Schauffele leads as dramatic PGA back-nine battle begins

golf19 May 2024 21:02| © AFP
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Xander Schauffele © Gallo Images

Third-ranked Xander Schauffele, chasing his first major title, clung to a two-stroke lead as his last group made the turn in Sunday's final round of the PGA Championship.

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A back-nine brawl to a dramatic finish appeared set at Valhalla as the 30-year-old reigning Olympic champion birdied two of the first four holes, sank an 11-foot birdie putt at the par-5 seventh and a 10-foot birdie putt at nine to stand on 19-under at the turn.

Fellow American Bryson DeChambeau and Norway's Viktor Hovland both birdied the par-5 10th to share second at 17-under while American Collin Morikawa, who opened with nine pars, and England's Justin Rose shared fourth on 15-under.

American Lee Hodges closed the front nine with three consecutive birdies to reach 14-under, sharing sixth with Ireland's Shane Lowry.

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler, coming off his first over-par round of the year a day after being arrested and jailed after a traffic incident at the entrance to Valhalla, fired a six-under-par 65 to finish on 13-under 271, sharing the clubhouse lead with US compatriot Billy Horschel.


Two-time Masters winner Scheffler opened with a bogey but answered with birdies at five and the par-3 eighth then birdied five of the first seven holes on the back nine.

"I was still fairly tired," said Scheffler. "Today I'm proud of how I fought. Took me a little while to get going but I had a great back nine to have a nice finish.

"Kind of running on fumes."

Schauffele, who has 12 top-10 major finishes without a victory, has not won an event since the 2022 Scottish Open, having had 19 top-10 finishes during his drought. But he matched the lowest round in major history with a nine-under 62 on Thursday.

Sahith Theegala sank a 55-foot birdie putt on the first hole to match Morikawa and Schauffele for the lead on 15-under, but Schauffele answered in the next group with a 27-foot birdie putt to seize the solo lead and Theegala faded after bogeys at the second and fifth holes.

DeChambeau dropped his approach inside four feet at the second and tapped in the birdie putt to reach 14-under.

Schauffele lipped out a birdie putt at the third from just outside six feet to stay one ahead at 16-under.

DeChambeau reached 15-under with a birdie from just outside five feet at the fifth.

Schauffele answered with a birdie putt from just inside five feet at the fifth to reach 17-under.

Again DeChambeau pulled within one, making a 37-foot birdie hole-out from off the sixth green.

But Schauffele kept the lead with a par-saving putt from outside 13 feet at the sixth.

Pulling within one at 16-under was Hovland after reeling off three birdies in a row, starting with an 18-foot putt at five and ending with a 20-foot putt at the par-5 seventh.

Hovland, last year's FedEx Cup playoff champion, is chasing his first major title

Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 British Open winner, had not won since taking the Claret Jug until last October's Zozo Championship. He shared third in April's Masters.

DeChambeau, the week's best among 16 LIV Golf players in the field, won the 2020 US Open and leads the field in driving distance.

Lowry fired a 62 to match the major low-round record on Saturday and at 37 sought his second major after the 2019 British Open.

Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, is trying to become the first British winner of the PGA since Englishman Jim Barnes took the first two in 1916 and 1919.


Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, trying to win to complete a career Grand Slam, was 3-over after 16 holes.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was on 11-under after 17 holes.

World No 2 McIlroy has not won a major since 2014 at Valhalla but has had 20 top-10 major finishes since then.

McIlroy arrived this year after winning his past two starts but news broke on Tuesday that he had filed for divorce from wife Erica after seven years of marriage.