Top-ranked PGA players move in opposite directions: Schaeffler seethes while Rahm struggles

Jon Rahm and Scotty Schaeffler had different experiences during the opening round of the PGA Championship on Thursday in Oak Hill. Schaeffler put on a dominant performance, effortlessly posting a 3-under 67, one more pace than Bryson DeChambeau set early on. His run of form over the last 16 months shows no signs of abating. On the other hand, Rahm battled his swing and the tricky layout of the East Course to post a 6-over 76, putting him in the rare position of staring all the way up the leaderboard.

Schaeffler seems to always be there as well. He moved to the top of the world rankings with four wins in 2022. Since the beginning, building momentum has not been a problem for Schaeffler. The humble Texas native’s stretch ended with him wearing the green jacket for the first time after his clinical victory at the Masters.

Contrary to the Byron Nelson last week, which Jason Day won with a winning score of 23-under, the PGA Championship is a festival of birdies at Oak Hill, which was founded to reward those who avoid mistakes. Schaeffler played near-perfect golf for over five hours with little success. He had ten one-putts, and effectively scrambled off the green.

Rahm’s day didn’t go as well. His 76 tied for highest in PGA history and lowest in a major opener since 78 at the 2018 U.S. Open. Rahm’s driver betrayed him, and he couldn’t make up for it with a putter. Nonetheless, Rahm remained optimistic that things would get better over the next three days. If he wants a chance of chasing down Schaeffler and the other leaders, he may need to come close to playing perfectly on Friday.

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