PGA Championship Round 1 Winners and Losers as Xander Schauffele dominates


Xander Schauffele set multiple records during the first round of the PGA Championship, as he holds a commanding three-shot lead over Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala through 18 holes.

A group of six players, including Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Tom Kim, and Robert MacIntyre, lurks four shots behind Schauffele.

But plenty of other significant storylines developed at Valhalla on Day One, so let’s explore the winners and losers from Thursday in the Bluegrass State.

Winners:

Xander Schauffele

Schauffele not only set a new Valhalla course record, but he shot the lowest score in PGA Championship history with a 9-under 62. He made nine birdies and nine pars, a clean scorecard that soared him to the top of the leaderboard.

Xander Schauffele, PGA Championship

Xander Schauffele on the 7th green during the first round.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

He has been in this position plenty of times before, though. Schauffele owns the lowest all-time first-round scoring average in majors at 69.81 for those players who have appeared in 25 of them, per Elias Sports Bureau. Brooks Koepka ranks second with a mark of 70.74.

Now, the question revolves around Schauffele sealing the deal. He has 12 top-10 finishes in majors but no titles to show. A win this week would change his career, give him an extra dose of confidence, and remove him from atop the list of ‘Best current player never to win a major.’

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has plenty of drama in his personal life at the moment, including his pending divorce and discussions surrounding the PGA Tour Policy Board.

Regardless, one has to feel for the Northern Irishman, who is experiencing a whirlwind outside of the ropes.

But inside the ropes, McIlroy looks as good as ever. He scrapped his way around Valhalla to card a 5-under 66 on Thursday, which included six birdies and one bogey.

Rory McIlroy, PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy reacts after making a birdie on the 13th hole during round one of the 2024 PGA Championship.
Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour via Getty Images

Known for his driving prowess, McIlroy did not have his best stuff off the tee on Thursday—even finding the water with his driver on 18. He managed to save par there, giving him a much-needed momentum boost going to his second nine.

He took advantage of that and now has a solid chance to capture his first major championship in a decade.

ESPN Coverage

ESPN began live coverage of the PGA Championship at 7 a.m. ET on Thursday morning on its streaming platform, ESPN Plus. Television coverage began at Noon ET, and the network concluded its broadcast at 8 p.m., thus ending a marathon day to the delight of golf fans everywhere.

The ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports’ has done a phenomenal job covering the second major of the year, showing plenty of golf shots across multiple feeds. Commercials did not boggle down the broadcast either. Even the No Laying Up crew had a two-hour show on ESPN2 from 1 to 3 p.m. ET, which was a delight.

Scottie Scheffler as a Dad

Many golfers in the field this week joked about Scheffler needing more sleep after he and his wife welcomed a son into the world last week.

Needless to say, Scheffler did not get off to a sleepy start.

He one-hopped his approach shot into the first hole, making an eagle two to begin his first major championship as a father.

Surely, his 8-day-old son, Bennett, was impressed.

Scheffler finished the day with a 4-under 67 as he eyes his second straight major title.

Brooks Koepka’s Patience

‘Big, Bad, Brooks’ carded a 4-under 67 on Thursday, forcing patience upon himself to trickle up the leaderboard at the end of his round.

He made only three birdies to one bogey, but an eagle on the par-5 7th—his 16th hole of the day—significantly improved his standing. He then made one of those three birdies on the very next hole, the par-3 8th.

Interestingly, Koepka, the defending champion, opened with a 2-over 72 at Oak Hill a year ago. Will his five-shot improvement in round one this time serve as a harbinger of things to come?

Losers:

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson, a two-time winner of this event, began the day with a bogey at the par-4 1st and a double-bogey at the par-4 2nd. He ended the day with another double, as he splashed his drive into the water to the right of the 18th fairway.

Phil Mickelson, PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson at the 18th hole during Thursday’s first round.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

He shot a 3-over 74, which is not a bad score considering it included two double bogies, but Mickelson has plenty of work to do if he wants to make the cut.

It will likely take a round in the mid-60s.

Michael Block

The Block Party ended on the 2nd green at Valhalla early Thursday morning.

Block, who played in the first group of the day, crisscrossed the 2nd green multiple times, hitting more than a few chips across the putting surface. He finally made a quadruple-bogey eight, sending him down the leaderboard and into the abyss.

He will likely miss the cut after carding a 5-over 76, but Block played his final 16 holes in even par.

Valhalla Golf Club

This Jack Nicklaus-design layout yielded plenty of birdies, mainly due to the soft conditions.

But that does not discount the fact that Valhalla is too easy for the best players in the world. The winning score will likely hover around 20-under-par, proving how benign this course is. With three par-5s and plenty of gettable par-4s, this layout pales in comparison to what the players saw at challenging Oak Hill one year ago.

Expect to see a birdie barrage over the next few days, which, in my opinion, diminishes the mystique of a major. The first round ended with 65 players under par, the most in PGA Championship history.

It’s not like this is a new development, either. Rory McIlroy won the 2014 edition at 16-under, while Tiger Woods and Bob May finished at 18-under in 2000.

Surely, this tournament will end the streak of three consecutive PGA Championship winners finishing at single digits under par.

Plus, limestone waterfalls are for resorts, not for major championships.

Brian Harman’s Pace of Play

Brian Harman’s slow pace of play has been well-documented before. He tends to waggle his club face endlessly before hitting a shot, drawing the ire of golf fans everywhere.

But ESPN decided to have a little fun at Harman’s expense on Thursday.

After Harman addressed a putt, he walked away from it to get a second look. But instead of staying on the shot, the ESPN producer decided to pan to a turtle sitting beside one of Valhalla’s numerous water hazards.

Perhaps this move should fall under the ‘Winners’ category above, where ESPN’s coverage has claimed a spot. But nobody likes slow play. Everyone loathes it. So, to Harman and golfers everywhere, please pick up the pace because nobody wants to play behind a turtle.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.





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