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The greatest moments in PGA Championship history

Profile Picture: Josh Powell

May 18th, 2021

The PGA Championship has been an annual tradition since 1916, and this week the sport's very best will tee off in Kiawah Island, South Carolina with the hopes of getting hold of the Wanamaker Trophy and the winner’s cheque of $1.98 million.

PGA Championship 2021

Sun, May 23 2021, 10:30 AM

McIlroy, Rory

+1100

Rahm, Jon

+1400

Thomas, Justin

+1400

Spieth, Jordan

+1400

DeChambeau, Bryson

+1600

Schauffele, Xander

+1600

Hovland, Viktor

+1800

Johnson, Dustin

+1800

Berger, Daniel

+2800

Morikawa, Collin

+2800

The stakes are high, and the history books are ready to be written. As the anticipation builds, here are the five greatest moments in PGA Championship history.

5. Woods vs. May (2000)

Tiger Woods was at the peak of his powers in the year 2000, and was on his way to completing the Tiger Slam, by winning all four of golf’s Majors in the same calendar year. Having already won the U.S. Open and British Open in 2000, Woods turned up at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky as the favourite as well as the reigning champ. But he was in for an unbelievable battle.

Woods shot a 66 on the opening day to top the leaderboard on 6-under-par, and followed up to lead the field by a stroke after round two. Bob May sat five shots off the pace on Friday after an opening 72-66, but closed the gap to just one stroke on Saturday.

The pair teed off together on Sunday, and turning into the back nine were tied at the top on 13-under-par. On the final hole, May sank a double-breaking 15-foot putt for birdie, before Woods sank a clutch five-foot putt to force a play-off. The two men were tied on 18-under-par, a PGA Championship record.

The play-off was a three-hole contest and Woods made birdie on the first, famously running after the ball he putted and pointing it into the hole. Tiger was champ, but only after one hell of a duel.

4. The Norman Slam (1986)

While Tiger was dominating golf in 2000, Greg Norman had a slam of his own going – although it wasn’t as rewarding. In 1986 he led every Major after the third round, but only won once. Jack Nicklaus defeated him at Augusta in the Masters, Raymond Floyd came from behind to beat him at the U.S. Open, and here in the PGA Championship it was Bob Tway.

After two rounds, Norman sat on 9-under-par, four shots clear of the field and nine shots clear of Tway. Tway hit an incredible round of 64 on Saturday to move to 7-under-par, but Norman was solid and still held a four-stroke advantage.

And it was still four as the two men turned for the back nine on Sunday. Then it started to unravel for Norman. A double bogey on 11 was followed up by a bogey on 14 as Tway birdied 13, and the two were level from the 15th to the 18th. On the final hole, Tway ended up in the bunker from his approach shot, with Norman on the fringe. Incredibly, Tway made the chip shot from the sand for birdie. Norman didn’t hole his chip or his par-saving putt, as Tway won by two strokes.

3. Yang beats Tiger (2009)

Unlike Norman, Woods was renowned for getting the lead and not letting it go. Before the 2009 PGA Championship at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, Woods was 14-0 when leading after 54 holes. So, when he was two shots clear after the third round here, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was a done deal.

But Tiger struggled with his flat-stick on Sunday and his playing partner Y.E. Yang was ready to take advantage. The two-shot lead disappeared through the first nine holes and both men were tied on 6-under-par approaching the 14th. Woods carded a birdie, but Yang chipped in from off the green for eagle to take a one-stroke lead. Yang held on and on the final hole added another birdie while Woods hit a bogey to give Yang a three-stroke win.

2. Davis Love III finally gets the win (1997)

Davis Love III was a 12-year PGA Tour veteran in 1997, and despite having 10 wins under his belt he had never won a Major. That all changed at Winged Foot in New York as Love not only won, but produced the second-most dominant win in a Major since 1960.

Three rounds of 66 was enough for Love, who won by five strokes over Justin Leonard, who had been level with him when they teed off on Sunday. Jeff Maggert was the only other man to finish within 10 shots of Love as he dominated the field.

Heavy rain fell on Sunday, but that made for a picture-perfect finish. Love holed his putt on the 18th to win with his brother as his caddy and a rainbow above him – a fitting tribute many believed, to his late father who was a professional golfer himself and had been tragically killed in a plane crash almost a decade earlier.

1. John Daly’s unlikely (1991)

The day before the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana, rookie John Daly wasn’t even meant to be playing. He was the ninth alternative, after all. But several withdrawals from the tournament were followed by Nick Price, whose wife went into labour that evening. Daly hopped in his car and drove the seven hours from Memphis, arriving at the course just before midnight.

He hired Price’s caddy Jeff Medlin and set about playing a course he’d never seen before. Relying on his huge driving power and his "grip it and rip it" style from the tee box.

Incredibly, 25-year-old Daly opened with a 69 and then followed up with a 67 to hold a one-stroke lead after 36 holes. By the end of Saturday that lead had extended to three. The final day was a procession as Daly kept Bruce Lietzke at arm’s length to win his first Major.

But there is more to this story. On the opening day the course was evacuated due to bad weather. Spectator Tom Weaver was walking to his car when he was struck by lightning and died, leaving behind his wife and two young daughters. Quietly after he won, Daly sent $30,000 to Weaver’s widow Dee to set up a college fund for her two daughters. Daly’s gesture ensured both girls went to college in a touching act of generosity.

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