US PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele holds off Bryson DeChambeau to win his first major

Californian shot final round of 65 with birdie on last to clinch win, while Shane Lowry finished in a tie for sixth

Xander Schauffele didn’t buckle, not this time; not when it mattered most to him. And the 30-year-old Californian – who remained calm and collected until overcome by emotion on the 18th green when reality struck home with a closing birdie – finally earned a breakthrough major in wire-to-wire fashion in the 106th US PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

That final birdie, one of seven by Schauffele in a closing round of 65 for a total of 21-under-par 263, was needed to edge out Bryson DeChambeau by a single stroke.

On a day when DeChambeau and, for a long time, Viktor Hovland fired at flags and compiled birdies that saw them threaten to provide further misery on Schauffele – a week after he carried the 54-hole lead into the Wells Fargo only to become a bit part in the drama as Rory McIlroy usurped him – there was to be no repeat of that capitulation.

This time, Schauffele was the last man standing as he added that cherished Major to the Olympic gold medal he won in Tokyo in 2020.


For Shane Lowry, there was the almost inevitable coming back to earth of attempting to follow up his third round of 62 – which equalled the low score in any Major – and the fluidity and majesty of Saturday’s play couldn’t be replicated as he signed off with a 70 for 270 in tied-sixth place alongside Justin Rose.

Rory McIlroy’s final round of 67 – which, remarkably, featured seven birdies in the round but also two dunked water balls on his homeward journey where he managed to escape with bogeys on the 13th and 15th – saw him sign for a total of 12-under-par 272 and a tied-12th finish.

“I’ve been on a big stretch of golf here. I think this was my sixth event in seven weeks. I’ve got a week off and then I’m playing another four in a row. I’m feeling good about my game. I feel like things are sort of clicking more, especially after the win in New Orleans. Obviously played well last week in Charlotte [to win Wells Fargo]. I’ve a week to sort of reset and try to get going again,” said McIlroy.

On this occasion, Schauffele was the one lifting the giant Wanamaker Trophy as affirmation of his brilliance, the 21-under-par total representing the lowest 72-holes score of any Major.

Schauffele was made to work for his breakthrough Major, though. Hovland – last year’s FedEx Cup winner who then switched coach which saw him fall into a trough only to return in recent weeks to his old swing coach Joe Mayo and find instant inspiration and a return to top form – made his move with a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth and claimed six birdies in nine holes, only for that birdie on the 13th to be his last one. He had a birdie putt on the 18th, but missed, and then missed the par one too. He was closer than the three-shot gap to Schauffele suggested.

DeChambeau, fueled by the crowd who took his deeds to their hearts, produced a scintillating run too, making the most of his good fortune on the 16th where his wild drive hit trees but somehow found a way back onto the fairway. The birdie he then conjured there and another closing one on the 18th – of seven birdies in a bogey free 64 – enabled him to set the clubhouse target of 20-under.

Schauffele – on that 20-under mark as he hit his drive on the 18th – needed a birdie to claim the win and avoid a potential playoff. The drive leaked left, and he was left with a difficult lie, the ball outside the bunker, his feet in the sand. But he manufactured a superb shot to short of the green, pitched to eight feet and got the birdie putt to ensure DeChambeau’s time on the practice range was for nought.

“I was actually kind of emotional after the putt lipped in. It’s been a while since I’ve won [the 2022 Scottish Open], and I kept saying it all week, ‘I just need to stay in my lane’. Man, was it hard to stay in my lane today, but 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 house, but it’s all good now,” he said.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times