The PGA Championship has sure created some strange winners
We are a week away from the final major of the year and investigate which PGA Championship winner was the most shocking.
|John Daly's win at the 1991 PGA Championship could be the most surprising in major championship history. (Getty Images)|
The PGA Championship is the final major championship of each year, appropriately called "glory's last shot" because if you don't win this major, you have to wait eight dreadful months before you get another shot at one of the big four.
It's also the only one that had to change formats, kicking off in 1916 as a match play event before changing to stroke play in 1958 when Dow Finsterwald shot 4-under to claim his only major championship. But the PGA Championship is known more for the kookiness of the winners than it is the consistency of the champions.
Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer never won a PGA Championship while guys like Dave Stockton and Nick Price won multiple Wanamaker Trophies. It's a major that is full of surprises, but what are the biggest shocks of them all? Here are our eight most shocking champions at the fourth major of the year, and why they made the list.
8.) Mark Brooks, 1996 PGA Championship -- Younger readers might remember this name as the guy that snuck into that 2001 U.S. Open playoff when Retief Goosen three-putted the 72nd hole at Southern Hills from no more than 15 feet, but this guy was a major championship in the mid-90s thanks to some consistent play at Valhalla and a playoff win over Kenny Perry (Perry will most likely end his career 0-2 in playoffs in major championships). Brooks won six other PGA Tour events in his career, but during a time when there were a lot of dominant names in golf, Brooks taking the '96 PGA was a shock to nearly everyone.
7.) Shaun Micheel, 2003 PGA Championship -- It was one of the strangest leaderboards of the last 20 years at a major, with Micheel winning, Chad Campbell coming in second and Tim Clark and Alex Cejka rounding out the top-four. Of the top-13 at this PGA Championship, only two were major winners, and the tournament ended with one of the most clutch, and impressive, shots in PGA Championship history.
6.) John Mahaffey, 1978 PGA Championship -- Mahaffey was far from some no-name guy when he claimed the '78 PGA, but he had only one PGA Tour under his belt before Oakmont that week, and it had been five years before. It seemed all week that this would be the site of Tom Watson's PGA Championship triumph, but when he and Jerry Pate landed in a playoff with Mahaffey, they couldn't birdie the second playoff hole and Mahaffey did, rolling in a 12-footer for his only major win.
5.) Wayne Grady, 1990 PGA Championship -- The Australian professional golfer had just one top-10 in a major heading into Shoal Creek, but rode a second round 67 to victory over a young Fred Couples, his best-ever chance at winning the PGA Championship. Grady would win only one more PGA Tour event in his career.
4.) Rich Beem, 2002 PGA Championship -- Tiger Woods might have 14 major titles, but none have come when trailing heading into the final round. This might have been his best shot of ending that streak, with Tiger five shots back of Justin Leonard, and just two shots back of Rich Beem, heading into the final round. Woods told caddie Steve Williams that if he could birdie the final four holes he'd win, did just that, but Beem wouldn't go away, winning by a shot with a final round 68.
3.) Keegan Bradley, 2011 PGA Championship -- Not only was Keegan a rookie heading into the Atlantic Athletic Club, but he'd never even played a major championship before last year's PGA Championship. No worries, as Bradley found himself in a playoff with Jason Dufner, made birdie on the first playoff hole and a solid par on the second. It was the first time a player had won a major in his first start since Ben Curtis did it at the 2003 British Open.
2.) Y.E. Yang, 2009 PGA Championship -- Few golf fans had heard of Y.E. Yang before the '09 PGA at Hazeltine, and the South Korean didn't seem like a threat at all to Tiger Woods, who was leading by two shots heading into the final round. Yang was steady on Sunday, chipping in for eagle on the short par-4 14th, and hit one of the most memorable golf shots in recent PGA history on the 72nd hole to secure a victory and give Tiger his first ever loss in a major when leading after 54 holes.
1.) John Daly, 1991 PGA Championship -- In easily the most shocking major win in the history of the sport, Daly came in as the ninth alternate, literally being forced to drive overnight to make it to Crooked Stick after Nick Price withdrew because the birth of his first child. Daly, with a long mullet and even lengthier tee shots, opened with 69-67, kept it going through the weekend and finished three shots ahead of Bruce Lietzke for his first of two major wins.
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