finishes on top.

T4. Collin Morikawa, Thomas Detry (-15): Morikawa’s final round at Valhalla had shades of his final round at Augusta National. It didn’t look like he missed an iron shot early, but he was simply unable to get anything rolling on the greens missing chances on No. 4 (10 feet), No. 7 (5 feet) and No. 9 (10 feet). Morikawa carded nine straight pars to turn in 35, and by then, he was four off the pace of Schauffele. His major acumen cannot be overlooked as he now has seven top-five finishes in 18 appearances.

T6. Justin Rose, Shane Lowry (-14)

T8. Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Billy Horschel, Robert MacIntyre (-13): It’s not hard to identify the outlier round in Scheffler’s 67-66-73-65 performance at Valhalla. The Masters champion ran out of juice on Moving Day after an eventful Friday, and with the conditions as scoreable as ever for a major, he was left in the dust. Scheffler now has 11 top 10s in 19 major starts.

“I think ‘hectic’ would probably be a good description [of my week],” Scheffler said. “Overall, right now, how I’m feeling, I’m fairly tired, definitely a lot more tired than I have been finishing some other tournaments. But I’m proud of today how we went out there and fought. I got off to kind of a slow start, and I was able to kind of get some momentum and post a good round and give myself some good momentum.”

T12. Rory McIlroy, Sahith Theegala, Dean Burmester, Lee Hodges, Taylor Moore, Alex Noren (-12): McIlroy’s final round encapsulated his week as it was filled with a lot of stop-and-go work. After an opening bogey, the four-time major champion rattled off three straight birdies ahead of the turn before alternating birdies and bogeys from Nos. 12-16. He had his chances to make his imprint on this championship after opening with a 5-under 66, but the inability to cash in when opportunities presented themselves proved too much to overcome in ideal scoring conditions. The 35-year-old just missed finishing inside the top 10 for the eighth time in the last 10 major championships.

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