Schauffele First To Post Second 62 in a Major
17 May,2024 Credit : Andy Lyon - Getty Image

By Tim Liotta


Schauffele First To Post Second 62 in a Major

Don't get ahead of yourself. Xander Schauffele has done this before _ 62, opening round of a major. 

"It's a great start to a big tournament," said Schauffele. "One I'm obviously always going to take. It's just Thursday. That's about it."

Schauffele, who opened last year's U.S. Open with an 8-under-par 62 just minutes after Rickie Fowler became the first player in U.S. Open history to post a score that low, shot a 9-under-par 62 Thursday morning to take a three-shot lead after the opening round of the 106th PGA Championship.

Compromised by recent rains, the 7,609-yard Valhalla Golf Club course with narrow fairways and 3-inch rough was unable to defend itself against the field of 156 golfers, including 20 club professionals, which combined for 64 a PGA Championship record 64 sub-par rounds complete with 542 birdies and 7 eagles highlighted by Scottie Scheffeler sinking a 167-yard 9-iron on his first hole of the championship. 

Schauffele carded nine birdies, nine pars on a scorecard that included a 2, nine 3s, seven 4s and one 5 as he hit 12 of 14 fairways, 16 of 18 greens and needed just 24 putts. He played with Justin Thomas, who posted a 2-under-par 69. 

"When you're playing with one of the easiest 9-unders you've ever seen, it makes you feel like you're shooting a million," said Thomas. 

Schauffele's 62 is the lowest score ever posted in 30,154 rounds at a PGA Championship, which has been a 72-hole stroke play event since 1958, according to Elias Sports. 

Xander Schauffele's Major Championship Record

Tony Finau, Mark Hubbard and Sahith Theegala finished three shots behind Schauffele at 6-under-par 65, with seven golfers T5 at 5-under-par 66, including four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and two-time major champ Collin Morikawa.  

This is the fourth time in PGA Championship history that a player has jumped out to a three-shot lead after the first round - Dick Hart in 1963, Bobby Nichols in 1964 and Raymond Floyd in 1982. Nichols and Floyd went on to win, Hart finished T17.  

Schauffele settled for a par _ and his only 5 - on the first hole he played, the par-5 10th, which gave up 48 birdies Thursday, the fewest of the three par-5s, but the fourth-most on the day.

"I didn't get up-and-down on 10," said Schauffele. "I was able to birdie 11 and had a sweaty par on 12. It wasn't like a dream start. Being 1-under through 3 probably would have been a good start for me anyways, and when you shoot something low, you kind of get lost in the process of what you're doing versus thinking about how low you're trying to shoot."

The 62 was the fourth ever in major championship history, and Schauffele's second. Schauffele and Fowler posted the number in the first round at the 2023 U.S. Open at the Los Angeles Country Club. Brandon Grace was the first-player to post 62 at the 2017 Open Championship. 

Thursday's fireworks display of birdies and eagles was climaxed by Scheffler's one-bounce-into-the-cup 9-iron less than 15 minutes into his championship. 

"It was a stock 9-iron," Scheffler said. "I was trying to hit it right at the pin because I felt like if I hit it the right way, the shortest it was going to go was on the pin. I felt like it was going to go a little past the pin if anything, and it was nice to see that one go in, obviously.

Scheffler, the pre-tournament favorite who arrived at the championship a winner of four of his last five events, including the year's first major - his second Masters title - and a brand-new father, went onto card a 4-under-par 67 that added four birdies to go with a pair of bogeys to his first-hole lightning bolt. 

"I'm just going to go hit a few balls, hit a couple putts and try to get to sleep as quickly as I can tonight," Scheffler said. "I felt like there was a couple things I can clean up going into tomorrow, but overall today was a solid round."

McIlroy, who arrived at Valhalla fresh from his second PGA Tour victory in his last two starts, carded six birdies against a single bogey has he attempts to win his first major championship in a decade. His last came over this same Valhalla course in 2014. 

Brooks Koepka, the five-time major championship who is the defending PGA champ, posted a 4-under-par 67, carding an eagle on the par-5 seventh and three birdies along with a single bogey. 

Tiger Woods got it to 1-under-par through 16 holes, but finished bogey-bogey for a 1-over-par 72 in the first round of golf he's played since the Masters.  

"It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition, adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds," said Woods. "These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it."

There was no wasting any time for any player Thursday as the field posted 64 sub-par scores in the opening round, the most in the history of the PGA.

"It's soft," McIlroy said. "Greens are really soft, especially for the guys that played last week at Quail Hollow where the greens were particularly firm. You come to greens like this, second shots are easier. Chip shots are easier if you do miss the greens.

The rough, however, did pose enough of a challenge for Schauffele to dial things back a bit. 

"I felt like out here, you're just eyeing the fairway most times," Schauffele said. "It doesn't really matter if you fly a ball 325 yards. If it's in the rough, it doesn't do you any good. You'd rather be 300 yards in the middle of the fairway."

Even though the weather forecast for the next three days includes a wide range of possibilities, few are expecting the scoring to be any different than Thursday. 

"The greens could get a little bit firmer, so that could make it a little more tricky," said McIlroy. "But even if the fairways dry out, the zoysia, the ball doesn't really go anywhere when it lands.

"I could see it getting a touch firmer, but I still think it's going to be pretty low scoring.

No guarantees, however. 

"Who knows with the weather, it might rain, so the course might be playing completely different."