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The race for the Wanamaker Trophy is over for another year.

Xander Schauffele leaves Valhalla as a major champion at last, ending the week as a wire-to-wire winner.

And what a week it was. It had a bit of everything, and then some.

Here’s what’s on my mind…

1. We’ve been worrying about the PGA Championship’s identity for years, completely oblivious to the fact that it has, in fact, firmly established itself as The Most Entertaining One.

2. At Quail Hollow last week, Xander Schauffele left me to draw the conclusion – not for the first time – that he closes like a revolving door. This week? Imperious. Listen, don’t underestimate how difficult it is to go wire-to-wire. But doing it when you have so much scar tissue? When you have to try to get to sleep every night, for three straight nights, holding the lead in a major? On a stage where you have never been able to prove it? That’s a huge deal and don’t be so naive as to think it’s not. Xander, we salute you. A major champion at last, and a thoroughly deserving one at that.

3. In the last 20 years, only five players have birdied the 72nd hole to win a major by one. Xander joins Phil Mickelson (2005 PGA), Jordan Spieth (2015 US Open), Jon Rahm (2021 US Open) and Cam Smith (2022 Open).

4. The last time the PGA Championship was played at Valhalla, Schauffele was playing college golf with the San Diego State University team. These guys get real good, real quick.

5. That being said, I genuinely don’t know why you would call yourself Xander when Alex, Al, Ally, Alexander and even Sandy are on the table.

6. Of all the players nabbed by LIV, Bryson DeChambeau is surely the biggest loss to the PGA Tour. Complete and utter box office. Quite telling that he also seems to be happier and more relaxed than ever.

7. Speaking of Bryson, hitting a 6-iron pin high from 248 yards is objectively hilarious. For context, the average 15-handicapper hits their 6-iron 133 yards, according to Shot Scope. Take out their duffs, thins, sclaffs etc, focusing only on the times they ‘middle’ it, and that number is still only 162 yards. Same game, played very differently.

8. Viktor Hovland will win multiple majors (but most likely on the condition he never splits with Joe Mayo again).

9. Ahead of the Ryder Cup last year, I likened Justin Rose to a Fry’s Chocolate Cream and I absolutely stand by it. Been around for ages but keeps getting better and better. Super consistent. Never disappoints. He might, might, just have another major W in him, you know.

10. Per the doyen of golf stats, the excellent Justin Ray, the field was a combined 214-under-par this week. That’s a PGA Championship record by an incredible 254 shots!

11. What’s that? You didn’t like how much of a birdie-fest Valhalla was? Get back to me in a few weeks’ time when it’s all bogeys and doubles at the US Open and iT’s AlL a BiT rIdIcUlOuS.

12. Getting arrested mid-major is a pretty extreme way to prove you’re not as boring as some people say, Scottie.

13. So many questions about that incident on Friday but I only really have two: did he get a phone call? And if so, who did he ring?

14. Not FedExing an orange polo and matching trousers for Scheffler to wear on Sunday is an uncharacteristic miss by Nike.

15. Seriously, though, if you don’t think it’s possible to feel desperately sad at the passing of somebody you’ve never met in truly tragic circumstances whilst, at the same time, be able to make light of the absurdity of the world’s No.1 golfer being cuffed and made to wear orange prison togs, then bless your righteous heart.

16. Not entirely unrelated, this post from Sergio Garcia amid the Scheffler melee was quite something. “It is sad,” wrote the Spaniard, “that the initial and primary focus from the media today is on an athletes [sic] situation instead of an innocent life lost at this event.” Morality lessons, Sergio? From you?

17. A grand total of 37 major championships have come and gone since Rory McIlroy won the most recent of his four. In that time, there have been 25 different major champs, 22 of them winning for the first time. Brooks Koepka has bagged five since McIlroy won his fourth. Jordan Spieth has won three. Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler have each won two. It’s true that majors are hard to win but, in what should have been the most fertile decade of his career, McIlroy has made it look way harder than it should be for somebody of his undoubted gift.

18. Bob Mac did Scotland proud. What a thrill to wake up on a major Sunday and have one of your compatriots in the mix. This is what it must feel like to be Northern Irish.

19. It’ll be a sad day when master of the mic Ewen Murray finally calls it quits. One of the finest – and dare I say it, most underrated – commentators of his generation.

20. Also, social media users not knowing the difference between Ewen Murray of Sky and Ewan Murray of The Guardian remains a niche modern delight.

21. Paul McGinley gets a ton of grief online, and I genuinely don’t understand it. The former Ryder Cup captain is a terrific analyst. I get more out of listening to him talk for ten seconds than I get from listening to most others talking for ten minutes. But each to their own.

22. Only two of the 20 PGA club professionals who qualified for the championship made the cut, reinforcing my conviction that this exemption needs some tweaking. Finishing 20th in one event should not be rewarded with a place in a major championship. A better solution? Take only the top-10 and give the other ten spots to the winners of various PGA Professional Championships around the world (the UK, Australia, South Africa, Japan etc).

23. Jordan Spieth played far better than most anticipated but, truthfully, I still can’t see him ever completing the slam. I do honestly worry that we’ve seen the best of him.

24. See also: Johnson, Dustin. DJ turns 40 next month and it’s hard to shake the feeling he’s going to end his career with only two majors. He’s basically this generation’s Greg Norman.

25. He neither won nor contended but Talor Gooch emerges from Valhalla with great credit. There was a lot of pressure on the American to justify the invitation extended to him by the PGA of America and, when he was three-over through 12 in round one, asterisk-based snark was being composed at warp speed. However, he rallied to make the cut and ultimately finished just inside the top-60. Fair play.

26. Tiger Woods hasn’t registered a single top-20 in the majors since his Masters win in 2019 – the longest streak of his career. In that time, he has missed as many cuts as he has made (five). He has routinely insisted he will carry on playing until he thinks he cannot win anymore. How much more convincing does he need?

27. None of which is to suggest I want Tiger to retire. That will be a sad, sad day But seeing him labour and toil in events he used to dominate is arguably even sadder.

28. This was the first major championship since the 1998 PGA Championship – a streak of 97 consecutive events – in which no players representing Spain made the cut. Ay caramba!

29. Until he withdrew ahead of round two with a thumb injury, John Daly was on course for his 15th major missed cut in a row. He hasn’t featured at the weekend of one of the game’s marquee events since the 2012 PGA and, in the subsequent 29 rounds, has broken par only twice. His stroke average in that time? A thoroughly uncompetitive 75.7. With sincere thanks for the many great memories, it might be time to park the buggy once and for all.

30. Extortionate F&B is hardly unique to the PGA Championship, but $14 for a Michelob Ultra? $15 for a cheeseburger? Good grief.

31. That said, if expensive beer reduces the number of inanities screamed by bevvied-up fans, then, by all means, hike the prices some more.

32. The PGA’s virtual media hub is an unbelievably good resource, particularly for those of us covering the event remotely. But it sends you an email notification every time a new piece of info gets uploaded and, honestly, I end the week feeling like Richard Gadd.

33. Was Rickie Fowler playing?!

34. The men’s major season is too short.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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