2004: Strait into History

Champion: Vijay Singh
Site: Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisc.
Date: Aug. 12-15
Par: 36-36--72 (7,514 yards)
Field: 156 cut at 146 (73 players advanced):

HAVEN, Wis. (PGA.com) -- Vijay Singh waited until the perfect time to make his first birdie of the day Sunday at the 86th PGA Championship.

Saddled with a balky putter and not as crisp as he had been during the first three rounds, Singh capitalized on a late collapse by Justin Leonard to get into a three-way playoff at Whistling Straits, then made the only birdie over the three extra holes to win the final major of the year.

Despite closing with a 4-over 76 -- the highest winning score ever by a PGA champion -- and taking 34 putts in regulation, Singh nearly drove the green on the first of three playoff holes and made a 6-foot putt.

Leonard and Chris DiMarco never had a good look at birdie in the playoff, and they stood helplessly on the 18th green as Singh tapped in from 2 feet for par on the 18th for his third career major.

"It was sad to see someone win it the way I did," Singh said. "The putter kind of fell asleep on me a little bit. I got new life when he missed the putt on the last hole."

DiMarco had an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th in regulation that he left short. He closed with a 71, the only player in the final nine groups to break par as Whistling Straits finally lived up to its fearsome reputation.

The consolation for DiMarco was a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, moving to No. 8 in the standings.

Singh, Leonard and DiMarco finished at 8-under 280. Ernie Els and Chris Riley each bogeyed the last hole to finish one shot behind, although Riley made his first Ryder Cup team, bumping Steve Flesch (76) and Jay Haas (77) out of the top 10.

Leonard, enduring his worst season in 10 years on tour, had several chances to change the outcome.

His best shot of the round was a 3-iron from 198 yards into a stiff breeze on the 518-yard 15th to within 10 feet. A birdie would have given him a three-shot lead with three holes to play, but he lipped out. Leonard then missed a 5-foot par putt on the 16th that narrowed his lead to one.

From the middle of the 18th fairway, a slight breeze at his back, he hit 5-iron into the thick grass surrounding a sunken bunker short of the green, Leonard chipped out to 12 feet and had that putt to win his second major. It again caught the lip, giving Singh and DiMarco new life.

"It's hard to win a tournament, much less a major, when you do that," Leonard said.

Nothing was easy on Sunday, when Whistling Straits beat up the best players with a combination of stiff wind and no water on the course overnight, which made it firm and hard. Plus, the longest course in major championship history was stretched to 7,536 yards by moving most pins to the back of the greens.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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