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Schauffele Wins the PGA Championship

by | May 21, 2024

DeChambeau holes out from off the green

Xander Schauffele knew that the final round of the PGA Championship would be one of the most competitive rounds of the year with a virtual hornet’s nest of top names-DeChambeau, Hovland, Morikawa, Rose, Lowry contending.   The golf course would provide no defense as Valhalla had been doused with rain showers prior to the start of the tournament.  Pin seeking would be at a premium with the soft greens readily willing and receptive.  There would be lots of birdies/eagles/hole outs as the pundits stated it would take 20 under par to win the event.  They were right as Xander squeezed a 6 footer on the birdiable 18th hole to win as the ball twisted into the break and barely survived a lip out.  Schauffele’s approach shot to the green was implausible.  He had the most difficult shot for the PGA professional in golf by having to stand in the fairway bunker with two feet and somehow advance the ball over 200 yards to the green.  PGA professionals hate this shot and amateurs can’t hardly execute them at all, even the low handicappers.  Schauffele had to get through the ball with tempo and clubhead speed to prevent the ball from squirting to the right, which took enormous skill and concentration to execute.  I would have given him a marginal chance to execute the shot and at 20 under, Schauffele had to protect himself from dropping a shot and lose the tournament.  Bryson DeChambeau was eagerly awaiting a prospective playoff on the driving range being tied with Schauffele.   The putt cinched the victory as Schauffele claimed the huge Wanamaker Trophy for his first major championship.

Valhalla was in superb tournament condition but with no wind and soft greens, it was the Garden of Eden for these PGA Profesionals.  Most of them had trouble with the 250 yard, par 3, 14th hole but the hole yardage was reduced to 220 on Sunday putting 5 irons in the hands of these guys.  Scottie Scheffler would set the pace  as he holed a 9 iron from 160 yards on the first hole for an eagle 2.  Scheffler started his third round emerging from a jail cell in Louisville after a strange altercation with the authorities during a traffic tie up as he was attempting to make his tee time.  Confusion reigned supreme as Scheffler would warm up in a holding cell before being bailed out and managed to shoot 66 to remain in contention.  Scheffler had never experienced the criminal justice system and to endure incarceration for a few hours and then shoot 6 under par against the best players in the world has to be labelled as a minor miracle.  Confusion continued and perhaps the adrenalin wore off as Scheffler struggled to a third round score of 73 without his tour caddy, who was attending his daughter’s graduation.  Scheffler closed with a 65 on Sunday to finish eighth but was too far back to be a factor.  Bryson Dechambeau flew the LIV flag proudly with outstanding driver as he averaged over 320 yards from the tee.  One shot back of Schauffele, pundits predicted that DeChambeau’s prodigious driving would present enough birdie opportunities on these soft greens to overtake the field.  He came as close as you can as his exciting eagle on the 18th at the end of round 3 put him squarely in contention.  We miss him competing on the PGA Tour as he was the only LIV player to make some noise in this event as Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka all had poor performances.  Rahm failed to make the cut leaving the former No. 1 player in the world frustrated and disappointed.   Unfortunately,  Tiger did not make the cut as he played pretty well but the rust from not competing with all of these guys seems to be telling.

The gods of golf toyed with these professionals as the putts that dropped in the early rounds of the tournament did not on Sunday.  Shane Lowery shot 62 in round 3 for a PGA Tournament record with putts dropping like slam dunks in the NBA Finals.  On Sunday, Lowery would basically make nothing.  Colin Morakawa played splendidly from tee to green all week especially on Sunday but could not sink a birdie putt on the  18th green for his only birdie of the day finishing fourth.

Schauffele had a long to overcome mentally.  He had one significant victory as the gold medalist in the Olympics but major championships had eluded him.  He was criticized for overthinking certain situations and playing too deliberately upsetting his pace of play.  There are always reasons for not winning, but Schauffele appeared to have stored this information in his experience vault and was non plussed throughout the event.  The shot on 18 was the cream on the cake as he laced the most difficult shot in professional golf at the most point of the most pressure in a major championship.





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