For the Second Time, Xander Schauffele Ties the Major Record with a 62-Yard Shot

The world’s third-ranked player tied the record for the lowest round at a major championship for the second time in less than a year, shooting a 62 on the first round of the PGA Championship.

Schauffele’s 9-under round on Thursday at the Los Angeles Country Club, which included nine birdies and no bogeys, broke the course record of 63 set by José María Olazábal in 2000 at Valhalla Country Club. The record had been tied for the PGA Championship. Schauffele’s first-round 62 at the U.S. Open was a record.

Schauffele responded, “I can’t nitpick,” when asked to draw comparisons between the two rounds. “I’ll take a 62 in any major any day.”

Schauffele led the field by three strokes after his record round. At the location of his previous major victory in 2014, Rory McIlroy fired a 66 to share the lead with seven other players at five under. Tony Finau, who has ten top-10 finishes in majors without a win, Sahith Theegala, and Mark Hubbard also carded 65s.

Collin Morikawa, the two-time major winner, shot one of the best rounds of the afternoon wave, finishing with seven birdies in his final 12 holes, finishing at 66.

Scottie Scheffler returned to the golf world three weeks after giving birth to his son, and he didn’t take long to cause his first roar by birdieing his first hole of the competition.

The next 17 holes saw Scheffler play with, at best, his B-game, making two bogeys and four birdies on route to a 67, five strokes off the lead in a big group that included the defending champion, Brooks Koepka, who finished with an eagle and a birdie.

Scheffler commented, “I felt like there was a couple things I can clean up going into tomorrow, but overall today was a solid round,” following his 41st consecutive round of par or better.

After two consecutive three-putt bogeys, Tiger Woods finished 10 shots behind Schauffele.

Beginning on hole number 10, Schauffele made birdies on five of his opening nine holes for a 31-point total before switching to the front nine and carrying on with his birdie streak. He opened a 3-stroke lead over the last eight holes with four birdies, sharing the lead after 18 holes with Bobby Nichols (1964) and Raymond Floyd (1982).

On the ninth hole, he had a birdie putt that would have tied the major record, but his 33-footer went to the right. By the time he putted for par, he was clearly in the lead, especially with Louisville native Justin Thomas beside him.

Thomas, who fired a 2-under 69, stated, “When you’re playing with one of the easiest 9 unders you’ve ever seen, it makes you feel like you’re shooting a million,” “Xander, he’s such a complete player. … He’s playing really, really great golf right now. So you feel like he’s one of those guys, every time he tees it up right now, he’s going to be in contention.”

Being from San Diego, Schauffele is used to having leads in the opening round of important competitions. Out of all the players on the field who have played in at least 25 majors, he has the lowest lifetime first-round scoring average. But wins haven’t come from it yet.

Schauffele was in the lead going into the 2017 Open Championship thanks to his opening-round 62 at the U.S. Open, which Rickie Fowler matched and tied the record set by Branden Grace at the 2017 Open Championship. Schauffele, though, began to fade over the next three days and, after a final-round 72, tied for tenth place.

Top-10 finishes and Schauffele go hand in hand. This season, he’s had eight of them, but no wins. This pattern carries across to important titles. Schauffele (12), who has placed inside the top 10 at three of the last five majors, is the only member of this year’s competition with more career top-10 finishes at a major without a victory than Fowler (13).

When asked if this is the best golf he has ever played, Schauffele was only too happy to comply.

“I’d say it’s very close to it, if not it,” he replied. “I feel there’s spurts, moments in time where you feel like you can control the ball really well, you’re seeing the greens really well, you’re chipping really well. But over a prolonged period, it’s tough to upkeep high performance.”

Schauffele had his finest chance to win on the PGA Tour since the 2022 Scottish Open last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, when he was leading McIlroy by one stroke going into the final round. However, Schauffele earned his 14th career second-place finish after finishing at even par in the final round versus McIlroy’s 6 under.