Schauffele shows the way at PGA with record-breaking 62

Ian Chadband |

Xander Schauffele is all smiles after his record-breaking first-round of 62 at Valhalla.
Xander Schauffele is all smiles after his record-breaking first-round of 62 at Valhalla.

Xander Schauffele isn’t looking back after blasting into the lead at the US PGA Championship and breaking the tournament and Valhalla Golf Club course record with a first-round nine-under-par 62.

With his landmark round, the American Olympic champion has again equalled the lowest ever score at a major championship, a record he already shared after his 62 in the first round of last year’s US Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

So the 30-year-old Californian has now become the only player in golf history with multiple rounds of 62 in majors – but he won’t be satisfied if he cannot take advantage of his three-shot day-one advantage.

“I’d say it’s very close to my best, if not it,” said Schauffele.

“I’ll take a 62 in any major any day.

“It’s a great start to a big tournament, one I am obviously going to take. But it’s just Thursday.

“I can’t really think much more about it, just got to go and tee it up again tomorrow.”

Xander Schauffele.
Xander Schauffele crunches his tee shot on the 18th hole in Kentucky. (AP PHOTO)

Schauffele, who ended up finishing tied for 10th after that blistering US Open start, won’t be taking anything for granted once again while being pursued by some high-quality performers.

Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala shot six-under 65s, with the in-form Rory McIlroy, a previous PGA winner at Valhalla, a shot further back in a six-way tie for fourth.

Dual major winner Collin Morikawa, fellow American Tom Hoge, Scotland’s Robert McIntyre, German Thomas Detry and Korean sensation Tom Kim also carded rounds of 66.

World No.1 Scottie Scheffler opened with a 67, as did defending champion Brooks Koepka, while Australian ace Cameron Smith started with a promising three-under 68 and his LIV-playing compatriot Lucas Herbert went around in 69.

Seizing on the rain-softened conditions at Valhalla, Schauffele, coming off a runner-up finish behind McIlroy last week in the Wells Fargo Championship, played the back nine in 31 and then ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch in the middle of the front nine, all the putts inside 10 feet.

His ninth and final birdie was a long two-putt on the par-5 seventh, and it helped him seal the fourth-ever round of 62 in a major, alongside Branden Grace in the 2017 British Open, at Royal Birkdale, as well as Rickie Fowler, who like him, achieved the feat at last year’s US Open.

The previous best round at the PGA was a 63, with one of those being Jose Maria Olazabal’s course record at Valhalla 10 years ago.

Schauffele, who struck Olympic gold in Tokyo and is one of the best players not yet to win a major, had nine birdies all up and didn’t drop a shot in an immaculate display.

At his last hole, a 33-foot putt would have given him the first 61 in a major, but it slid right of the cup and he had to make a three-footer to end his round.

Tiger Woods saw another solid effort unravel near the end of his round as he carded a 72, the same disappointing opening that his veteran Australian playing partner and friend, Adam Scott, also recorded.

“That wasn’t the way I like to finish off a round,” Woods said.

“Long way to go, and we’ll see what happens.”

With agencies.