Thursday, 13 Jun, 2024

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Schauffele wins first major at US PGA Championship

Sports Desk | banglanews24.com
Update: 2024-05-20 10:23:22
Schauffele wins first major at US PGA Championship photo collected

Xander Schauffele holed a nervy six-foot birdie putt at the 18th to win his first major with a record score on a gripping final day at the US PGA Championship.

The American held off the charging Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland to triumph on 21 under at Valhalla, Kentucky.

Having led the tournament since equalling the best round at a major when he shot 62 in round one, the 30-year-old Californian finished with a six-under 65 to claim the Wanamaker Trophy by one shot.

"I was emotional after the [winning] putt lipped in," said Schauffele. "It’s been a while since I’ve won – I really did not want to go into a play-off with Bryson.

"My dad is in Hawaii and I managed to call him but I had to hang up quickly because he was making me cry."

Six birdies in eight holes around the turn briefly put Norwegian Hovland into the lead but world number three Schauffele responded with magnificent birdies on the 11th and 12th to wrestle it back.

DeChambeau profited with a birdie after his wild drive on 16 hit a tree and bounced back into the fairway, and he also birdied the last to card a 64 and draw level with Schauffele, sparking raucous celebrations on the 18th green.

Hovland then had a putt to also get to 20 under, but crumbled under the pressure, taking three shots from 10 feet as he finished on 18 under.

However, Olympic champion Schauffele, who has faced criticism for not closing out tournaments when well placed, stood up to the onslaught, rolling in a birdie of his own to secure the title.

England’s Justin Rose led the British challenge, finishing in a tie for sixth at 14 under par and with that becoming only the second player aged over 40, after the legendary Sam Snead, to make five consecutive top-15 finishes at this tournament.

Playing alongside Rose, Scotland's Robert MacIntyre failed to fire, although he closed with a superb eagle to post a 70 and 13 under total to cap a great week.

Shane Lowry of Ireland, who spectacularly equalled Schauffele’s 62 on Saturday - becoming the fourth player to do so - went cold with his putter as he also carded a 70.

Two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, who led jointly with Schauffele after round three, opened with 14 straight pars before bogeying the 15th. His solitary birdie came at the last in an otherwise disappointing round as he finished five off the pace.

The world’s top two players Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy rounded off disappointing weekends at eight and nine shots back respectively.

Xander Schauffele ranked second in approach to the green and third off the tee for strokes gained this week

Schauffele has 12 top-10 finishes at major tournaments and is consistently among the top players in the world but had not won an event since the Scottish Open in 2022.

Indeed, the way he stumbled in the face of a charging McIlroy at Quail Hollow a week ago raised significant questions about his ability to close out victories.

At Valhalla, having held the lead from the outset, further questions were asked as the chasing pack closed in, especially on Sunday through DeChambeau and Hovland, playing two groups in front of him.

However, this sensational round of golf should end any lingering doubts over his temperament. The relief and jubilation was evident as he flung his arms skywards and took the acclaim of the crowd after sinking the winning putt.

He holed crucial putts at critical times, including for par at the sixth, after a fist-pumping DeChambeau had holed out from 37 feet at the same hole.

There were birdies at the seventh and ninth before, after a mistake at the 10th led to a double bogey and opened the door for a surging Hovland to steal in front, he produced a magical tee shot on 11. He then holed another birdie at the 12th to inch back ahead.

The drama continued up ahead.

DeChambeau sent the crowd wild with his birdie at the last, the ball falling into the cup with its final revolution, pumping his fist and celebrating emphatically as he drew level with Schauffele.

Schauffele scrambled a par from a fairway bunker on the 17th, while his tee shot on the 18th squirmed into the rough and he had to hit his ball while standing in more sand.

As he did throughout the tournament though, Schauffele remained calm, punching his ball safely forwards and then chipping his next to six feet before holing out to silence the critics.

Only four players have led or jointly led in every round when winning their first major, with Schauffele joining an elite group that includes McIlroy (2011) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

Source: BBC

BDST: 1022 HRS, MAY 20, 2024
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