On this day, In 1969 Raymond Floyd wins his 1st major, the PGA Championship over Gary Player by one shot

Raymond Floyd

Raymond Floyd sank a 35ft putt to put Gary Player away for his 1st major championship

By: Josh Morris – The 1969 PGA championship was the 51st anniversary of the event and it was held at South Course at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.   It was a season of first time major winners in 1969, with George Archer winning the Masters, Orville Moody winning the U.S. Open, Tony Jacklin winning The Open.  The PGA Championship was no different, sure there were the regular favorites of Nicklaus, Player, & Palmer but the tournament looks to be up for grabs.

The weather was a major test for the players

Rain and strong winds prevented the field from most scoring opportunities in the opening round but names like Raymond Floyd,  former champ Al Geiberger, & Larry Mowry opened up the event with two under par–69 to sit atop of the leaderboard.  The floodgates opened after the first 18 as many players had fine rounds to make major moves up the leaderboard. Gary Player had a magnificent round of 65 and 26 year-old Raymond Floyd  was right in front of him with a 66 moving him into the lead with -7.

During the third round some unfortunate events unfolded at the 10th green.  A civil rights group disrupt the play of both Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus by throwing ice & programs on the green as the players attempted to putt out.  Local law enforcement were called in to add extra security to aid the final round to ensure an incident wouldn’t happen again.

Pretty Boy Floyd on the rise

Floyd lost the handle on the last day, after three rounds in the 60’s.  Floyd struggled out the gate and wasn’t the same player we saw the three rounds before.  Floyd’s notable moment came at the 16th hole.  He and Gary Player had both reached the green in regulation.  While Player missed his putt Floyd had a devilish sloping putt from 35 ft. Floyd sank the putt–All the strokes that Player made up on Floyd disappeared within that putt, and he cruised to victory.

“I was fortunate to win after not playing well. I wasn’t pleased with my game. I’m just happy no one had a really hot round. I made two big putts – at 10, and the one at 16 and that was it. The one at 16–well , I couldn’t take my practice bag out there and hole that one with a hundred chances.”

— Raymond Floyd after winning the 51st PGA Championship

Floyd would go one to have a successful and distinguished career, In 1976 he won the Masters wire-to-wire.  After that Floyd had a close call at the 1978 British Open finishing T-2 to Jack Nicklaus.  He would collect another PGA Championship in 1982 as Floyd once again won wire-to-wire.  He capped off his major marathon in 1986 when he won the U.S Open at Shinnecock Hills Country Club extending his mark to four major championships.

A Special Thanks to Larry Mowry for recalling the weather report from 1969…

Josh Morris

Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.

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