By Bruce Berlet

HARTFORD, Conn. – Travelers Championship officials had to be delighted with the outcome of the PGA Championship on Sunday.

For the second major championship of the year, the winner is already committed to Connecticut’s biggest sporting event June 20-23 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

Xander Schauffele celebrates after winning on the 18th green during the final round of the
2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Xander Schauffele, a frequent challenger but never a winner of one of golf’s most desired trophies, lipped in a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to close with a 6-under-par 65 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Schauffele, the 2022 Travelers Championship winner, finished with a 72-hole total of 21-under 263, one better than Bryson DeChambeau and the most under par in major championship history.

“I was actually kind of emotional after the (last) putt lipped in,” said Schauffele, the 2021 Olympic champion whose previous victory came at the Scottish Open in July 2022. “It’s been a while since I’ve won. I kept saying it all week, I just need to stay in my lane. Man, was it hard to stay in my lane today, but I tried all day to just keep focus on what I’m trying to do and keep every hole ahead of me. Had some weird kind of breaks coming into the house, but it’s all good now.”

Schauffele’s worst break came on the final hole when his 315-yard drive stopped just short of a fairway bunker. He was left with an awkward stance, having to stand in the sand to hit his second shot. He managed to hook a 3-iron to the left of the green, ran a chip to 6 feet and made the decisive putt to end his years of disappointment and agony in golf’s biggest events.

“I really didn’t want to go into a playoff against Bryson,” said Schauffele, who threw his arms in the air after his final stroke disappeared. said. “I’m assuming we probably would have played 18. It would have been a lot of work. I just told myself, this is my opportunity and just capture it. … I climbed the (major) mountain for the first time and hopefully I can do many more times.”

Schauffele, who led or shared the lead from start to finish after a record-tying 62 in the first round, became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol GC in New Jersey to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the last hole to win by one shot. And this took all he had as DeChambeau was on the range, staying loose for a potential three-hole playoff, watching Schauffele from a large video board. He walked all the way back to the 18th to join in with so many other players wanting to congratulate the 30-year-old Californian.

Schauffele, who finished second to Rory McIlroy in the Wells Fargo Championship the previous Sunday, moved to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings behind Scottie Scheffler, who overcame an arrest on Friday morning to shoot 65 and tie for eighth at 271. Scheffler, the Masters champion who became a father for the first time on May 8, has also already committed to the Travelers Championship, along with McIlroy, who shot 67 to tie for 12th at 272.

DeChambeau closed with a bogey-free 64, which included a hooked drive on the 16th hole that was headed well into the trees but ricocheted into the fairway. He then hit an 8-iron to 3 feet to set up his sixth birdie of the day and then made a 10-foot for a closing birdie at No. 18.

“I want to congratulate Xander for winning a major because he’s been a really good player for a long time,” said DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion who won eight times on the PGA Tour before leaving for LIV Golf. “I’m disappointed but also proud of the way I played without having my best game.”

Viktor Holvand, the reigning FedEx Cup champion who had struggled with his swing this season until this week, also had a chance to tie for second by sinking a 10-footer at the 18th hole. But he missed the birdie try and a 3-footer coming back for his first bogey in 41 holes. He closed with 66 to finish third at 266 and has also committed to the Travelers Championship.

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