Xander Schauffele leads after historic start – US PGA Championship

Round 1

Xander Schauffele holds a three-shot lead after creating major history during the opening round of the PGA Championship, where pre-tournament favourites Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy also made strong starts.

Schauffele – a runner-up at the Wells Fargo Championship last week – carded nine birdies in a stunning bogey-free round at Valhalla Golf Club, seeing him post the first 62 round in PGA Championship history and just the fourth ever in a men’s major.

The American’s daunting clubhouse target of nine under was never close to being beaten on a low-scoring Thursday, with Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala sharing second on six under ahead of a logjam a further stroke back that includes McIlroy.

McIlroy began his bid for a third consecutive victory and elusive fifth major title began with a five-under 66, just as it did when he won the PGA Championship at this venue in 2014, while Scheffler is within five of the lead as he chases a fifth victory in six starts.

McIlroy is within striking distance of the lead after his opening round.

Brooks Koepka opened his title defence with a four-under 67 to sit alongside Scheffler and Jon Rahm birdied four of his last six holes to salvage an unlikely opening-round 70, while Tiger Woods – a former winner at Valhalla in 2000 – is 10 off the pace after a bogey-bogey finish.

Schauffele started on the back nine and followed birdies at the 11th and 13th with three more in a four-hole stretch from the 15th to reach the turn in 31, then extended his lead by picking up a shot at the par-four second.

Back-to-back birdies from the fourth and another at the par-five seventh moved Schauffele to nine under and increased the likelihood of the first 61 in men’s major history, with the American still equalling the lowest major ever – in relation to par – despite finishing with successive pars.

It’s the second time in as many years that Schauffele has opened with a 62 in a major, following him and Rickie Fowler doing it in the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club, with Branden Grace in 2017 at The Open the only other player to previously manage it.

Scheffler reacts after making an eagle on the first.

“I think not winning makes you want to win more, as weird as that is,” said Schauffele, who last won at the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open. “For me, at least, I react to it and I want it more and more and more, which makes me want to work harder and harder and harder.”

Finau made a bogey-free start to the week to share second with Theegala, who birdied each of his last three holes, while McIlroy produced a three-birdie burst of his own – including a chip-in at the sixth – on his way to an opening 66.

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, Tom Kim and Thomas Detry were also among the group on five under, while Scheffler holed out from the fairway to eagle the par-four first and threatened to be the closest challenger to Schauffele.

Scheffler – making his first appearance since the birth of his son last week – mixed four birdies with two bogeys during the remainder of his round, while Koepka followed a tap-in eagle with a 35-foot birdie late in his round to join the world No 1 on four under.

Schauffele had a 30ft putt for a first-round score of 61, which would have been a record in a men’s tournament. ‘I’ll take a 62 in any major any day,’ he said.

“I’m not really going to worry about trying to shoot nine under,” Scheffler said. “I’m just going to go out and try to hit good shots and play my own game. I’d like to clean up a few of the mistakes. I missed two putts I felt like I should have holed today, but that’s going to happen when the greens get a little chewed up.”

Former major champions Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau are part of the group on three under that contains FedExCup champion Viktor Hovland, with two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas and Grand Slam hopeful Jordan Spieth joining Matt Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry in making opening 69s.

Rahm recovered from four bogeys in his first six holes to birdie fourth of his last six and finish under par, as US Open champion Wyndham Clark stuttered to a level-par 71 and Ludvig Aberg joined Brian Harman and Woods in ending the day on one over.

Shane Lowry overcame a rough start to post a very solid opening round of two-under-par 69. Pádraig Harrington struggled at times on his way to 77.

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