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LOUISVILLE:  (FILES) Scottie Scheffler of the United States reacts to the crowd on the 18th green during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 16, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky. – AFP
LOUISVILLE: (FILES) Scottie Scheffler of the United States reacts to the crowd on the 18th green during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on May 16, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky. – AFP

Lowry equals lowest round as Schauffele, Morikawa lead PGA

LOUISVILLE: Shane Lowry matched the lowest round in major golf history on Saturday, shooting a nine-under par 62 in the third round of the PGA Championship, while Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa shared the 54-hole lead at Valhalla.

The 37-year-old Irishman tied the mark achieved four prior times, most recently in Thursday’s first round by Schauffele, who closed with back-to-back birdies to shoot 68 match fellow American Collin Morikawa on 15-under 198 with Sahith Theegala third on 199. World number three Schauffele, seeking his first major title, made double bogey at 15 but recovered with tap-in birdies at 17 and 18.

“Bouncing back was big. It’s nice to have a share of the lead at least,” Schauffele said. “Need to stay in my lane, keep doing what I’m doing and hope it’s enough.” Lowry’s bogey-free round left the 2019 British Open champion, who began the day eight shots adrift, sharing fourth on 200 with American Bryson DeChambeau and Norway’s Viktor Hovland.

“I’m going to have to keep going,” Lowry said. “A lot of guys are playing great golf. The course is gettable. And like you see today somebody can come from way behind. “I’m going to go out tomorrow and see if can get that trophy.”

Other 62s have been made by Schauffele and American Rickie Fowler in the first round at last year’s US Open and the 2017 British Open by South African Branden Grace. Lowry birdied eight of the first 14 holes, sank birdie putts of 37 feet at 13 and 32 feet at the par-3 14th and one from just outside six feet at 17 to build the drama.

“I felt like I was just going to keep making birdies,” Lowry said. “I just kept rolling them in. I got off to a great start.” At 18, Lowry had a birdie putt from just inside 12 feet for 61 but missed, saying, “It has been a long time since I’ve seen this so I’m not going to complain.”

Schauffele birdied from just inside four feet at the par-5 seventh - his first birdie in 15 holes - and added others from just outside 21 feet at the par-5 10th and just inside 30 feet on the par-3 14th. Tokyo Olympic champion Schauffele has not won any event since the 2022 Scottish Open, having had 19 top-10 PGA Tour finishes in the nearly two years since.

Two-time major winner Morikawa started with a bogey but a 30-foot chip-in birdie at the third and a closing 10-foot birdie putt kept him level with Schauffele. “This week has been about taking one shot at a time, figuring out what you have and playing golf,” said Morikawa. “I’ve been doing a good job of that and I have 18 more holes to do that. Theegala birdied six of the last 10 holes, a tap-in at 18 keeping him one adrift. “I know my game is good enough to compete,” Theegala said. “I’m going to have to play my butt off.” 

A contender who faded was world number one Scottie Scheffler, who fired a two-over 73 -- his first over-par round of the year—a day after being arrested. He stood on 206, eight adrift.

Scheffler, 27, faces charges of felony assault of a police officer, criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from an officer directing traffic. “I definitely did not feel like myself but yesterday happened and I came out and did my best,” he said. Scheffler stumbled early with a double bogey at the par-5 second and bogeys at three and four. Scheffler birdied the fifth and 18th but after three other birdies he made a bogey on the next hole.

“Tough day. Got off to a tough start,” he said. “Was battling all day but seemed to follow every birdie with a bogey. Way too many mistakes. Pretty frustrated with the day.” Jordan Spieth, needing a victory to complete a career Grand Slam, birdied three of the last four holes to shoot 67 and stand on eight-under 205. Also on 205 was second-ranked Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner who filed for divorce from wife Erica on Monday. McIlroy shot 68. — AFP

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