100th PGA: Jack Nicklaus' 1980 win vs Byron Nelson's 1940 win

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100th PGA: Jack Nicklaus' 1980 win vs Byron Nelson's 1940 win

In celebration of the 100th PGA Championship that takes place this year at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, we’ve unveiled the PGA 100 – a bracket-style competition to determine which year’s championship was the greatest in PGA Championship history. Over the course of six weeks, you can help us identify the greatest championship in the tournament’s history by voting once a day as the field is narrowed from 16 championships on July 8 to the single greatest championship on August 12.

You can vote and join the conversation here. In this matchup, the No. 5-seeded 1980 PGA Championship faces the No.-12 seeded 1940 PGA Championship.

No. 5 seed: 1980 PGA Championship

The 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., was a dominating performance by the game’s most decorated major champion, one Mr. Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus, 40 years old at the time, took the lead through 54 holes, three strokes clear of Lon Hinkle at 5-under par.

And when the dust settled on Sunday, Nicklaus routed the competition. He was the only player to finish the tournament with an under-par score – 6 under – and was seven strokes better than runner-up Andy Bean (1 over), a record margin of victory at the PGA until Rory McIlroy won by eight strokes in 2012 at Kiawah Island. 

This win was of particular significance for Nicklaus for a few reasons. For starters, it was his second major win in two months, having already won the U.S. Open. The previous season had been the worst of Nicklaus’ career. In 1979, he had no Tour wins for the first time in his career.

The victory at Oak Hill also marked his fifth in a PGA Championship, tying Nicklaus with Walter Hagen for the most all time. 

Jack’s next and final major came six years later at the Masters. 

No. 12 seed: 1940 PGA Championship

At Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Penn., Byron would win the first of his two career PGA Championships in 1940.

Until 1958, the PGA Championship was a grueling match-play championship. Nelson came out on top when he defeated Sam Snead in the final, 1 up.

It was the third of Nelson's five major titles; he won the PGA Championship again in 1945. From 1939 to 1945, Nelson made five of the six finals, missing only in 1942. The championship was not held in 1943.

That week at Hershey marked the third of three victories for Nelson in 1940.