The PGA Championship was christened at 9 a.m., October 10, 1916, at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York. Tom Kerrigan, Siwanoy’s host professional, stepped to the tee and split the fairway with his drive. Kerrigan’s opponent in the 36-hole match-play format event was Charles Adams of Santa Barbara, Calif. Even though Adams was skilled in his long game, he suffered on the greens. Kerrigan triumphed on familiar turf, winning 6 and 4. Kerrigan went on to fall to “Long Jim” Barnes, a native of Cornwall, England, and resident of Philadelphia, 3 and 1, in the quarterfinals. Barnes then met Jock Hutchison Sr., a native of St. Andrews, Scotland, in the finals. The match went the distance, coming down to a pair of five-foot putts on the par-4, 36th hole. After a measurement, it was decided Hutchison was away. He missed his putt, and Barnes coolly rapped his home for a 1-up victory, becoming the first to have his name engraved on the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy.
1920 - From Alternate to Champion
Flossmoor Country Club — Chicago, Illinois
Today’s golf fan remembers John Daly’s improbable tale of being the ninth alternate for a PGA Championship berth, and going on to victory. Daly isn’t the only late-hour addition to become PGA Champion. Jock Hutchison Sr. of Glenview, Illinois, got the honor after George Fotheringham — a PGA Charter Member and the first chair of the PGA Annual Meeting — and Arthur Clarkson were unable to attend. Hutchison, who failed initially in sectional qualifying, was a terror in the four matches he played before the finals. He defeated Eddie Loos and Laurie Ayton by identical 5 and 3 scores; Louis Tellier, 6 and 5; and downed Harry Hampton in the semifinals, 4 and 3. Hutchison then had a battle, escaping Douglas Edgar with a 1-up decision in the 36-hole finale.
1923 - Hagen vs. Sarazen — Golf’s greatest match?
Pelham Golf Club — Pelham Manor, New York
Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen — believed by many the two finest golfers of their era — squared off in the finals of the PGA Championship. The match lived up to pre-Championship hype, with Sarazen defeating Hagen in the first extra-hole finale in Championship history. The match was even after 18 holes before Sarazen grabbed a three-hole lead in the afternoon. Hagen birdied the 29th hole to trim the deficit to two holes, and won the 34th and 35th to square the match. The two players halved the 36th hole with pars. Sarazen almost succumbed on the 37th hole, driving into deep rough, just a couple of feet from the out-of-bounds barrier. With a small crowd gathered around him, Sarazen was heard telling the audience, “I’ll put this one up so close to the hole that it will break Walter’s heart.” Sarazen followed with a brilliant recovery shot, with his ball coming to rest two feet from the flagstick. Hagen dumped his approach into a greenside bunker, but almost holed his bunker approach. Sarazen closed the drama by sinking his birdie putt. Sarazen and Hagen landed in the PGA record book, ranking 1-2 for most holes played in one Championship. Sarazen went 194 holes to Hagen’s 188.
1927 – ‘Pick It Up’
Cedar Crest Country Club — Dallas, Texas
Walter Hagen not only played golf at its highest level, but he also mastered the art of gamesmanship. Perhaps the most vivid example of Hagen’s ability to rattle an opponent was in a semifinal match against Chicagoan Al Espinosa. On the 36th hole, a 313-yard par-4 at Cedar Crest Country Club, Espinosa landed his approach 25 feet from the cup, while Hagen sailed his approach over the green. Hagen then chipped to within a foot of the cup and was conceded the par putt. Throughout the match, Hagen had conceded any putt by his opponent within three feet. Espinosa, who had taken a 1-up lead on the 35th hole, stroked his birdie attempt three feet short of the cup and looked to Hagen, who smiled and then turned his back to chat with the gallery. Espinosa then missed the match-winning putt. The match ended one hole later, when a shaken Espinosa three-putted. Hagen went on to defeat Joe Turnesa of Elmsford, New York, in the finals, 1-up. Again, Hagen followed his strategy of conceding all putts within three feet. He stopped conceding short putts at the 30th hole. Turnesa, who had no practice on the greens throughout the round, missed short putts the final six holes. Turnesa’s short par putt on the 36th hole rolled up and hung on the lip of the cup. It was Hagen’s fourth consecutive and fifth overall PGA Championship.
1928 - The streak comes to an end
Five Farms Country Club — Baltimore, Maryland
Leo Diegel was determined not to go 0-3 against five-time champion Walter Hagen, who had built a 22-match victory streak in the PGA Championship. Diegel started strong against Hagen in the quarterfinals, building a five-hole advantage. Hagen battled back, trimming the deficit to two holes after the morning 18-hole round. In the afternoon, Hagen lost another hole on the outgoing nine and rallied coming home to be one down with two holes remaining. Both players hit the par-3 green, with Diegel putting first and making a 15-foot birdie putt. Hagen missed from 12 feet, thus ending the longest reign of any professional in PGA Championship history. The big victory was all Diegel needed to roll to the Championship. Diegel routed former champion Gene Sarazen, 9 and 8, in the semifinals. He then built a four-hole advantage on Al Espinosa in the finals after 18 holes and cruised to a 6 and 5 decision. Following Diegel’s victory, PGA of America officials asked Hagen to produce the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy to present to the new Champion. Hagen, all smiles, apologized that the Trophy was lost. Hagen said he left it in the care of a taxi driver to return to a hotel following the 1926 Championship. However, in 1930, workmen were poring through old boxes in a Detroit warehouse and found a sealed leather case with the Wanamaker Trophy inside. The warehouse was owned by the Walter Hagen Golf Company.
1930 - A match fit for Hollywood
Fresh Meadows County Club — Flushing, New York
Tommy Armour and Gene Sarazen, two great players battling for the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy, went down to their final putts to determine a Champion. Though Sarazen was playing on his home course, he could not grab a quick advantage. Neither player enjoyed a lead larger than two holes. Sarazen hooked his drive on the 18th hole, while Armour’s drive found the fairway. Both players then dumped their approaches into a greenside bunker. Sarazen blasted his attempt 10 feet past the hole, and Armour exploded 12 feet from the flagstick. As Armour attempted to putt, he backed away after being disturbed by the whir of a photographer’s camera. Armour positioned himself again and made the 12-footer. Sarazen, surprised by Armour’s putt, hurriedly attempted his par attempt and missed. It was the final match between the two great players in Championship history. Armour became the third foreign-born player to win the PGA Championship.
1931 - Praise for an unlikely Champion
Wannamoisett Country Club — Rumford, Rhode Island
The 14th PGA Championship had about everything. It had more than its share of upsets in the opening round, including Peter O’Hara’s 4 and 3 triumph over five-time champion Walter Hagen. The Championship was capped by 20-year-old Tom Creavy’s gutsy victory over Denny Shute in the finals. Creavy, who defeated Gene Sarazen — the youngest PGA Champion of all time — in the semifinals, grabbed a 4-up lead over Shute with just six holes left. But Shute found new life when Creavy bogeyed the 31st hole. Though Shute hit his drive into a water hazard at the 32nd hole, the duo halved the hole. Shute then birdied the 33rd, and Creavy double-bogeyed the 34th. It appeared the resident of Albany, N.Y., was folding. But Shute bogeyed the following hole and Creavy’s par closed the issue, 2 and 1. Creavy, the second youngest PGA Champion, would also be thrilled by some remarks after his round. The great Bobby Jones, a referee in the match, told the second-youngest PGA Champion, “It was one of the finest matches I think that was ever played.”
1936 - Hitting it right down the “Shute”
Pinehurst (North Carolina) Resort - No. 2 Course
The only PGA Championship to be played in Pinehurst, North Carolina, resulted in the unveiling of a steady and soft-spoken champion — Denny Shute. Outdriven by as many as 60 yards on many holes, Shute relied upon his superb iron play and putting to defeat Jimmy Thomson 3 and 2. Both players had survived turnarounds in their semifinal matches to earn a finals berth. Thomson recovered from a poor start to beat Craig Wood 4 and 3. Shute edged Bill Mehlhorn, a member of the first U.S. Ryder Cup Team, 1-up. Mehlhorn birdied three holes in succession in the afternoon round and led 2-up with four holes to play. But the match was square after Mehlhorn missed four-foot par putts on the 33rd and 34th holes. Shute then missed a short par putt on the following hole and took advantage of another Mehlhorn bogey at the final hole to close the match. In the finals, Shute closed out Thomson with a spectacular second shot on the par-5 34th hole. Thomson missed his birdie attempt, and Shute knocked in the winning eagle putt.
1937 – It’s Shute Again
Pittsburgh Field Club — Aspinwall, Pennsylvania
Defending PGA Champion Denny Shute, having outlasted U.S. Open Champion Tony Manero, 1-up, in the semifinals, faced Harold “Jug” McSpaden in the finals. The duo battled 37 holes, the third extra-hole final match in PGA Championship history. Heading into the 36th hole, McSpaden got a break when his tee shot struck a spectator and bounced into the fairway instead of heavy rough. McSpaden took the cue and hit an approach four feet from the flagstick. Shute was 50 feet way with his second shot and putted about three feet short of the hole. As McSpaden took his stance, cameras grinded away. McSpaden stepped back and yelled, “Please give me the chance I’ve been fighting for all week.” Once quiet was restored, McSpaden missed his putt. On the first extra hole, which had been Shute’s nemesis all week, McSpaden missed a 10-footer for par. Shute knocked home his winning four-footer, and became the fifth PGA Champion to win back-to-back Championships. It was a feat that would endure for 63 years before Tiger Woods’ victory in 2000 in Louisville, Kentucky.
1938 - The most decisive victory
Shawnee Country Club — Shawnee-On-Delaware, Pennsylvania
Sam Snead had just come off one of the most impressive matches in PGA history in the semifinals, when he faced Paul Runyan for the Championship. Snead finished with four consecutive 3s on his scorecard in the semifinals to edge Jimmy Hines 1-up. Had the match been decided by stroke play, Hines would have defeated Snead by a stroke. Hines was eight under par. But Runyan was also in a zone of his own, walloping Snead, 8 and 7, to capture his second PGA Championship in five years. The decisive victory was a product of Runyan’s prolific short game that produced a 67 in the morning 18-hole round and a 5-up lead. Runyan continued the momentum in the afternoon, making the turn in 1-under-par 35 and a seven-hole advantage. He won the 28th hole and halved with Snead at the 29th to close the match. Runyan finished 24-under-par for the 196 holes he played. He made only one bogey in his final 70 holes. Snead finished 147 holes of match-play 21-under-par.
1942 - The ‘Recruits’ square off
Seaview Country Club — Atlantic City, New Jersey
Army Corporal Jim Turnesa and U.S. Navy recruit Sam Snead, who was scheduled to report to duty a day later, met in the finals of the 25th PGA Championship. Turnesa, the underdog, had made a valiant march through the first four matches, defeating such impressive players as Harold “Jug” McSpaden 1-up, Ben Hogan 2 and 1, and Byron Nelson 1-up in 37 holes. However, Turnesa went to lunch after the opening 18 holes, 3-up, but Snead fought back to square the match on the 27th hole. Turnesa appeared nervous, and Snead sensed this. “I saw that he took more waggles than usual on his drive, and then he hooked it,” Snead said. “I knew he was getting tight, and then I had more confidence in myself.” Turnesa bogeyed the 28th hole to fall one down, and was two behind with a bogey at the 30th hole. Snead closed the match by holing a 60-foot chip shot for a birdie, a 2 and 1 decision and his first major championship.
1945 - Lord Byron’s Streak Continues
Moraine Country Club –– Dayton, Ohio
The finals of the 1945 PGA Championship matched Byron Nelson against Sam Byrd, a former New York Yankees outfielder (1929-34). It was Nelson’s fifth appearance in the finals, and during his historic 11-event victory streak. The evening before the Championship finals, Nelson confided to his wife, Louise, that the pressure of the entire season was affecting him. He had won seven consecutive tournaments before the Championship at Moraine Country Club. The pressure Nelson feared would set in was evident in the opening 18 holes of the 36-hole match. Byrd wrapped up the round with four straight birdies for a 2-up lead. When Byrd began the afternoon round with par, par, birdie, Nelson’s chances looked dim. But Nelson recovered from the rugged start, winning the 22nd, 25th and 26th holes to square the match. He pulled ahead with a birdie on the 29th hole, and won the next three holes. Nelson sealed a 4 and 3 triumphs on the 33rd hole. Pressure may have been on Nelson’s mind, but he registered impressive numbers, finishing 37-under-par for the 204 holes he played in the Championship. Byrd who had played in the 1931 World Series, finished 14-under-par in 197 holes. Neither player would ever again reach a PGA Championship match-play finals.
1947 - A $100 insurance policy
Plum Hollow Country Club — Detroit, Michigan
For the first time in a decade, the Championship finals didn’t have a Hogan, Nelson or Snead on the roster. The lack of a legend didn’t deter 7,000 spectators from the gate, which presented a problem for Jim Ferrier, a native of Sydney, Australia. He spent the evening planning his strategy in dealing with the crowd that would follow his opponent, Michigan’s favorite son Chick Harbert. During this time, galleries weren’t restrained by ropes, and Ferrier worried that the partisans would aid Harbert. Ferrier put his mind to rest by hiring two policemen for $100, putting one on each side of the fairway to guard against overzealous fans. In spite of his precautions, Ferrier didn’t need the security. He defeated Harbert, 2 and 1. Afterward, Ferrier said, “That was the best $100 that I have ever spent.” The key to Ferrier’s victory was putting not security guards. He needed only 52 strokes on the greens in the 35-hole match, finishing 6-under-par. He was 27-under-par for the 243 holes he played that week. He became the fourth foreign-born PGA Champion.
1948 - Hogan’s Last Stand
Norwood Hills Country Club — St. Louis, Missouri
Mike Turnesa was attempting to become the first from his family of outstanding golfers to win a major championship. In 1927, his brother Joe lost to Walter Hagen in the finals, and brother Jim was defeated by Sam Snead in 1942. The problem Mike had was with Ben Hogan, one of the all-time greatest pressure players. Hogan was attempting a first, too. With a victory, he could become the first player since Gene Sarazen in 1922 to win a PGA Championship and U.S. Open Championship in the same year. Despite being out driven by Turnesa on every hole, Hogan used his irons with deadly accuracy in a 7 and 6 rout. Hogan posted a 66 in the morning round to go 4-up, and won the 28th, 29th and 30th holes to close out Turnesa. Hogan was 35-under-par for the 213 holes he played. After the finale, the weary conqueror said he didn’t think he would ever play in the PGA Championship again. The grind of 10 rounds in five days was too much. But Hogan reconsidered his decision after he won the U.S. Open the following month at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. In 1949, Hogan had little choice in skipping the Championship. A near-fatal automobile accident left his legs battered. He did return to play in the PGA Championship in 1960, the third year after the switch to a 72-hole stroke-play format.
1952 - Settling a Family Score
Big Spring Country Club — Louisville, Kentucky
By winning the 34th PGA Championship, Jim Turnesa settled a 26-year family jinx, defeating Chick Harbert 1-up with a par on the 36th hole. Turnesa, a resident of Blair Cliff, New York, at the time of the Championship, was a member of a family of seven golfing brothers. Turnesa’s younger brother, Willie, the only brother to remain an amateur, won the U.S. Amateur (1938, ‘48) and British Amateur (1947). Four brothers in the talented clan had played bridesmaid in major professional championships. Joe finished runner-up to Bobby Jones in the 1926 U.S. Open and was second behind Walter Hagen in the 1927 PGA Championship. Brother Jim — then an army corporal — was ousted by Sam Snead, 2 and 1, in the 1942 PGA Championship finale. Brother Mike was humbled by Ben Hogan, 7 and 6, in the 1948 PGA Championship. Four years later, Jim bounced back to erase the family ledger of disappointment with a dramatic duel with Harbert. Turnesa trailed by three holes in the morning 18-hole round before squaring the match for the first time with a birdie at the 32nd hole. The match remained deadlocked until Harbert hooked his drive on the 36th hole underneath an evergreen tree. He settled for a bogey, while Turnesa made a routine par. It was the eighth and final contest in PGA match-play history to be decided on the 36th green.
1955 - A Cinderella named Ford
Meadowbrook Country Club — Northville, Michigan
All the stars were in place to make it a memorable week for Doug Ford. He qualified for his first PGA Championship, and won medalist honors. Ford defeated Cary Middlecoff, 4 and 3, in a finale that was tightly contested through the first 27 holes. Even though Ford had a 66 in the morning round, Middlecoff held a one-hole advantage. Ford rallied to square the match for the fourth time, knocking home a birdie putt on the 26th hole. He then added birdies on the 29th, 30th and 32nd holes, and sealed the decision with a par 4 at the 33rd hole. Ford became the fourth player in PGA match-play history to win the Championship after capturing medalist honors (135 for 36 holes). The other players to achieve the feat were Walter Hagen (1926), Olin Dutra (1932), and Byron Nelson (1945). In 1927, Hagen shared medalist honors with Jim Turnesa. Ford’s victory was sweeter for another reason. The PGA of America eliminated the 36-hole qualifier in 1956, doubling the field to 128 players who advanced into match play.
1956 - Burke triumphs in a crowd
Blue Hill Golf & Country Club — Canton, Massachusetts
It was the second-to-last PGA Championship under the match-play format, and the first with a 128-player field. Jack Burke Jr. manufactured a series of outstanding matches to capture the Championship, 3 and 2, over Ted Kroll. In the semifinals, Burke overcame a five-hole deficit and edged Ed Furgol, 1-up in 37 holes. Kroll, meanwhile, walloped Bill Johnston, 10 and 8. Johnston posted an 81 in the morning round. It was a Championship that had a little of everything, including a controversial match involving defending champion Doug Ford. On the second day of play, Ford held a 1-up lead on Mike Dietz at the 15th hole. Ford drove into the woods and pitched out, and got his third shot on the green. Dietz called out to spectators near the putting surface before hitting his second shot, asking, “How far away is he?” Ford then protested, calling on Rule 8-1: “A player shall not give or ask for advice or take any action which may result in his receiving advice except from his caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie.” After the hole, the match referee agreed with Ford and awarded the hole to Ford. The match continued to the fifth extra hole (the 23rd), where Ford sealed things by holing a 40-yard wedge approach for a birdie-3.
1957 - The last match-play Champion
Miami Valley Golf Club — Dayton, Ohio
Lionel Hebert became the last match play PGA Champion — and the 25th different name to be inscribed on the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy, defeating Dow Finsterwald, 3 and 1. To reach the finals, Hebert downed former champion Walter Burkemo, who had defeated Hebert’s brother, Jay, in the fourth round. Burkemo had grabbed a 2-up advantage on Lionel after Hebert called a penalty stroke against himself. He reported the ball moved on the 19th green as he was about to make his address. In the next eight holes, Hebert out-putted Burkemo and took a 2-up lead at the 27th hole. Hebert closed out Burkemo by rifling a 5-iron to within a foot of the flagstick for a birdie at the 35th hole. In the finals, Hebert went up by a hole on Finsterwald with a birdie at the 32nd hole. Finsterwald saw his chances wilt after dumping his approach on the 34th hole into a creek in front of the green. Even though he was allowed a free drop due to a footbridge ruled as an “artificial obstruction,” Finsterwald couldn’t manage a par. Hebert closed the match and the Championship with a routine par at the 35th hole.
Stroke-Play Era (1958-Present)
1961 - Wee Jerry was simply marvelous
Olympia Fields Country Club — Olympia Fields, Illinois
The final three holes diminutive (5-foot-3) Jerry Barber played in the 43rd PGA Championship may go down in history as the greatest exhibition of clutch putting in a major championship. At least, they are the longest known clutch putts in succession — and they earned the 45-year-old from Los Angeles a berth in an 18-hole playoff with Don January. The duo had tied at 3-under-par 277 for 72 holes, and Barber edged January by a stroke a day later, firing a 67. In the press tent following his fourth round, Barber prefaced his description by adding, “Gentlemen, the next three holes you will not believe.” His improbable journey began on the par-4, 458-yard 16th. Barber hit a 4-wood approach 20 feet from the cup and knocked it in for a birdie. He followed that by topping a drive barely 100 yards on the par-4, 428-yard 17th. He hit a 4-wood 90 yards short of the green and his approach was 40 feet from the cup. He sank the putt for a par. Playing the par-4, 436-yard 18th in near darkness, he hit a 3-iron 60 feet to the left of the flagstick, but rapped that putt home for a birdie. Barber, who had nine one-putt greens during the memorable round, said he had learned to putt as a youngster while practicing under a street light. Barber’s victory made him the oldest PGA Champion until Julius Boros won in 1968 at age 48.
1963 - The Golden Bear steps forward
Dallas Athletic Club — Dallas, Texas
Jack Nicklaus said he began charting courses in 1961 at the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, California. Nicklaus’ charting a course, along with his distance off the tee and mental ability under pressure, aided his domination of the field in the 45th PGA Championship. “Using these cards removes all element of doubt for me,” he said. “I know precisely how many steps I can hit every iron in my bag. If I have 181 steps to the green from a certain spot, all I do is pull out the club I can hit 181 steps.” Nicklaus pulled out the right clubs to defeat Dave Ragan by two strokes. Nicklaus arrived at Dallas Athletic Club exhausted from his trip to the British Open, where he finished third and a stroke out of a playoff. But two things got him in the frame of mind to bid for his first PGA Championship — getting 10 hours of sleep each night and winning the long drive contest with a 341-yard, 17-inch effort. During the week, there was only one sign of a Nicklaus power outage. The scorching Texas heat had made the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy too hot even for the Golden Bear to handle. He needed a towel to grasp the top prize.
1964 - From near-tragedy to triumph
Columbus Country Club — Columbus, Ohio
Twelve years before he would make history at Columbus (Ohio) Country Club, Bobby Nichols was a 16-year-old in a car loaded with four other teenagers on a joy ride. Their car went out of control at 100 miles per hour. Nichols was flung through the windshield and lay unconscious for 13 days with a broken pelvis, twisted back, collapsed lung and injured kidney. But he recovered; his spirits boosted by a letter from a player who had suffered a similar accident — Ben Hogan. Nichols watched Hogan during the 46th PGA Championship, and was inspired. Nichols said a bargain-basement $5 putter he picked up a week earlier in a friend’s golf shop was his key to victory. The putter proved warmer than the 93-degree temperatures. Nichols set a blistering pace, opening with a 6-under-par 64 that featured 30- and 40-foot putts over elephant mounds. He never looked back while capturing the Championship with a 9-under-par 271, which was a Championship record until 1994. The first wire-to-wire winner in the Championship’s brief medal-play history, Nichols defeated Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus by three strokes. It was a record-breaking Championship for Palmer, too. He recorded rounds of 68-68-69-69, becoming the first player to have four rounds in the 60s in a major championship. Nichols’ opening round remained a record until Raymond Floyd posted a 63 in 1982. Nichols took only 119 putts in 72 holes (a 29.7 average).
1968 - The oldest Champion
Pecan Valley Country Club — San Antonio, Texas
Julius Boros survived sweltering Texas heat and a last-hole charge by Arnold Palmer to become the oldest PGA Champion and oldest major winner at age 48. Palmer, frustrated in never having won a PGA Championship in a glorious career, was a stroke behind Boros heading into the 18th hole, and hit a poor drive. Despite having 230 yards left through trees and over a creek, Palmer took out his 3-wood and hit a brilliant shot to within 12 feet of the flagstick. However, he failed to make his putt and Boros, who was just off the green in two, pitched to within two feet for the victory. Some golf fans wondered why Boros wasn’t smiling for photographers after the tournament. Boros later revealed he chipped a tooth and didn’t want his picture taken with a gap in his smile.
1969 - Floyd wins, Player wins respect
National Cash Register Country Club (South Course) — Dayton, Ohio
It could easily be discarded as a regrettable weekend in golf, but the 51st PGA Championship will be remembered as a time when a great golfer — South African Gary Player — stood tall in the face of ugly demonstrators in the gallery; and a moment when another great player — 26-year-old Raymond Floyd — played well enough to win while surrounded by a suffocating cordon of security guards. Player was the brunt of demonstrations throughout the week, including spectators rushing him on the 10th green in the third round; a cup of ice in the face, and a golf ball tossed on the green while he was preparing to play. Floyd built a five-stroke lead after three rounds, but Player fought back within a stroke. Floyd opened the door with bogeys on the 13th and 15th holes. Floyd stemmed Player’s rally at the 16th hole, rolling in a 35-foot side hill putt for a birdie, while Player missed his par. “Honest to God,” said Floyd, “I was just trying to two-putt.” Player refused to concede, making a birdie at the 17th. Floyd bunkered his approach on the 18th, but Player missed a 40-foot birdie attempt. Floyd got down in two strokes for the one-stroke victory.
1970 - Playing like Arnie
Southern Hills Country Club — Tulsa, Oklahoma
Dave Stockton’s ability to overcome intense pressure on the final round of a major championship — and fend off playing partner Arnold Palmer — stemmed from reading a book on cybernetics that his father, Gail, a former professional and his son’s only instructor, had given him. Cybernetics is the comparative study of the automatic control system formed by the nervous system and the brain. Simplified by Stockton, cybernetics “means your mind corrects your faults.” Stockton compensated for many miscues during a wild final-round 73 that assured him a two-stroke victory over Palmer, who finished runner-up in the only major championship he’s never won, and Bob Murphy. Stockton played like the Palmer of old, making an eagle on the seventh hole for a seven-stroke lead; double bogey on the next hole; and recording a miraculous bogey at the 13th after dumping a shot into a pond on the 13th hole and lofting a wedge approach within inches of the cup. Stockton canned a 10-foot par at the 17th after fighting sand and fringe rough, and played the 18th conservatively. “I know Arnie’s Army expected him to make a hole-in-one there,” said Stockton. “But I just played it for a five. I felt sorry for Arnold about one-millionth of a second (big grin); because this is the only one he hasn’t won.” It was Palmer’s third runner-up finish in the PGA Championship.
1971 - A game of bridge lifts the Golden Bear
PGA National Golf Club —Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Playing a game of bridge the Monday before the PGA Championship, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus invited Mr. and Mrs. Deane Beman to their new home in North Palm Beach, Florida. Beman mentioned during the game that Jack “never completed a backstroke” while putting in a practice round they had played. After the Bemans had beaten the Nicklauses in bridge, Jack retired to the family pool deck where he putted on Astroturf. The new putting stroke, Nicklaus said, put him in a “good frame of mind” to march to a 7-under-par 281 total for 72 holes, a wire-to-wire triumph and a two-stroke victory over fast-finishing Billy Casper. It was the only PGA Championship conducted in February, which was part of an agreement to boost winter tourism with Palm Beach Gardens developer John D. MacArthur, who had leased the PGA Headquarters site.
The victory was Nicklaus’s second PGA Championship, making him the first professional to twice conquer the modern Grand Slam of winning the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship.
1972 - The ‘Miracle’ at Oakland Hills
Oakland Hills Country Club — Bloomfield Township, Michigan
Gary Player appeared to be in deep slide in the final round of the 54th PGA Championship, making bogies on the 14th and 15th holes to slip into a tie with Jim Jamieson. When Player sliced his tee shot on the par-4 16th hole behind a weeping willow, he thought his Championship chances were gone. But Player had driven far enough to the right that the rough was beaten down by spectators. Despite his lie, Player still had trees in front and a lake guarding the front and right side of the green. Player couldn’t see the flagstick, but found a chair from a member of the gallery and stood on it to line up his shot. Pulling out a nine-iron from his bag, Player then hit one of the most spectacular recovery shots in championship golf. The ball barely cleared the trees and the lake, caught the front portion of the green and rolled within four feet of the cup. Player sank the birdie putt, while Jamieson was missing a two-foot par putt on the 18th green. Player pocketed his second PGA Championship with pars on the final two holes. Jamieson and Tommy Aaron finished two strokes behind. Player joined Jim Barnes as the only foreign-born players to win two PGA Championships.
1978 – Mahaffey doesn’t Wither this Time
Oakmont Country Club — Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Oakmont Country Club, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pa., is one of only three courses to host the PGA Championship three times (1922, ‘51, and ‘78). The course also is the site where John Mahaffey set what was then the best comeback in PGA Championship history. Trailing Tom Watson seven strokes with 14 holes to play, Mahaffey knocked home birdie putts of 35 feet at the sixth and 12 feet at the eighth hole. Watson, meanwhile, bogeyed the sixth and seventh. Watson came back in a flourish by sinking a three-foot eagle putt on the ninth green to give himself a five-stroke edge over Mahaffey and four ahead of Jerry Pate. Watson’s roller coaster round continued with a double bogey at the 10th hole. The trio was tied after a combination of Mahaffey birdies on the 10th and 11th holes, a Pate birdie and Watson bogey on the 13th hole. Mahaffey took the lead temporarily with a birdie on the 14th, lost it on the 16th, and Pate took turns at the top with a birdie at the 17th. Pate missed a four-foot winning par putt on the 18th green forcing the first three-player playoff in the Championship’s history. All three players parred the first extra hole. Pate missed his birdie putt by inches. The drama finally ended on the second hole when Pate missed the green, Watson missed a 30-foot birdie attempt and Mahaffey made his 12-foot birdie putt for the Championship. Mahaffey’s clutch play spoiled Watson’s hopes of completing a modern Grand Slam of the four major championships. For Mahaffey, victory meant a comeback of his career and life. He bounced back from blowing the lead in two U.S. Open Championships and from injuries to his hands in the 1976 PGA Championship. He had won only $9,847 in 1978 prior to the PGA Championship before a plucky overtime performance erased some bad memories.
1980 – Awakening of a Slumbering Bear
Oak Hill Country Club — Rochester, N.Y.
As Jack Nicklaus approached his third decade of professional golf, many believed the “Golden Bear” had long past his prime. Nicklaus struggled through the 1979 season, the least productive his worst year since turning professional in 1961. But Nicklaus answered the same critics with a victory in the U.S. Open in June of 1980, and capped his remarkable summer by winning the 62nd PGA Championship two months later. Nicklaus was the only player under par, and a third-round 66 vaulted him into command. His seven-stroke winning margin over Andy Bean was the widest victory margin since the PGA switched from match to stroke play in 1958. Nicklaus’s fifth Championship victory (1963, ‘71, ‘73, ‘75, and ‘80) tied Walter Hagen’s record. Nicklaus’s double-major victory performance in 1980 wouldn’t be duplicated again until Nick Faldo claimed the Masters and British Open in 1990.
1983 - A sophomore steps to the head of the class
Riviera Country Club — Pacific Palisades, California
In just his second year on the PGA Tour, Hal Sutton was trying to bounce back from a final-round collapse two weeks earlier in the Anheuser-Busch Classic, where he wasted a six-stroke lead with a 77. In an all-out effort to regroup, Sutton called his instructor, Jimmy Ballard of Birmingham, Ala., and had him flown to Sutton’s home in Shreveport, La. for three days of assistance. Ballard gave Sutton the advice he needed to release his body on the forward part of the swing. Sutton took the advice to Riviera Country Club, and stood on the 12th tee five strokes ahead of Jack Nicklaus. Sutton said he let up at that point, and bogeyed three consecutive holes. When he reached the 15th tee, he said, “I’m not going to let this happen to me again.” He sealed his first major championship by hitting a superb 5-iron to within 14 feet of the pin on the uphill, side hill 18th green to close with an even-par 71. Sutton was able to hold off Nicklaus, whose final-round 66 left him with his fourth runner-up finish in the PGA Championship. Sutton closed out the year as the tour’s leading money-winner and the PGA Player of the Year.
1984 - Trevino’s last regular Tour Surge
Shoal Creek Country Club — Birmingham, Alabama
Three “rejuvenated” warriors — Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Lanny Wadkins — waged one of the most exciting Championships in PGA history. Trevino emerged from the fray thanks to some advice from his wife, who told him, “Even though you are 44, your clubs don’t know your age.” That, along with a new putter he purchased on a trip to Holland, carried Trevino to his second PGA Championship. His 15-under-par performance earned him a four-stroke victory over Player and Wadkins. Trevino capped his big week by making an 18-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, becoming the first PGA Champion to win with four rounds in the 60s (69-68-67-69). Trevino accomplished the same feat in the 1968 U.S. Open. “To me, the 1984 PGA Championship was probably my favorite championship,” Trevino said. For the 48-year-old Player, one year and nine weeks shy of qualifying for the Senior PGA Tour, it was the last regular tour event he was in contention to win. Though Trevino would be in contention again, the PGA Championship was his 27th and last victory before joining the Senior PGA Tour.
1986 - Out of a bunker and into history
Inverness Club — Toledo, Ohio
A one-day rain delay made this a Monday to remember for all time at a major championship. Bob Tway of Edmond, Okla., will forever be known for how tall he stood in a greenside bunker in the 68th PGA Championship. He stripped playing partner Greg Norman’s four-stroke lead on the previous eight holes before driving into heavy rough on the par-4, 354-yard 18th hole. Tway’s 9-iron approach from a downhill lie caught the right-front greenside bunker. Norman, meanwhile, lofted a 123-yard wedge approach to the fringe of the green, 25 feet from the cup. The green sloped away from Tway, who stepped into the bunker, swung and floated the ball about a foot on to the putting surface. The ball didn’t stop rolling until it fell into the cup. Tway leaped up and down in the sand like a schoolboy, pumping his fists. Norman, trying to regain his composure, chipped 10 feet past the hole in his attempt at birdie and a tie. He finished two strokes behind after a round of 76. Tway became the first player in modern history to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the 72nd hole. His 8-under-par 276 also made him the first to post a sub-par 72-hole total in a major championship at Inverness Club. Tway went on to be named the PGA Player of the Year, finishing the season with four victories. For Norman, the British Open Champion that year, it was a script too much for words. He was the only golfer in history to lead four modern Grand Slam events after three rounds in the same year.
1991 – The Tale of Long John Daly
Crooked Stick Golf Club — Carmel, Indiana
John Daly’s prodigious driving ability resulted in a larger-than-life birth of a legend in the 73rd PGA Championship. The ninth alternate in the field, Daly got a telephone call in Memphis, Tennessee, at 5 p.m. Wednesday from PGA Tournament Administrator Ken Anderson. Daly was informed he had moved up to first alternate. Daly packed his bags, drove 7 ½ hours to Indianapolis, and got the good news on a message light at his hotel: Nick Price, whose wife was expecting, had withdrawn. From there, Daly put on golf’s most memorable exhibition by any rookie player in a major championship. He averaged 303 yards per drive on the 7,295-yard Crooked Stick layout, but proved his length wasn’t the only weapon in his arsenal. He also played solidly on the speedy greens and, without the benefit of a practice round, posted an opening-round 69 to tie for eighth place. Daly seized the lead for good by stringing together rounds of 67 and 69 on the second and third day, attracting mammoth galleries to his side. His final-round 71 was almost like his late-night trip from Memphis — he was on cruise control. “I can’t remember when I’ve hit my driver this straight,” Daly said. “All four days, I didn’t think. I just hit it. Squeaky (Medlen, his caddie) just said, `Kill,’ and I killed it. I just hit it so good this week; I had no fear out there.”
1993 - A-Zinger of a finish
Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
Historic Inverness Club housed a leader board that became a “who’s who?” of golf in the final two rounds of the 75th PGA Championship. While some players, particularly long-driving 1991 PGA Champion John Daly complained of tight fairways and tiny greens, Paul Azinger paid attention to former PGA Champion Byron Nelson’s advice earlier in the week — play for the middle of the greens. Azinger strung together four birdies in a row in the final round and landed in a tie with Australian Greg Norman, a hard-luck runner-up at Inverness in 1986. Norman had a chance to break the 12-under-par 272 tie in the regulation 72 holes, but his 20-foot birdie attempt grazed the hole. The 12th playoff in Championship history began on Inverness’s signature 357-yard par-4 18th hole, and again Norman missed a birdie attempt. This time, the ball spun around and off the cup. The players moved to the par-4 10th hole, with Norman firing a wedge 20 feet above the cup and Azinger pitching to within eight feet. Norman left his birdie attempt four feet above the cup and Azinger missed his grazed the cup with his putt before tapping in for par. Norman carefully studied his par putt, but again the ball grazed the cup and spun out. The Australian-born Norman became the second player in history to lose playoffs in all four major championships. For Azinger, it was his first major championship.
1995 - Elkington's record run humbles Riviera
Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California
Australian Steve Elkington etched his name in major championship golf history at legendary Riviera Country Club, rallying from a six-stroke deficit with what he called "the round of his life" to win the 77th PGA Championship. Elkington turned in a final-round Championship record 7-under-par 64 before making a 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to win the 77th PGA Championship. Montgomerie's ensuing birdie putt attempt to tie rolled to the right of the cup. Elkington and Montgomerie shared the 72-hole PGA Championship record of 17-under-par 267, which shattered Nick Price's year-old mark by three strokes and were the lowest scores ever posted in a U.S. major championship. Elkington dominated a field, which featured a record 79 of the top 100 players, according to the World Golf Rankings. The field humbled Riviera Country Club, producing the lowest course average in PGA Championship history (71.09) and the second-most Championship sub-park rounds (194).
1997 - Love finds Major Redemption
Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
Davis Love III looked his caddie, brother Mark, directly in the eye before walking up to the 18th green during the final round of the 79th PGA Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club. “Just get me through about the last five or 10 minutes.” Mark Love, sharing his brother’s emotion but withholding his own feelings of the moment replied, “You hit a great shot. Just go enjoy it.” Love then strode to the green, asking playing partner and reigning British Open champion Justin Leonard to walk beside him. Leonard pushed Love forward to accept the applause. Nobody in a PGA Championship record field of 83 of the world’s top 100 ranked players could match Love’s impressive weeklong performance at difficult Winged Foot. His final-round 66, capped by a 12-foot birdie putt, gave him a 72-hole total of 11-under-par 269. It was the lowest winning score of the five major championships conducted in 74 years on the famed layout. Leonard, the only other player under par all week, had a third-round competitive course-record 65. But Leonard couldn’t keep pace with Love after three front-nine bogeys, and ended with a 71 for runner-up honors at 274. Love, one of the world’s finest players for several years, ended a 38-major winless drought. As his putt rolled into the cup, he pulled off his visor and made a sweeping tip to an appreciative gallery. Only then did Love look up to the sky to see a brilliant rainbow. “I didn’t want to look earlier,” said Love, remembering his late father, Davis Love Jr., a PGA Professional who died in a plane crash in 1988. Love joined the late Dave Marr as the only sons of PGA Professionals to win a PGA Championship.
1999 - A Tiger tale to remember
Medinah (Illinois) Country Club
Just 23, and with the game of a veteran, Tiger Woods captured the 81st PGA Championship at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club, and may have found his biggest rival as golf heads into the next century. Woods nearly squandered a five-stroke lead before salvaging an even-par 72 for a winning total of 11-under-par 277. His two-putt for par on the 72nd hole was one stroke better than 19-year-old Sergio Garcia of Spain. But, the real drama in the woods of Medinah evolved on the back nine of the final round. Garcia, who took the first-round lead, was the youngest player to compete in the PGA Championship since Gene Sarazen in 1921. Woods, who won the 1997 Masters title, was competing in his third PGA Championship. He became the fifth youngest PGA Champion and the youngest since Jack Nicklaus in 1963. Woods triumphed over the strongest field in the history of golf. A record 92 of the world’s top 100 players, featuring 43 international players from 19 countries, competed for the Wanamaker Trophy. Garcia bogeyed the second hole after hitting his ball into the water, but later birdied the 13th hole from 18 feet and then looked back to the tee at Woods. Garcia nearly endangered himself and perhaps those in the gallery before hitting perhaps the greatest recovery shot in major championship golf. On the par-4, 452-yard 16th, Garcia pushed a 3-wood and the ball landed 189 yards from the green in the exposed roots behind a large tree. Garcia elected to hit the ball, not chip safely to the fairway. He opened the face of a 6-iron and as he swung, closed his eyes at impact. The ball rocketed into a high left-to-right trajectory, landing on the green some 60 feet from the hole. Garcia sprinted up the fairway and did a scissors kick leap to see the green. Once he settled down, he went on to two-putt for par. Woods bogeyed the 16th, trimming his lead to a stroke over Garcia. Woods then hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th to the left-hand rough to face his championship moment of truth. Woods chipped from a poor lie to within eight feet of the hole, but rolled in the putt. Garcia missed his birdie putt on the 18th hole and later watched as Woods rolled a downhill 15-footer to within tap-in range to clinch the title. Woods and Garcia met and embraced on the edge of the green.
2000 - A Duel for the Ages
Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky
Though they lived only 20 minutes apart as youths while competing in the California junior ranks, Tiger Woods and Bob May had never faced each other before on a golf course. They saved their first close encounter for a world stage in the 82nd PGA Championship. And, the twosome dueled for 21 pulsating holes in the final round in one of the most dramatic major championships. Woods salvaged his final round 67 by making a key 15-foot par putt on the 15th hole of regulation, before May missed a six-foot birdie attempt. They reached the 18th hole tied, with May sinking an 18-foot birdie putt and Woods rapping home a six-footer. Woods then birdied the first hole of the three-hole playoff, the par-4 16th, and finished by matching May with classic par saves on the final two holes. Woods and May finished with 31s on the back nine and tied for the lowest 72-hole score in relation to par (18-under-par 270) in PGA Championship history. In the process, Woods became the first player since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three major championships in one year. He also erased a PGA “jinx” of capturing back-to-back Championships. Woods is the first to do so since Denny Shute (1936-’37), and is the first to repeat in the stroke (medal) play era of the championship that began in 1958. "The fireworks started on the back nine," Woods said. “I think it’s got to go down as one of the best duels in the game, in major championships. Granted there have been some great ones, but I think this one goes up there. Both of us shoot 31 on the back nine on Sunday afternoon with no bogeys. I played the last 12 holes 7-under. That is not too bad. Hats off to Bob. He played his heart out."
2001 – Major Toms’ Lay-up to Remember
Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Georgia
David Toms pulled a 5-wood from his bag and eyed the par-3 15th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club. In the waning stages of a humid Georgia afternoon and the third round of the83rd PGA Championship, the Shreveport, La., native appeared cooler than most. He struck his tee shot, sent it 243 yards, with the ball coming settling on the green and rolling like a putt into the hole. The roar of the gallery followed Toms all the way to the green; where he plucked the ball out of the hole and went on to hold the lead for his first major championship. Toms’ hole-in-one was believed to be the longest ever recorded by a major champion, and it proved to be the margin needed for victory. A day later, Toms watched as playing partner Phil Mickelson chipped in from 35 feet for a birdie on the 15th hole to forge a tie. Toms collected himself, while Mickelson unraveled with a three-putt bogey on the 16th green, swinging the lead back to Toms. As both players approached the treacherous, par-4, 490-yard 18th tee, Toms used a driver and slightly pushed his drive into the first cut of rough, 209 yards from the green and on a side hill lie. Mickelson was in the fairway with his drive and hit a 6-iron 25 feet above the hole. Toms elected to lay up to within 88 yards and short of the water. From there, he hit a lob wedge to 12 feet. Mickelson’s birdie putt two rolls short of the hole. Toms then lined up his par putt, stroked it home. With a steady, closing 1-under-par 69, Toms shattered the PGA and major championship 72-hole scoring records. His 15-under-par 265 broke the 1993 British Open aggregate total of 267 by Greg Norman and the PGA Championship standards set in 1995 by Steve Elkington and Colin Montgomerie. “I said all week that I wouldn’t be afraid to lay up at 18 if I didn’t have what I thought was a good shot,” said Toms. “A side hill, downhill lie — that translates into a low hook with no spin on it, and that’s not what I needed. There was nothing good that could happen. It was all I had. There was no possible way I could stop that ball on the green.” Toms played the percentages like a veteran gambler and walked off with the top prize.
2002 – Rich was on high Beem at Hazeltine
Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota
Rich Beem, the son of a PGA Professional, answered every challenge on his way to winning the 84th PGA Championship, withstanding a furious charge by Tiger Woods to cart off the Wanamaker Trophy at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Beem accomplished his feat in a Championship that set a record for having the most world-ranked players (98 of top 100) begin play. Beem’s final-round 4-under-par 68 included an eagle on the 11th hole to build a three-stroke lead, and then capped his day with a birdie on the 16th to hold off Woods, who came home in 67, a stroke off the pace. Beem became the 12th champion of the past 15 PGA Championships to claim his first major title. He is the fourth son of a PGA Professional to capture the Season’s Final Major, joining a group that includes Jack Burke Jr. (1956), Dave Marr (1965) and Davis Love III (1997). Beem’s father, Larry, a PGA Life Member and former New Mexico State University golf coach, was a standout player at New Mexico State in the 1960s. Larry was not at Hazeltine National Golf Club to witness his son’s victory, but later said that he “wore out the carpet” in front of his television from his home in Las Cruces, N.M., and “smoked enough cigarettes to last a lifetime.”
2003 – Micheel hits ‘Glory’s Last Shot’
Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, New York
The year’s strongest field, 96 of the top 100 world-ranked players, were befuddled by the hefty rough of the East Course at Oak Hill Country Club. When the dust had settled on Sunday, only two unlikely, but talented warriors – Chad Campbell and Shaun Micheel - were left dueling for the Wanamaker Trophy. On a layout where legends Hagen, Hogan, Nelson, Trevino and Nicklaus have roamed, Campbell and Micheel each had their chance to write history and win their first major championship. It was Micheel’s hour. Leading by a stroke, Micheel hit second off the tee and watched as his drive headed to the left fairway rough, but then bounced right and came to rest into a lie in the first cut 175 yards from the hole. Micheel then reached for a 7-iron and launched his approach. As the ball flew, Micheel’s caddie yelled, “Be right!” The ball hit on the front portion of the green, bounced once and then tracked toward the flagstick. It stopped two inches from rolling in the cup as the gallery roared its approval. Campbell gathered himself and hit his approach some 10 feet beyond the hole. Micheel walked triumphantly to the elevated green, still unsure of how far he had for his birdie putt. When he saw the ball, he let out a smile, doffed his cap and then patted his heart before marking his ball. Micheel’s shot will be remembered as “Glory’s Last Shot at Oak Hill,” and one of the great final-hole performances in major championship history. They don’t plant oak trees at Oak Hill Country Club unless a player does something exceptional. Perhaps Micheel’s shot will earn an oak, if not a plaque somewhere near the rough on the 18th hole. “I would like to thank the Oak Hill members for being so hospitable to me and my wife this week,” said Micheel with a big grin. “I would like to take you up on the invitation to return. But, I’ll come back only if you promise to cut the rough.”
On Championship Sunday, with the golf world tuned in and some 44,000 fans charged to a new level, hard-working Vijay Singh earned a PGA Championship on a course that was then the longest (7,514 yards) in major championship history. Singh won his third major championship and first PGA Championship since 1998, the hard way. His closing 4-over-par 76 was the third highest final round by a major championship winner, and good for a 72-hole total of 8-under-par 280. He made his lone birdie of the final round, but a timely one, sinking a five-foot putt on the first hole of a three-hole cumulative score playoff. He added two additional pars to defeat Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard. “It was sad to see someone win it the way I did,” said Singh. “The putter kind of fell asleep. I got new life when (Leonard) missed the putt on the last hole. I knew the line I had on 10, and I was happy to see I had the same line in the playoff. The wind came from a different direction and the holes played longer today.” Singh became the fourth oldest to win a PGA Championship at 41 years, five months and 23 days. His closing 76 was the highest score by a major championship winner since Reg Whitcombe’s 78 at Royal St. George’s in the 1938 British Open.
2005 – Phil taps on Jack for luck, Delivers a Winning ‘flop’
Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey
Phil Mickelson made superlative use of two weeks of preparations for the 87th PGA Championship, making a pilgrimage to Baltusrol Golf Club and later executing his game plan to perfection. Forced to return for a fifth day of competition due to a late Sunday thunderstorm, Mickelson was one of 12 players who provided 56 minutes of excitement to close out the round. Tied for the lead stepping to the tee on the par-5 18th hole, Mickelson hit a drive into the fairway, and then tapped a stone plaque dedicated to Jack Nicklaus’s 1967 closing 1-iron approach in the U.S. Open. Mickelson, using a 3-wood, hit his approach just right of the hole into rough ringing the green. From there, he hit a shop that he had practiced in his backyard as a youngster – a flop wedge from some 50 feet from the hole for a two-foot tap-in birdie. He finished with a 2-over-par-72, a 4-under-par 276 total and a one-stroke victory over 1995 PGA Champion Steve Elkington and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn. “I tried to remember some of the shots I hit as a kid in my backyard,” said Mickelson. “I hit it aggressively, and the ball popped up nicely, and it rolled smoothly.” Mickelson’s second major championship came on a Monday after 12 players were unable to finish a day earlier due to a passing thunderstorm.
2006 – Tiger cruises, with ‘Pops’ in his ear
Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois
Tiger Woods has learned much about what it takes to close a major championship. He credited his late father, who died in May due to cancer, with much of his fundamental preparation. Woods recalled Pops’ first putting lesson. "I kept saying all day, 'Just putt to the picture.' That's how I first learned how to putt," Woods said. "He actually knew what he was talking about.” During his first visit to Medinah Country Club in 1999, Woods needed a par save on the 71st hole to hold off Sergio Garcia for his first PGA Championship. Returning to Medinah and now seeking a 12th career major, Woods shared the 54-hole lead with England’s Luke Donald. This time, Woods didn’t wait to strike. He birdied the first hole from 10 feet, on his way to a 4-under-par 68, and never looked back while cruising on the longest course in major championship history (7,561 yards). Woods’ five-stroke triumph made him the first player in history to go consecutive years winning at least two majors. He added 40-foot “bombs” for birdies on the sixth and eighth holes punctuate his round. Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA Champion, finished runner-up after a 69. Donald, bidding to become the first European-born PGA Champion since Tommy Armour in 1930, slumped to a 74 and tied for third with Australian Adam Scott and Garcia. “I wish my Dad was here, to be honest with you,” said Woods. “It’s another chapter in my life but I think about Pops all the time. Today, I definitely think Pops was in my ear.”
2007 – King of the Hills
Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Faced with the fact that he had let two other major championships slip his grasp on the final round earlier in the year and playing under the most brutal heat in major championship history, Tiger Woods did the next best thing. He put his game into high-octane gear, nearly carded a 62 in the second round and punched a steady, no slip 1-under-par 69 in the final round to earn his 13th major title and fourth PGA Championship. It was the fourth PGA Championship to be contested at Southern Hills, with temperatures averaging above 100 degrees throughout the week. Woods’ fitness regimen paid dividends as he withstood back-nine charges by unheralded Woody Austin and three-time major champion Ernie Els to win by two strokes. After a three-putt bogey at the 14th holes, Woods bounced back with a birdie at the 15th and closed with three pars for the victory. The Champion continued his remarkable streak of never losing a major after either sharing or holding the 54-hole lead alone.
2008 – It was Paddy’s Day at Oakland Hills
Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Township, Michigan
On a “monster” of a golf course that bared a new set of teeth, Padraig Harrington flashed his own pearly whites while carving his way into history at the 90th PGA Championship. Ireland’s favorite son rallied at Oakland Hills Country Club on a Sunday where few have been able to rally before, capturing his third major championship and second in a span of three weeks. In the process, he snatched the Championship from Sergio Garcia’s grasp in the final few holes. Harrington, 36, also wrote a unique chapter in major championship golf. He became the first European in the modern era to win the British Open and PGA Championship in succession, and the first to win the PGA Championship since Scotland’s Tommy Armour in 1930. Harrington, the winner of three of the past six majors, prevailed by back-to-back rounds of 4-under-par 66, and completing 27 holes on the final day after a third round was suspended by rain in mid-afternoon. Harrington’s winning 72-hole total of 3-under-par 277 was good for a two-stroke margin over Spain’s Garcia and America’s Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion whose chances faded with bogeys on two of his final four holes.
2009 – Yes, it’s Yang!
Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota
Hazeltine National Golf Club’s tradition for producing some of the most unexpected champions in major championship history held in the 91st PGA Championship, and also became the scene for a landmark moment in global golf. South Korea’s 37-year-old Yong-Eun (Y.E.) Yang became the first male Asian player to win one of golf’s four major championships and the first to defeat Tiger Woods when he had shared or owned a lead in the final round. Trailing Woods by nine strokes after the fifth hole of his second round, Yang’s record PGA comeback wasn’t complete until he drilled a 210-yard 3-hybrid approach at 18 that soared up and over a tree, cleared a greenside bunker and came to rest 10 feet from the flagstick. Yang made that birdie putt for a 2-under-par 70, added a fist pump amidst the roar of a massive gallery, and posted an 8-under-par 280 total. That was good for a three-stroke triumph over Woods, whose closing 75 bore no resemblance to the same player who had taken a perfect 14-for-14 slate after sharing or holding alone the lead into the final round of a major. Hazeltine National hosted its fourth major and second PGA Championship, serving up the longest course in major championship history at 7,674 yards. The field featured a PGA Championship-record 69 internationals representing 21 countries, and 97 of the top 100 world-ranked players – just one ranked player shy of the mark set in the 2002 Championship at Hazeltine. "This may be my last win,” said Yang before a packed clubhouse of well-wishers poised for a champagne toast, “but this is by far the best day of my life.”
Straits, so many that not even the maintenance staff has officially counted them all. Perhaps it was fitting that only one – a wispy patch of sand trampled by spectators through a tumultuous Sunday – played a pivotal role in determining a bittersweet and historic chapter in the 92nd PGA Championship. Germany’s Martin Kaymer (pronounced “KY-mer”) emerged victorious from a three-hole playoff with Bubba Watson, posting a winning even-par total in the overtime drama to become his country’s first PGA Champion and second ever to win one of golf’s four majors. The drama, however, was more compelling prior to the playoff when Dustin Johnson – clinging to a one-stroke on the 18th tee – saw his chances for glory erased due to a penalty. Johnson had placed his 4-iron behind the ball, unaware that it was part of a bunker. He went on to make a brilliant pitch shot to seven feet of the hole, just missing a par putt that was to have been a Championship-winning stroke. Kaymer, 25, won the ensuring three-hole playoff over Watson with a par-birdie-bogey finish. They each finished regulation play at 11-under-par 277. Watson birdied the first playoff hole and Kaymer the second. The moment of truth came when Watson went for the green out of thick rough from 206 yards at the 18th, the third playoff hole, and put his ball into Seven Mile Creek, 40 yards short of the green. Kaymer chipped back to the fairway before hitting a 7-iron third shot 15 feet from the hole and two-putting for victory. He earned his first major triumph came amidst a field featuring 97 of the top 100 world-ranked player and a PGA Championship-record 73 players representing 22 countries.
2011 – Keegan Bradley completes “Glory’s First Shot”
Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Georgia
Keegan Bradley watched his chip from the rough speed across the 15th green at Atlanta Athletic Club and into the water. Before he left the green and posted a triple bogey-6, Bradley gave himself a mental scolding, “Don’t let that hole define this whole tournament.” It proved to be just the right motivation while trailing Jason Dufner by five strokes with three holes to play. Bradley went on to birdie the 16th and 17th holes, including a 35-footer at 17, to spark his rally and force a three-hole playoff. He finished regulation play with a 68 to Dufner’s 69, forcing a deadlock at 8-under-par 272. Opening the playoff at the 16th hole, Bradley knocked home a five-foot birdie putt and Dufner missed his birdie attempt. Bradley added two closing pars to claim the Wanamaker Trophy, joining Francis Ouimet (1913) and Ben Curtis (2003) as the third player in nearly a century to win a major championship in his first try. Bradley, the nephew of World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, became the sixth son of a PGA Professional to capture the Championship. “It seems like a dream, and I hope it’s real,” said Bradley at the champagne toast in the clubhouse. “This was the best conditioned golf course that I’ve seen in my life. If I could make one suggestion, you might cut the rough down back of the 15th hole!”
2012 – All Glory for Rory
The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Rory McIlroy had all the tools at his command in the 94th PGA Championship, registering a performance that will rank among legends who marched generations ahead. McIlroy validated his record-setting U.S. Open Championship over a year earlier by blowing away the field at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. He closed in the style befitting golf's royalty by sinking a birdie putt from 25 feet on the 18th hole for a 6-under-par 66, a 13-under-par 275 total. His eight-stroke victory broke the PGA Championship record for victory margin that Jack Nicklaus set in 1980. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, who jumped back to No. 1 in the world rankings, is the first from his homeland to win a PGA Championship and a U.S. Open. McIlroy also won the U.S. Open by eight strokes. He said that he had a premonition of positives upon his arrival on Kiawah Island. "I turned up here on Monday afternoon, I went up to my locker," said McIlroy. "My locker was right by the window overlooking the putting green, the beach and the ocean. I was thinking to myself, ‘I just have a good feeling about this week.' And I said it to JP (Fitzgerald, his caddie), and I said it to my Dad and I said it to my whole team; something about this just feels right." McIlroy became the youngest player since Seve Ballesteros to win two majors. Tiger Woods was about four months older than McIlroy when he won his second major. McIlroy became the fourth youngest PGA Champion.
2014 – Rory edges Phil at dusk in a Bluegrass Thriller
Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky
Rory McIlroy emerged from a four-man race to outlast Phil Mickelson and the darkness at Valhalla Golf Club to capture his second straight major. McIlroy closed with a 3-under 68, two-putting from 35 feet, to become only the fifth player to win four majors at 25 or younger. The others were Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, and Tom Morris Jr. One of the greatest shows on soggy turf came with a most peculiar ending. Three shots behind going to the back nine, McIlroy rallied to take the lead and then hit a 9-iron from the fairway bunker to 10 feet for birdie on the 17th hole for a two-shot lead going to the par-5 18th. Because of a two-hour rain delay earlier, darkness was falling quickly and it wasn't certain McIlroy would be able to finish. McIlroy got the invitation from Rickie Fowler at the No. 18 tee to hit his tee shot before Fowler and his playing partner, Mickelson, had reached their drives. Both were only two shots behind, still in the game. McIlroy came within a yard of hitting in a hazard right of the fairway. Then, McIlroy, getting permission from a PGA of America Rules official, hit his second shot. Mickelson and Fowler had to stand to the side of the green. Fowler had a 50-foot eagle attempt to tie for the lead. He was well off the mark, and missed the short birdie putt attempt that cost him his third straight runner-up finish in a major. Mickelson was short of the green, and his chip came within inches of dropping for an eagle that would have tied him for the lead. Mickelson closed with a 66 and was runner-up for the ninth time in a major. Fowler became the first player in history to finish in the top five at all four majors without winning one.
2015 – Whistling Straits becomes Jason’s “Day-break” Major