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Unforgettable PGA Championships

Every now and then the chase for the Wanamaker Trophy truly delivers. Step back in time and relive these classic PGA Championship weeks

This list of PGA Championships will live long in the tournament’s history – for a variety of reasons…

1916: Jim Barnes wins the first-ever PGA Championship

Jim Barnes

The career of Jim Barnes was born at West Cornwall in southwest England before turning professional and moving to America in 1906.

“Long Jim” competed in the first PGA Championship in 1916 at Siwanoy in New York, seeing off 31 rivals in what was then a match play competition.

After mauling Willie Macfarlane 6&5 in the semi-finals, he beat fellow Briton Jock Hutchinson in the final on the 36th and final hole. Barnes went on to defend his title three years later after the 1917 and ’18 championships were cancelled due to World War I.

1923: The Sarazen vs Hagen match that went 38 holes

Gene Sarazen

After five days of intense match play, Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen met in the final of the 1923 PGA at Pelham Manor in New York.

Sarazen had been 2-up with three holes to play, but consecutive bogeys tied the match and extra holes were needed.

Sarazen finally overcame the 1921 champion with birdie on the 38th hole, but Hagen responded in the best way possible: by winning the next four PGA Championships to take his Wanamaker haul to five.

1958: Dow Finsterwald wins the first stroke-play PGA Championship

Dow Finsterwald

Dow Finsterwald holds a special place in this event’s history as the first winner of the PGA’s stroke play era.

Finsterwald had lost in the final of the 1957 tournament, but he redeemed himself with a final-round 67 to beat Billy Casper by two shots.

The four-time Ryder Cupper banked $5,500 for his sole major win, which was down from the previous year’s $8,000 winner’s prize. Imagine a purse being less in this day and age…

1971: The PGA Championship that was played in February

1971 PGA Championship

A sizzling weather forecast meant the 1971 PGA Championship was rescheduled to February, so 1970 champion Dave Stockton only had six months as champion before defending his crown.

Jack Nicklaus secured a wire-to-wire victory at PGA National and incredibly completed the career Grand Slam for the second time. He would achieve this feat again in 1978.

The Golden Bear took home $40,000 from the $200,000 tournament purse and would go on to win five Wanamaker trophies in his 18-major career.

1991: John Daly winning his first major as the ninth alternate

PGA Championship

John Daly entered the 1991 PGA as the ninth alternate after Nick Price withdrew due the birth of his first child.

He drove across America to Carmel, Indiana, and competed at a course he’d never played before. He didn’t event have a practice round. The signs were all there, really.

The Wild Thing secured an unlikely three-shot win over Bruce Lietzke to write himself into golf history and make himself an instant cult hero.

1995: Monty’s close call at Riviera

Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie once told NCG the best golf he played in a major championship was at the 1995 PGA.

Monty birdied the final three holes at Riviera to force Steve Elkington into a playoff and it seemed his time had come to lift his maiden major trophy.

But his Australian opponent holed a 35-footer to win on the first sudden-death playoff hole to inflict more pain on Monty who also lost in extra holes at the 1994 US Open.

1999: Sergio Garcia chasing down Tiger Woods

Sergio Garcia 1999 PGA Championship

Tiger Woods won the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, but this was the year a teenage Sergio Garcia announced himself to the world.

The 19-year-old Spaniard, playing in just his second major, battled with Woods and created an iconic moment on the 16th hole in the final round.

His ball nestled at the base of a tree, he lashed at it before sprinting up the fairway in a desperate bid to see where it ended – a moment that will be cemented in PGA folklore for generations.

Garcia finished second and we all expected him to win multiple majors. As it turned out, he would wait until 2017 to win the Masters and that would be that.

2000: Tiger Woods vs Bob May at Valhalla

Tiger Woods Valhalla

Tiger Woods became the first player to successfully defend his PGA Championship title since 1937 after beating Bob May in a three-hole playoff.

It was Valhalla’s second PGA host week and the pair finished on 18-under-par through 72 holes.

Woods’ birdie on the first playoff hole proved decisive and it marked the first time a player won three majors in the same calendar year since Ben Hogan in 1953.

2002: Beemer’s victory dance

Rich Beem

Rich Beem put on a career-best display at Hazeltine to hold back Tiger Woods who birdied the final four holes to post 9-under-par in the clubhouse.

Beem, in the group behind, made an eagle on 11 and an incredible 40-footer on the 16th hole for a much-needed cushion.

After sealing the deal, the man from Phoenix performed his iconic jig that has become the crowning moment of his sole major win.

2011: YE Yang shocks Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Woods goes into the final round of the PGA Championship leading a major after 54 holes for the 15th time. He had gone on to win on the previous 14 occasions. This time, though, YE Yang had other plans on the final day at Hazeltine.

YE Yang denied Tiger Woods what could’ve been his 15th major title at the time at Hazeltine in 2009.

It was the first time that Woods failed to win a major tournament having led after 54 holes. Yang trailed by two alongside defending champion Padraig Harrington after day three.

A chip-in eagle for Yang on 14 helped him become Asia’s first male major champion, and the image of the South Korean lifting his golf bag aloft in celebration lives long in the memory.

2012: Rory romps to victory at Kiawah

Rory McIlroy

Having won the US Open by eight in 2011, Rory McIlroy blew away the field by the same margin at the 2012 PGA.

Saturday’s play was delayed by bad weather, and this forced the Northern Irishman to finish his third round on Sunday.

“I’m going to win this one by eight as well,” he told his caddie on the 18th tee box at Kiawah. He did just that to take his second major and fourth PGA Tour title.

Could the golf ball be rolled back for everyone?

Could the golf ball be rolled back for everyone?

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