Golf-Schauffele finally adds some major silverware to Olympic gold

  • Golf
  • Monday, 20 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: May 5, 2024; Singapore, SINGAPORE; Brooks Koepka during the third round of LIV Golf Singapore at Sentosa Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Edgar Su/Reuters via USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Xander Schauffele finally added some elusive silverware to his Olympic gold, shedding the title of golf's nearly man on Sunday with a dramatic birdie on the final hole to win the PGA Championship and hoist the massive Wanamaker Trophy.

A week after squandering a two-shot lead in the final round at the Wells Fargo, Schauffele took the same advantage onto the back nine at the Valhalla Golf Club but this time would not fold, holding his nerve and claiming his maiden major title with a pressure packed six-foot putt.

"I was pretty nervous," admitted Schauffele. "I kept reading it, kept kind of panning.

"I thought, oh, my gosh, this is not what I want for a winning putt.

"I ended up playing it straight.

"Just so much relief.

"I don't really remember it lipping in, I just heard everyone roaring and I just looked up to the sky in relief."

That birdie earned Schauffele a one-shot decision over Bryson DeChambeau and his first win since the 2022 Scottish Open.

With an Olympic title, seven PGA Tour victories and ranked number three in the world, Schauffele has long been rated among golf's very best.

But despite his immense talent the 30-year-old had, until Sunday, been unable to close the deal at the majors, posting 12 top-10 results, including runnerup finishes at the Masters and British Open.

"I've become very patient not knocking off any wins in the last couple years," said Schauffele. "The people closest to me know how stubborn I can be.

"This is awesome. It's super sweet.

"But when I break it down, I'm really proud of how I handled certain moments on the course today, different from the past."

And that includes the recent past.

After going on to lose to Rory McIlroy by five shots at the Wells Fargo this month, Schauffele played like a man on a mission in Louisville, posting a wire-to-wire win that began with an opening round 62 that equalled the lowest score ever at a major.

For the seething gallery at Valhalla there was a foreboding sense of deja vu building as the back nine unfolded.

Schauffele reached the turn clinging to a two-shot lead that vanished by the time he walked off the 10th green where his par putt lipped out shortly after Norway's Viktor Hovland, playing two groups ahead, birdied the par-four 12th.

Hovland then poured in another birdie putt at 13 to snatch the outright lead piling the pressure on Schauffele.

But a determined Schauffele, unfazed by his bogey, refused to back down from the challenge and flashed his resolve, hitting right back with birdies at the 11th and 12th holes to regain the outright lead that he would never surrender.

"All those close calls for me, even last week, that sort of feeling, it gets to you at some point," said Schauffele. "Definitely a chip on the shoulder there.

"It's just fuel, fuel to my fire. It always has been growing up, and it certainly was leading up to this."

With the win Schauffele will move up to number two in the world rankings but said the climb to the summit goes on.

Schauffele said he will take a moment to enjoy the view and maybe have beer before continuing the ascent to the top of the rankings where Scottie Scheffler has set up camp.

"All of us are climbing this massive mountain," said Schauffele. "At the top of the mountain is Scottie Scheffler.

"I won this today, but I'm still not that close to Scottie Scheffler in the big scheme of things.

"I got one good hook up there in the mountain up on that cliff, and I'm still climbing.

"I might have a beer up there on that side of the hill there and enjoy this, but it's not that hard to chase when someone is so far ahead of you."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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