Xander Schauffele finally got his major and shook off a reputation as a player unable to close when he rattled in a six-foot birdie putt just inside the left edge on the 72nd hole at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville to win the PGA Championship by a stroke over Bryson DeChambeau.

Schauffele, who came into Sunday’s final round just two-for-eight in converting a 54-hole lead into a victory on the PGA Tour, outdueled DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open winner, and Viktor Hovland to win his eighth tour title and add the Wanamaker Trophy to his other shiny tournament prize, the 2020 Olympic Gold Medal. The 30-year-old California native closed with six-under 65 and set the all-time major scoring record in relation to par with a 21-under 263 aggregate total. He also became just the third player to win the PGA with a birdie on the 72nd hole, joining Payne Stewart in 1989 and Phil Mickelson in 2005.

“I was kind of emotional after the putt lipped in. It’s been a while since I’ve won,” said Schauffele, whose last victory came at the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open. “I kept saying all week I need to stay in my lane, and man was it hard to stay in my lane today. But I tried. I tried to just stay focused. I had some weird breaks coming into the house, but it’s all good now.”

DeChambeau, 30, who had won eight times on the PGA Tour before leaving for the LIV Golf League in 2022, shot a bogey-free 64 for his second-straight top-10 in a major and his third in his last six major starts. The California native finished T-4 in last year’s PGA at Oak Hill.

Schauffele’s win, which came with a $3.33 million payday, ended years of frustration in the majors. He had posted top-10 finishes 12 times in his 27 career major starts without a win, joining the likes of Ben Hogan, who broke through after being similarly stymied. Schauffele triumphed wire to wire just one week after watching Rory McIlroy rally past him at the Wells Fargo Championship to deny him a wire-to-wire win in the signature event.

Beginning the day tied atop the leaderboard with 2020 PGA champion Collin Morikawa, Schauffele immediately got his nose out front alone when he buried a 27-foot birdie putt on the first hole. He added three more birdies to go out in four-under 31 and keep DeChambeau and Hovland at bay—at least for a while.

But then he suffered a hiccup, something of a familiar occurrence for Schauffele when leading. Ahead by two and looking to extend his lead at the par-5 10th hole, Schauffele instead bogeyed when he needed three to get down from the back fringe. His par attempt from five feet barely grazed the left edge.

Meanwhile, Hovland sank an eight-footer for birdie at the difficult 12th, and the two were deadlocked at 18 under par. Hovland converted his sixth birdie of the day at the short 13th, drilling a 15-footer and leaving Schauffele trailing for the first time. However, Schauffele showed his mettle, bouncing back minutes later with an eight-foot birdie at the par-3 11th and topping Hovland’s birdie at 12 with one of his own from practically the same spot to regain the lead at 20 under.

All the while, DeChambeau kept lurking, staying in touch with his playing partner, Hovland, and Schauffele with his own birdie-filled round that included a number of crucial sand saves. Then he caught a break at 16 when he hooked a drive that appeared to be going deep into the trees only to ricochet into the fairway. From 219 yards, he ripped a 7-iron and then exhorted the shot to get close. It did, stopped three feet from the cup. That birdie got him to 19 under.

When he sank an 11-footer for birdie at the par-5 18th to tie Schauffele at 20 under, the ball trickling over the edge, DeChambeau raised his arms, almost more in relief than celebration, and then pumped a fist. Then he added another fist pump while acknowledging the gallery.

Needing to answer from 10 feet on the opposite side of the hole, Hovland saw his hard-breaking right-to-left putt snap low. He didn’t make a birdie over his last five holes, though he hit every green in regulation. Deflated, the Norwegian then lipped out the comebacker for his only bogey of the weekend. He settled for third place at 18-under 266 after a third-straight 66.

Morikawa never got untracked with a putter that had carried him for three rounds. He closed with 71 with a lone birdie at the last and ended up T-4 at 15-under 269.

Main Image: Michael Reaves