Top 5 PGA Championships in history

By Doug FergusonAugust 7, 2012, 1:48 pm

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Being the last of the four majors does not mean the PGA Championship lacks excitement.

Think back to a year ago, when Keegan Bradley was five shots behind when he walked off the 15th green at Atlanta Athletic Club and wound up the winner. Tiger Woods went 21 holes with Bob May at Valhalla in what felt like match play for the entire round. And the PGA Championship had its share of match-play moments, considering that was the format until television dictated a change to stroke play in 1959.

In the last 20 years, the PGA Championship has delivered surprises like Bradley, Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel, along with stars like Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh.

With a history that dates to 1916 – the PGA Championship was played one year before World War I intervened – here are the best five:

FOUR IN A ROW FOR THE HAIG: Walter Hagen's 1-up victory over Joe Turnesa in 1927 PGA Championship at Cedar Crest in Dallas made him the only player to win the same major four straight years. Young Tom Morris won the British Open four straight times in five years. There was no championship in 1871.

This was Hagen at the peak of his game, particularly when it came to match play.

He was on the verge of being eliminated in the semifinals when Al Espinosa was 1 up on the 36th hole. Hagen sailed the green and chipped to a foot for a conceded par. Espinosa rolled his 25-foot birdie putt to within 3 feet of the cup. Hagen had conceded every putt from that distance during the match, but as Turnesa looked to him for a concession, Hagen turned to the gallery. Espinosa missed the putt, and three-putted the first extra hole to lose.

In the championship match, Hagen stopped conceding short putts on the back nine, and Turnesa missed short putts on the last six holes. That included the 36th hole when he had a chance to extend the match, only to see his putt hang on the lip of the cup.

Also notable about this PGA – Hagen needed a cap to keep the sun out of his eyes, so he borrowed one from a 15-year-old in the gallery named Byron Nelson.


JACK SETS THE MARK: The 1973 PGA Championship at Canterbury was like so many other majors that Jack Nicklaus won. With a 68 in the third round, Nicklaus took a one-shot lead over Mason Rudolph and Don Iverson, and then wore them down in the final round with a 69 for a four-shot victory.

There was not much drama, only history. This is the major where Nicklaus set the standard in the biggest events.

Bobby Jones held the record of 13 majors – four U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three British Opens and one British Amateur. Nicklaus wasn't even aware of the record until he won the 1970 British Open and a reporter mentioned he was at 10 majors. Two years later, he reached 13 majors with his U.S. Open victory at Pebble Beach.

The record was broken at Canterbury, no matter which way it is counted.

It was the 14th major of his career, including two U.S. Amateur titles. And it was the 12th professional major, one more than Walter Hagen.


VALIDATION FOR THE SQUIRE: Gene Sarazen was the defending champion in the 1923 PGA Championship. A year earlier, he had become the youngest winner of the PGA at age 20, though in today's terminology, that would have carried an asterisk – Walter Hagen didn't play because he had prior engagements.

In 1923 at Pelham Golf Club, Hagen crushed everyone in his path – he won his opening match 10 and 9, and beat George McLean in the semifinals, 12 and 11 – to set up a championship match against Sarazen that lived up to its hype.

The match was all square after the morning session, and Sarazen was 2 up late in the match until Hagen won the 34th and 35th holes to square the match again. On the second extra hole, Sarazen hooked a tee shot that was a few feet from going out-of-bounds. Sarazen – whose birth name was Eugenio Saraceni – later said Hagen complained there was spaghetti sauce on the ball. ''He said the greenskeeper lived there and was eating spaghetti and threw the ball back out,'' Sarazen said with a chuckle in a 1999 interview.

From deep rough, Sarazen slashed it onto the green to 2 feet away. Hagen was in a bunker and nearly holed it. That left Sarazen a short putt, which he made to win in 38 holes for his second straight PGA title. A year later, Hagen began his run of four in a row.


WILD THING: Nick Price had to withdraw from the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick because his wife was expecting their first child. He was replaced in the field by the ninth alternate, a 25-year-old rookie from Arkansas named John Daly.

The next four days became an introduction like no other in the majors.

Daly took the club almost far enough back to touch his toes, and then uncoiled a swing that produced prodigious power. He opened with a 69, and then really caught everyone's attention with a 67 in the second round to take the lead. He never hit more than 7-iron into any of the par 4s. And the magical ride kept right on going. Another 69 in the third round kept him atop the leaderboard, and Daly was never seriously challenged.

He used Price's caddie for the week, Jeff ''Squeaky'' Medlin, whose voice became part of the legend. As Daly stood over tee shots, Medlin could be heard saying, ''Kill it.'' And that's what he did. Daly closed with a 71 for a three-shot win over Bruce Lietzke, the start of an up-and-down career marked by suspensions, divorces, gambling debts, and eventually another major championship at St. Andrews.


TIGER'S BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Tiger Woods was coming off a record 15-shot win at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open, and an eight-shot win at St. Andrews in the British Open to complete the Grand Slam. Next up was the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where Woods had a chance to join Ben Hogan as the only players to win three straight professional majors in one calendar year.

This was tougher than anyone imagined.

Woods played the first two rounds with Jack Nicklaus, who came away saying, ''I think he's a better player than I was.'' Woods had a one-shot lead over Bob May going into the final round, but May had a one-shot lead with four holes to play. On the 15th, May had a 4-foot birdie putt and Woods faced 12 feet for par. Woods made, May missed, and Woods caught him two holes later with a birdie. On the par-5 18th, May holed an 18-foot birdie from the fringe. Woods had to make a 6-foot par to force a playoff.

In the three-hole playoff, Woods birdied the 16th hole and saved par from the front bunker on the 18th for a one-shot playoff win.

Just over seven months later, Woods won the Masters to become the first player to hold the four professional majors at the same time. The PGA Championship was the only one of those that made him sweat to the end.

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

By BRADY COFFIN

My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)

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Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”

Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.

Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.

And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.

“This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”


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But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.

Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.

“It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”

Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.

“When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”

That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.

Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.

“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”

“We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”

The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.

But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.

“I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”

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Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.


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“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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Woods commits to Wells Fargo and The Players

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods will tee it up each of the next two weeks, having officially committed to both the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

Woods' commitment to next week's event in Charlotte was confirmed by multiple Golf Channel sources and first reported during Thursday's "Golf Central."

The 42-year-old later took to Twitter to formally announce that he is ready for another back-to-back stretch:

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish earlier this month at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods' return to The Players will mark his first trip to TPC Sawgrass since 2015. He won on the Stadium Course in both 2001 and 2013. This will be Woods' second back-to-back of the season, having missed the cut at the Genesis Open before finishing 12th the following week at the Honda Classic.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.