Looking ahead to the second round of the 2024 PGA Championship

Scottie Scheffler holes out for eagle to start his day (0:42)

Scottie Scheffler gets a huge ovation after holing out for eagle to start his PGA Championship round. (0:42)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The opening round of the 2024 PGA Championship featured a broken course record, ideal weather conditions (for now), a few struggling major winners and 64 players under par.

There's a lot of golf left before another major winner is crowned, but after just 18 holes there are plenty of storylines heading into Day 2. Here are seven things we're keeping an eye on.

Can Xander Schauffele hold on?

Wire-to-wire winners are increasingly rare in golf these days, let alone at a major championship. That does not bode well for Schauffele who, despite shooting the lowest round in major history on Thursday yet again, has made a name for himself as a player who consistently puts himself in position to win, but can't seem to close on major Sundays.

Schauffele now has a cumulative score of 40-under in opening rounds of major championships, which is both impressive and equally telling of how many opportunities he's squandered.

As if Schauffele's chances this week needed any more skepticism -- since 2000, of the four players that have had a multishot lead after the 1st round of the PGA Championship, none finished in the top 10, and the last 8 players with a multishot lead after the opening round also failed to win.

Now for the opposing view: Outside of Rory McIlroy or Scottie Scheffler, no one is playing better golf right now than Schauffele, who has had eight top-10 finishes already this season. He has added length off the tee, is hitting his irons as accurately as anyone and, as evidenced by his performance on Thursday, seems to have figured something out with his putter, too.

"I feel there's spurts, moments in time where you feel like you can control the ball really well; you're seeing the greens really well; you're chipping really well," Schauffele said of the state of his game. "But over a prolonged period, it's tough to upkeep high performance."

Forget a prolonged period -- how about three more days? Schauffele is on top right now, but the crop of players chasing him is about as good as it gets.

McIlroy is four shots back after playing a self-described "scrappy" round of golf where he put two balls in the water and still shot 66. Defending champion Brooks Koepka is also looming after a first-round 67, while Scottie Scheffler showed up from a three-week hiatus and holed out for eagle on the first hole en route to a 4-under 67.

The 21 players within six shots of Schauffele have a combined 17 major championships between them. Schauffele, of course, has zero. Very few things in his track record suggest he will be able to hold on. This week, however, is as good a time as any for him to turn that narrative around.

Is Viktor Hovland back?

At the end of 2023, the golf world had no choice but to consider Hovland one of the best players in the world. He had won just four times in one season, including back-to-back wins at the BMW Championship and the Tour championship, and appeared primed for a big year in the majors in 2024.

Instead, Hovland stopped working with Joe Mayo, the swing coach that had helped him sharpen his short game and improve his swing, and tried to change his swing once again. The results suffered.

Instead of a breakout 2024, Hovland missed the cut at the Masters and has only one top-20 finish this season. He's spent more time on the range trying to figure stuff out than getting airtime for being in contention.

This week at Valhalla, Hovland was once again spending ample time on the range on Wednesday, but as he confirmed on Thursday after an opening round, 3-under 68, he is back working with Mayo and was recently with him in Las Vegas to get his swing back into shape.

"Just reached out and was wondering if he could take a look at my golf swing, and let's get back to work," Hovland said Thursday. "He knows my swing really well. He's really, really smart, and just has a way of looking at my swing and kind of knowing what it is right away. Felt like I got some really good answers, was able to apply some of the feels right away, and I saw improvement right away."

It's only one round, but Hovland looked much improved on Thursday, gaining over three strokes on the field and driving the ball far better than he has this season as well as saving some shots with his short game. He credited Mayo for giving him an exaggerated swing feel that he practiced in the lead-up to the tournament in order to improve his driving. Overall, Hovland said, he is trying to simplify things.

"If you're hitting it poorly, you're not just going to figure it out by doing the same stuff. You have to change some stuff," Hovland said. "I was trying to get back to what is the most natural for me to do instead of going down these other rabbit holes."

Hovland may not win this week, but if he can continue this level of play, it may bode well for the rest of his major season and we might get the breakout year we all foresaw, after all.

Theegala's bad luck

Sahith Theegala might not be the biggest name on the leaderboard, but the reigning Fortinet Championship winner is one of the fastest rising stars on the PGA Tour.

Theegala had a bogey-free, 4-under 31 on the front nine en route to a 6-under 65 on Thursday.

Theegala wasn't even sure he'd be able to play the past two weeks. He slipped a rib while getting into a golf cart, but was able to recover in time to play in last week's Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, tying for 52nd.

"I immediately called my chiro and got three really painful adjustments to get it back in place and couldn't really breathe or move all Saturday and Sunday," Theegala said. "But I traveled Monday, knowing that I've done it before, and it's healed in a week or two. So I figured with some aggressive rehab, it was going to heal quickly."

It wasn't the first time he'd injured the rib.

"Knock-on-wood, I've never had low-back issues," Theegala said. "I've never really had back issues to begin with, really. It's just kind of a freak thing. And now that it's happened twice in the past couple years, I just need to focus on [strengthening] the back muscles a little bit so that sucker doesn't pop out again."

Here comes the rain

Valhalla Golf Club was already soft from rain earlier this week, which led to Thursday's low scoring, and there's a good chance of more precipitation coming, according to the Weather Channel.

Forecasts call for a 60% chance of rain Friday with the possibility of thunderstorms. There's a 46% chance of rain Saturday, followed by mostly sunny conditions with high temperatures around 88 degrees for Sunday.

"The fairways are nice and it's in great condition, but the greens are really holding," said European Ryder Cup team captain Luke Donald, who posted a 1-under 70. "Even me hitting some longer irons -- 4-, 5-, 3-irons -- into greens, they're holding.

"The pins are tucked away on some of the holes, but you can still access them. Xander is probably hitting less clubs into the holes than I am. But when the ball hits on the green and just stops there and you can control that, then you can make some birdies. There's not a lot of wind. It's really nice conditions. I'm not surprised to see someone going pretty low."

Three years ago, Valhalla replaced its bentgrass fairways with zoysia grass, which was supposed to be firmer and faster. That might not be the case this week, however.

"The greens could get a little bit firmer, so that could make it a little more tricky," McIlroy said. "But even if the fairways dry out, [with] the zoysia, the ball doesn't really go anywhere when it lands. I could see it getting a touch firmer, but I still think it's going to be pretty low scoring."

Golfers with work to do

There were 64 golfers who had scores under par on Thursday, which is the most for an opening round in PGA Championship history. The previous highest total was 60 at Medinah Country Club in Illinois in 2006, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The top 70 scores and ties will make the 36-hole cut. There were 84 players at even or better after 18 holes.

There are some big names who have work to do Friday to make it to the weekend, including Ludvig Åberg (1 over), Adam Scott (1 over), Tiger Woods (1 over), Tommy Fleetwood (1 over), Rickie Fowler (1 over), Brian Harman (1 over), Sam Burns (1 over), Dustin Johnson (2 over), Joaquín Niemann (2 over) and Phil Mickelson (3 over), who made a mess of the 18th hole for a double-bogey.

"Well, you can't win a tournament unless you make the cut," said Woods, who won his second of four PGA Championships at Valhalla in 2000. "That's the whole idea is [to] get to the weekend so that you can participate and have a chance to win. I've been on the cut number and have won tournaments, or I've been ahead and leading tournaments and I've won tournaments. But you have to get to the weekend in order to win a golf tournament."

The state of Jon Rahm's game, plus other LIV musings

Rahm had an eventful opening round Thursday as he shot even par but began the day with four bogeys in his first six holes. The Spaniard, who has played about half as many competitive rounds this year on the LIV Golf tour as he did last season on the PGA Tour, was grinding and showed his emotions after bad shots several times.

It was a round that included both laughs and club throws. In other words, a quintessential Rahm round.

It's fair to wonder how much playing on LIV, and playing less golf, has affected Rahm's performances so far. At Augusta, his title defense never truly had a chance as he finished in a tie for 45th. Rahm is currently tied for 44th at Valhalla and eight shot back of Schauffele. Whether we get the front-nine (4-over) version of Rahm or the back nine (4-under) version of him on Friday will determine whether he can stick around for the weekend.

Other LIV golfers to watch heading into Friday include Brooks Koepka, who began his PGA title defense with a quiet but effective 4-under 67 -- the best score of any LIV player in the field.

Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Martin Kaymer (yes, that Martin Kaymer) showed their major championship bona fides with rounds of 68 that put them six back of Schauffele.

Meanwhile, the much-talked about Talor Gooch looked well on his way to a potential missed cut after being 3-over through 14 holes before going 3-under in his last four to get back to even par. We wouldn't want to have to put an asterisk on the final two rounds should he not be able to play them.

No Block party this time

Unless California club pro Michael Block puts up a great score on Friday, he won't be making the cut this year. Block was the darling of the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, tying for 15th and making a final-round ace on the par-3 15th hole.

On Thursday, Block had a nightmare start, carding a bogey on No. 1 and a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 2. He was 5 over after 2 holes.

Give Block credit for hanging in there and playing even par the rest of the way to post a 5-over 76. He was attempting to become the first PGA Club pro to make the cut in back-to-back PGA Championships since Tom Wargo in 1992-93.

The low club pro on Thursday was Jeremy Wells, who posted a 2-under 69. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Wells is just the second club pro in the past 20 years to break 70 in the first round of the PGA Championship. Bob Sowards posted a 69 at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011.

Last year, the club pro at Cypress Lake Golf Club in Fort Myers, Florida, thought he overdid it by playing four practice rounds at Oak Hill. He missed the cut with a 74-78.

On Wednesday, he made his way into a practice round with Scheffler and Max Homa, which was beneficial.

"I'm on the first tee today, got like 12 people watching and I know them all, right?" Wells said. "Yesterday, it was the real deal. To have that experience yesterday, to be so heightened and so nervous in a practice round, and I hit it fine. I survived. And that made today feel a little bit [better]."