Xander Schauffele claims first major title at US PGA Championship

pa ready, xander schauffele, viktor hovland, bryson dechambeau, scottie scheffler, rory mcilroy, quail hollow, louisville, phil casey, xander schauffele claims first major title at us pga championship

Xander Schauffele celebrates after winning the US PGA Championship at Valhalla (Jeff Roberson/AP) (AP)

Xander Schauffele answered questions about his ability to close out tournaments in emphatic fashion with a wire-to-wire victory in the US PGA Championship.

Schauffele carded a final round of 65 at Valhalla to hold off the challenges of Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland to secure a maiden major title.

The Olympic champion held his nerve to birdie the 72nd hole for a winning total of 21 under par, the lowest score in relation to par in major championship history.

Schauffele held a three-shot lead after also equalling the lowest single-round score for a second time with a stunning opening 62, but came into the final round tied with two-time major winner Collin Morikawa.

A birdie on the first saw Schauffele reclaim the outright lead and further gains on the fourth, seventh and ninth took him into the back nine two ahead.

However, a clumsy bogey on the par-five 10th and Hovland’s birdie on the 12th meant the pair were suddenly tied and Hovland moved in front for the first time with a birdie on the 13th.

Schauffele responded superbly to pick up shots on the 11th and 12th to reclaim the lead before DeChambeau joined playing partner Hovland on Schauffele’s heels with a birdie on the 16th after his pulled drive clattered into the trees and bounced back into the fairway.

DeChambeau holed from 10 feet for birdie on the 18th to join Schauffele on 20 under  before Hovland failed to convert from the same distance and also missed the par putt.

Schauffele bravely saved par from right of the 17th green but was unfortunate to see his drive on the last stop just short of a fairway bunker, leaving him with a hugely awkward stance.

With both feet in the sand, Schauffele hit a superb shot short of the green, pitched up to six feet and held his nerve to hole the winning putt for his first major title.

It was the perfect riposte to those who viewed him as something of an underachiever, especially after being overhauled by Scottie Scheffler in the last round of the Players Championship in March and by Rory McIlroy at Quail Hollow last week

Scheffler had earlier been left to ponder what might have been after an extraordinary week.

Scheffler carded a closing 65 at Valhalla to share the early clubhouse lead on 13 under par, although his chances of claiming back-to-back major titles had effectively ended with a third round of 73.

That came the day after the Masters champion had been arrested after trying to drive into Valhalla in heavy traffic caused by an earlier, unrelated crash in which a male pedestrian died after being struck by a shuttle bus.

According to the police report, Detective Bryan Gillis stopped Scheffler’s car and “attempted to give instruction” to the player, who allegedly refused comply and “accelerated forward, dragging Detective Gillis to the ground”.Scheffler faces charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic, with an arraignment set for Tuesday.

Reports on Sunday suggested the charges will be dropped, with Scheffler’s lawyer insisting his client is prepared to go to trial if that is not the case.

“On the course I have always been proud of my toughness out there,” Scheffler told CBS.

“I try to keep the off course as quiet as possible and this week was obviously not that way, but I’m proud of the way we competed and posted a decent finish running on fumes.”

Scheffler amazingly carded a second round of 66 after being released from detention and admitted it was not until Saturday morning that “it finally hit me what really happened”.

He added: “Did I feel like myself on Saturday? Absolutely not. Was my warm-up the way it usually is and the distractions were they normally are? Absolutely not.

“But I’m not going to sit here and say that’s why I went out and played a bad round of golf. I got arrested Friday morning and I showed up here and played a good round of golf, as well.

“Just now I put my head down on the scorer’s table and I think I about fell asleep, so I’m trying to figure out how quickly I can get home from here.”

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