As we approach the 2012 PGA Championship, this year held at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, we thought the time was right to look back and reflect on some of the greatest PGA Championship moments ever. So, if you can’t wait a minute longer for the 94th competition, let these golden moments whet your appetite and get you in the mood for one of the greatest golf competitions ever played.
Gene Sarazen’s Wonder Shot (1923)
It was a dual that will live long in the memory for golf fanatics all over the world. This has been dubbed as the greatest battle for the top honours, featuring the stern Walter Hagen and the diminutive Gene Sarazen. Hagen used all sorts of tricks to unsettle Sarazen, but to no avail. Then on the 38th hole (the second extra of the match-play), Sarazen’s tee-shot found heavy rough, with his ball dangerously close to the out-of-bounds. However, what was then witnessed has gone down as one of the greatest shots in history, as Sarazen’s second shot landed just a few yards of the hole, where he putted for victory.
Bobby Cruickshank’s Comeback (1932)
With only 12 holes to play for, Bobby Cruickshank found himself nine down to Al Watrous at the 1932 PGA match-play, held in Minnesota. After a very generous ‘mistake’ from Watrous on the seventh, which many to this day believe to have been a deliberate gimme, as all Watrous had to do was sink a two-foot putt, Cruickshank went on to win the seventh hole. Momentum gathered and Cruickshank found himself catching Watrous as his monstrous lead slowly evaporated. Cruickshank eventually won on the 41st hole (the fifth extra of the match-play).
Jack Nicklaus Wins his First PGA Championship (1963)
At the tender age of 23, Jack Nicklaus won his first-ever PGA Championship at the Dallas Athletic Club, Texas. If the competition of Dave Ragan wasn’t enough, Nicklaus also had to battle the searing heat, which rose to 100-degrees over the course of the weekend. After seeing off Regan by just two-shots, Nicklaus cemented his place in the Golfing Hall of Fame, as one of only few men to have won the three big American honours –the PGA, Masters and the U.S Open.
Jack Nicklaus Wins 5th Championship (1980)
If winning all major American honours wasn’t enough, Nicklaus went on to win another 4 PGA Championships, further solidifying his place in golfing folklore. After his first, back in 1963, Nicklaus suffered many near-misses. He then went on to dominate the 1970’s, picking up three PGA titles. However, after another baron patch, it was unclear whether Nicklaus would ever equal Walter Hagen’s record of 5 PGA titles. Then, in 1980, Nicklaus had something of a renaissance. After winning the US open, he went into the PGA Championship with renewed confidence and won by seven clear shots for that elusive 5th title.
John Daly wins as 9th Reserve (1991)
What has been described as the most unlikely winner in PGA history, the larger than life John Daly took it upon himself to beat the odds and take his moment on the big stage. Originally, he didn’t make the final cut of the 1991 Championship, which was held at Crooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel, Indiana. However, with Nick Price dropping out, to see the birth of his child, Daly was given his chance. Apparently, he drove throughout the night from Memphis to reach Indiana for his chance, and boy did he take it. After completely dominating a course that he had never played on, Daly shook off the best players in the world to take the crown - a true underdog fairytale.
Sergio Garcia Vs Tiger Woods (1999)
The rising stars of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia met at the Medinah Country Club, Illinois in 1999. Woods, aged 23, played against a relatively unknown Spaniard in Garcia, aged 19, who gave Woods a good run for his money. Garcia came so close, within just one shot, but he never did manage to overtake him. Woods went on to win his second major title, and the first of his four PGA Championships.
Tiger Slam (2000)
This was the year that Woods totally dominated the game. After winning his third straight major at Valhalla, Kentucky in 2000, he added the PGA Championship to his US Open and Open titles for the same year. Woods became the first player, since Ben Hogan in 1953, to win three majors during the same year. If that wasn’t enough, Woods went on to win the 2001 Masters, holding all 4 major titles at the same time – truly impressive from the genius golfer.