August 10th, 2018
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
The PGA Championship is underway and the tournament is already making history. Being the 100th time this historic competition has taken place, it is the third oldest major championship. Over the years, there have been outstanding moments of this Championship that golf fans around the world will never forget.
As the tournament begins a new centennial, here are my top five PGA Championship tournaments of all time.
#5. 1991 PGA Championship, John Daly at Crooked Stick
Entering the event, John Daly was the ninth alternate. No one ever knew of Daly and he showed up to the course sporting a mullet and a whole lot of charisma. He didn’t even complete a practice round but that did not matter one bit. After firing a 67 in the second round, Daly took control of the PGA Championship, winning by three strokes. It was the first time the PGA Tour saw Daly’s “grip it and rip it” style of golf. He captivated fans with his long drives and energetic personality, completing arguably the greatest underdog story in professional golf.
#4. 1972 PGA Championship, Gary Player at Oakland Hills
Gary Player is one of the greatest golfers of all time, in large part due to his longevity and unwavering focus on the golf course. His physical conditioning allowed him to have a successful career in his later years, including the 1972 PGA Championship. He was in a battle on Sunday with eventual runners-up Tommy Aaron and Jim Jamieson. The most notable shot of Player’s tournament came on the 16th, where he hit his tee shot in the deep rough. He would hit his second shot over a tall weeping willow tree and a pond to land his ball four feet from the pin. Oh, and did I mention he did this with a 9-iron? Player would end up sinking the birdie putt, eventually winning the tournament by two strokes. Winning this major was significant for the star golfer as it was the first major he had won in four years and he would end up winning four major championships after the age of 37.
#3. 1986 PGA Championship, Bob Tway at Inverness
Poor Greg Norman. The Aussie once again had a chance to win a major and then found a way to blow it, this time to Bob Tway from Oklahoma. Heading into the final round, Norman had the 54-hole lead by four strokes. But he let the four-stroke lead slip away on the 17th hole, causing Norman and Tway to be in a tie. In the Monday playoff, this tournament will forever be remembered by Tway’s miracle bunker shot on the 18th green. Norman could not chip in to tie, giving Bob his first major championship. This would end up being Bob Tway’s only major win, etched into PGA Championship lore by producing one of the greatest bunker shots. But for Norman, this was another championship to add to his list of heartbreaking disappointments in majors.
#2. 1980 PGA Championship, Jack Nicklaus at Oak Hill
No major championship list would be complete without including one of The Bear. Nicklaus had a firm grasp of this tournament after shooting a third round 66. Lon Hinkle and Andy Bean remained close to Jack after 54 holes but fell out of contention in the final round, paving the way for Nicklaus’ fifth PGA Championship. He would end up finishing seven strokes ahead of Andy Bean, which would be the largest margin of victory at the PGA until Rory McIlroy broke it at Kiawah Island in 2012 winning by eight. This significant major championship would demonstrate Jack’s stellar play in the latter part of his career. At the time, he was the second player next to Ben Hogan to win two majors after the age of 40.
#1. 2000 PGA Championship, Tiger Woods at Valhalla
This PGA Championship had everything. A David vs Goliath duel. A plethora of birdies. A playoff with finger pointing. You cannot ask for anything more. Superstar golfer Tiger Woods was having the best year of his career, having already won the US Open and Open Championships in the same year to complete the Career Grand Slam. But in this PGA Championship, he would have to go up against the pesky Bob May, who fought valiantly against the Big Cat. In the final round on Sunday, both May and Woods shot rounds of 66 and 31 (5-under) on the Back 9. The number of clutch putts Tiger had to make in that round was astonishing. On the par-four 15th, Woods made a ten footer to save par, while May missed a short four-footer for birdie. Woods had to birdie 17 and 18 to tie May and force a playoff, which would go down as one of the most dramatic in PGA Championship history. The moment that everyone remembers was the first playoff hole where Woods birdied and pointed the ball as it drained in the cup. With two consecutive pars after that, Woods would go on to defeat the underdog May, being the first to win back to back PGA Championships in the stroke play era. Woods and May finished 18 under par which would be the lowest score in PGA Championship history. But most of all, it demonstrated impeccably a vintage Tiger Woods performance. His charisma was palpable and he wasn’t going to let Bob May take his Wanamaker Trophy. The golf world eagerly wishes a similar performance for Tiger very soon at a major championship.